Difference Between Tort and Crime

It is general human nature to cherish peace and harmony around. However, when ambition and greed overpower this tranquility, the person can go to extremity. This extremity becomes a crime when innocent people are affected. To counter this complex human psychology, to harm others for personal benefit, societies have been making laws and enforcing them.

The law code of Ur Nammu is the oldest knownlaw code in the world. Other remarkable ones are the laws of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) and the laws of the town Eshnumma (1800 BC).

Tort vs Crime

The main difference between tort and crime is that a tort causes damage to an individual, whereas a crime damages the conscience of the society at large.

Tort VS Crime

Tort is a new word in the world of crime. Albeit, considered the same as crime, its use is subtly different. A tort is a wrongful act of a person that causes considerable mental or physical suffering or loss to a person. It may be intentional or unintentional.

A crime is an offensive and illicit act that provokes intense condemnation from the law and the society. It is always intentional and causes great harm, even the loss of life, to the victim.


Comparison Table Between Tort and Crime (in Tabular Form)

Parameter Of ComparisonTortCrime
DefinitionA tort is a wrongdoing that breaches the property or identity of an individual.A crime is a malicious act that causes damage to an individual’s life.
Category of OffenseA tort comes under the category of a civil offense. It includes violation of property, liability, or other rights.A crime comes under the category of a criminal offense. It includes murder, robbery, assault, and other malicious acts.
Linking of IntentionA tort may be intentional or unintentional. It may be an accident or a deliberate act.A crime is always intentional. A criminal has hidden motives that he unleashes when he is not able to hold them inside him for long.
The PlaintiffIn a tort, the person who has born the damage files a lawsuit against the culprit.The federal courts and representatives of the society file a lawsuit against the culprit in the case of a crime.
Restoration of JusticeThe culprit is fined and sometimes sentenced to imprisonment for a short term to compensate for the loss of the plaintiff.The culprit is sentenced to life imprisonment or death, based on the intensity of crime and expectations of the society.


What is Tort?

A tort is a harmful act that causes substantial damage to a person. This damage may be in the form of mental torture, financial default, defamation or infringement of property.

A tort is a civil offense. The convicted person is called a tortfeasor, while the plaintiff is called the injured party. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove the evidence for the conviction of the tortfeasor.

The plaintiff files a lawsuit in a civil court. Based upon the nature of the tort, negligent or deliberate, the court punishes the tortfeasor. The tort law pertains to the provision of compensation to the plaintiff. Generally, a short term imprisonment also accompanies the refurbishment.

However, a tort law is not always rightful in the sense of providing justice.

The USA witnesses 15 million tort cases every year. The promoters of the tort reform label them as frivolous cases because a majority of these are filed only to seek money.


What is Crime?

A crime is a condemnable act that draws the flak of the state and the ire of the society. It deliberately harms an individual to a great extent.

It is always intentional. Psychologically disturbed mentality and fickle mindedness are the driving factors for a crime in most of the cases.

A criminal case is filed in a criminal court. The victims may not be sound enough to present evidences to the court. Therefore, the state takes up the responsibility of the conviction of the accused. The accused, if proven to have committed the crime, is liable for strict punishments such as life imprisonmentor death sentence or compensation with imprisonment.

Crimes include murders, assaults, and others. However, many times the innocent people are convicted or the culprits set free due to lack of evidence. At other times, the investigating officers indulge in malpractices to benefit the accused. There should be strict vigilance over such officials as they defeat the purpose of justice.

Main Differences Between Tort and Crime

Although, crime is the general word used in court hearings and proceedings, it cannot be substituted for tort in a formal environment.

Tort and crime are different in intensity and many other aspects. The main differences between the two are :

  1. A tort harms an individual and his property, whereas a crime devastates not only an individual but the sentiments of the whole society.
  2. A tort is a civil offense, whereas a crime is a criminal offense.
  3. A tort may be intentional or due to negligence. On the other hand, crime is intentional and deliberate.
  4. In a tort, the plaintiff files the lawsuit. On the other hand, the state takes up the responsibility of management in a criminal case.
  5. The sentences in a tort are generally lax, whereas the punishment for a crime is stern and definite.



A safe environment and tranquility is the general need of the society. Crime, on the other hand, is a constant threat to this sense of safety. Although tort and crime are different categories of crime – they are crime indeed! They should be countered with strict measures.

Crime index is a survey-based index that gives a degree of prevalence of crime in the world. Venezuela tops this index with a percentage of 84.49. There also exists the safety index. In this index, a higher percentage depicts the safety of a country from the perspective of the residents.

India, from the past few years, has grown unsafe for the commons. With murders, assaults, and mob lynching incidents, it is receiving flak from international agencies.

Crime depicts the ill-mentality of a person. This mentality perishes when the criminal is at a constant threat of strict action from the state. Countries should strive to bring in more laws so that the citizens feel safe and do not lead to diaspora to the lands where they feel secure.


  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/bulr76&section=22
  2. https://ir.law.fsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1185&context=articles
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