A civil penalty or civil fine is a financial penalty imposed by a government agency as restitution for wrongdoing. The wrongdoing is typically defined by a codification of legislation, regulations, and decrees. The civil fine is not considered to be a criminal punishment, because it is primarily sought in order to compensate the state for harm done to it, rather than to punish the wrongful conduct. As such, a civil penalty, in itself, will not carry jail time or other legal penalties. For example, if a person were to dump toxic waste in a state park, the state would have the same right to seek to recover the cost of cleaning up the mess as would a private landowner, and to bring the complaint to a court of law, if necessary.
Civil penalties occupy a strange place in some legal systems - because they are not criminal penalties, the state need not meet a burden of proof that is "beyond a reasonable doubt"; but because the action is brought by the government, and some civil penalties can run into the millions of dollars, it would be uncomfortable to subject citizens to them by a burden of proof that is merely a "preponderance of the evidence." Therefore, the assessment of most civil penalties requires a finding of "clear and convincing evidence" before a civil defendant will be held liable. A defendant may well raise excuses, justifications, affirmative defenses, and procedural defenses. An administrative law judge or hearing officer may oversee the proceedings and render a judgment. Judgment is made on the balance of probabilities. Meaning, if it is more than 50% likely that the accused is responsible then the accused shall be found guilty