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In
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whol ...
, a natural person (also physical person in some
Commonwealth countries The Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorial evolution of the British Empire, territories of ...
, or natural entity) is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own
legal personality In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its b ...
) that is an
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity Entity may refer to: Computing * Character entity reference, replacement text for a character in HTML or XML * Entity class, a thing of interest within an entity–relationship model or d ...
human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...
, as opposed to a
legal person In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so o ...
, which may be a private (i.e.,
business entity In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so on ...
or
non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of ...
) or public (i.e.,
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
) organization. Historically, a human being was not necessarily a natural person in some jurisdictions where slavery existed (subject of a property right) rather than a person. According to Maria Helena Diniz, an individual or natural person "is the human being considered as a subject of rights and obligations". Every human being is endowed with legal personality and, therefore, is a subject of law. According to Sílvio de Salvo Venosa, "legal personality is a projection of the intimate, psychic personality of each person; it is a social projection of the psychic personality, with legal consequences". However, and in addition, the Law also gives personality to other entities, formed by groups of people or assets: these are called
Legal person In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so o ...
. In many cases, fundamental
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
are implicitly granted only to natural persons. For example, the
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally co ...
, which states a person cannot be denied the right to vote based on their sex, or
Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section, Sectioning or Sectioned may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * Section (music), a complete, but not independent, musical idea * Section (typography), a subdivision, especially of a chapter, in books and documents ** Section sign ...
, which guarantees equality rights, apply to natural persons only. Another example of the distinction between natural and legal persons is that a natural person can hold public office, but a corporation cannot. A corporation or non-governmental organization can, however, file a
lawsuit A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil ...
or own property as a legal person.


Crime

Usually a natural person perpetrates a
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, defi ...

crime
, but
legal person In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so o ...
s may also commit crimes. In the U.S.,
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
s that are not persons under U.S. law cannot commit crimes.''People v. Frazier''
173 Cal. App. 4th 613
(2009). In this case, the California Court of Appeal explained: "Despite the physical ability to commit vicious and violent acts, dogs do not possess the legal ability to commit crimes."


See also

*
Legal person In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, lawsuit, sue and be sued, ownership, own property, and so o ...
*
Personality rights The right of publicity, sometimes referred to as personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of one's identity, such as name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal identifiers. It is generally considered a prop ...
*
Juridical personA juridical person is a non-human legal person, legal entity that is not a Natural person, single natural person but an organization recognized by law as a legal person such as a corporation, government agency, or NGO. Also known as artificial person ...
*
Person (canon law) In the canon law of the Catholic Church The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin for "canon law": ''ius canonicum'') is the system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...
*
Great ape personhood Great ape personhood is a movement to extend personhood Personhood is the status of being a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consci ...


References

Civil law legal terminology
Legal entitiesThis category contains articles related to juristic or natural person In jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and ...
Personhood {{law-term-stub