Penal Action Law and Legal Definition

Penal action refers to a criminal prosecution. Penal action also refers to a civil proceeding in which either the state or a common informer sues to recover a penalty from a defendant who violated the statute. A penal action resembles a criminal proceeding because a successful action results in a monetary penalty which is intended to punish the defendant. A penal action is brought for the recovery of a penalty or a statutory fine; and it might be brought either by the Attorney-General on behalf of the state, or by a common informer on his own account.