, a natural person (also physical person in some Commonwealth countries
) is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own legal personality
) that is an individual human being
, as opposed to a legal person
, which may be a private (i.e., business entity
or non-governmental organization
) or public (i.e., 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.
In many cases, fundamental human rights
are implicitly granted only to natural persons. For example, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
, 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
, 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
or own property as a legal person.
Usually a natural person perpetrates a crime
, but legal person
s may also commit crimes. In the U.S., 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."
* Legal person
* Personality rights
* Juridical person
* Person (canon law)
* Great ape personhood
Category:Civil law legal terminology