A quasi-criminal (proceeding) refers to treating an act in a civil case as if it were occurring in a criminal proceeding. It is a civil proceeding that may result in a penalty akin to a criminal penalty. For example, a person may be held in contempt of court for a civil matter, such as divorce, but may be given a criminal punishment of imprisonment. Cases such as this one from the U.S. Supreme Court, has described punitive damages as a "quasi-criminal punishment." Therefore, a defendant in a quasi-criminal proceeding is entitled to due process protections.
[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]