Personal rights are legal rights people have over their own bodies. These rights are protected in both civil and criminal law, and in some cases they are included in documents like constitutions and charters. Infringements upon personal rights can result in penalties like fines, as well as prison time, depending on the type of infringement involved.
Some rights include the right to personal safety; things like assault and battery are considered crimes because they are violations of personal rights. People can extend this to requesting protective orders to keep dangerous people away, legally pursuing people who threaten them without actually causing physical harm, and suing people who endanger their personal safety.
Also included is the idea of reputation and community standing. People rely on their reputations to find housing and work, in addition to participating in community life. If someone's reputation is damaged because someone distributes untruths or make scurrilous accusations, the victim can sue on the grounds that personal rights have been violated. The law provides protection for people who are victims of crimes like slander and defamation.
Some nations also consider the right to privacy to be a personal right. Privacy laws surrounding medical and financial records rely on this principle, on the argument that people have a right to reasonably expect privacy when conducting personal business. Disclosure of personal information, even if it does not harm a person's reputation, is a violation of the right to privacy. Privacy has also been used as the grounds for protecting the right to access controversial medical procedures.
Different countries have varying approaches to these rights. People like children and prisoners may not enjoy the same protections as law abiding adults. For individuals like children, as well as people deemed legally incompetent, abridgments of rights are deemed necessary for safety, so that guardians can make decisions on their behalf secure in the knowledge that they have all the information they need to make those decisions. In the case of prisoners, personal rights like the freedom to travel and the right to free association are suspended in the interests of being able to legally sentence them to time in jail or prison.
Understanding the scope and limitations of all legal rights in an individual nation can be important for people navigating the legal system. It is important to be aware of how and when these rights apply, so people can take steps to protect and enforce their rights when they are being violated.