England in the 18th century had, on paper, essentially the same legal system we do, with its distinction between criminal and civil law—that, after all, is where we got it from. There were, however, some large differences in practice. One of them was that, since there were no police and no public prosecutors for ordinary criminal cases, criminal prosecution was private, in law by any Englishman, in practice usually by the victim or his agent. For details, see my old article Making Sense of English Law Enforcement in the 18th Century
In discussing the reasons for the lack of state prosecution of crimes—which are, in theory, offenses against the state—one explanation I have offered is that state control of prosecution means that the King's friends can get away with murder, a problem that might have appeared particularly serious after the political conflicts of the previous century.
We are now observing a modern example of the problem. James Clapper, the National Director of Intelligence, has conceded that his answer to a question in Senate testimony was "clearly erroneous." The question was one he had been given in advance, and he was subsequently given an opportunity to correct his answer. The usual term for a false statement made by one who knows it is false is a lie. The legal term for such a statement made under oath, as this was, is perjury.
Any guesses how likely it is that Clapper will be indicted?