An act against the law in which the perpetrator was unaware of its nature and over which he had no control leaves him, in many jurisdictions, immune from requests for court-awarded damages. Plaintiffs have no redress under these conditions and governments do not maintain public funds to compensate victims of such unintentional actions.
In the moral law of major religions, and in primitive or tribal societies, agents of acts against law or custom, even if these were unintentional, were nevertheless punished. Underlying justifications are related to concepts of impurity, moral tainting and violation of taboos, as well as to kismet, karma, and superstitious doctrines that describe persons as evil, cursed or bewitched when they are involved in behaviour threatening to local society. Some prosecutions of persons as accomplices before or after the fact (of criminality) may find fault simply in familial loyalty. Unstable and despotic regimes have practised summary justice under the wildest, guilt-by-association, reasoning.