The first civilizations generally did not distinguish between civil law and criminal law. The first written codes of law were designed by the Sumerians. Around 2100–2050 BC Ur-Nammu, the Neo-Sumerian king of Ur, enacted the oldest written legal code whose text has been discovered: the Code of Ur-Nammu although an earlier code of Urukagina of Lagash ( 2380–2360 BC ) is also known to have existed. Another important early code was the Code of Hammurabi, which formed the core of Babylonian law. Only fragments of the early criminal laws of Ancient Greece have survived, e.g. those of Solon and Draco.
The Old Bailey
(in 1808) was the venue for more than 100,000 criminal trials between 1674 and 1834, including all death penalty cases.
In Roman law, Gaius's Commentaries on the Twelve Tables also conflated the civil and criminal aspects, treating theft (furtum) as a tort. Assault and violent robbery were analogized to trespass as to property. Breach of such laws created an obligation of law or vinculum juris discharged by payment of monetary compensation or damages. The criminal law of imperial Rome is collected in Books 47–48 of the Digest. After the revival of Roman law in the 12th century, sixth-century Roman classifications and jurisprudence provided the foundations of the distinction between criminal and civil law in European law from then until the present time.
The first signs of the modern distinction between crimes and civil matters emerged during the Norman Invasion of England. The special notion of criminal penalty, at least concerning Europe, arose in Spanish Late Scholasticism (see Alfonso de Castro), when the theological notion of God's penalty (poena aeterna) that was inflicted solely for a guilty mind, became transfused into canon law first and, finally, to secular criminal law. The development of the state dispensing justice in a court clearly emerged in the eighteenth century when European countries began maintaining police services. From this point, criminal law formalized the mechanisms for enforcement, which allowed for its development as a discernible entity.