Crime::criminal    Crimes::criminal    Offence::against    Crime::legal    Press::state    Which::chapter

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| image = Part of the common law series
Fingerprints taken c.1859-60 by William James Herschel

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| heading1 = Elements | content1 =

| heading2 = Scope of criminal liability | content2 =

| heading3 = Seriousness of offense | content3 =

| heading4 = Inchoate offenses | content4 =

| heading5 = Offence against the person | content5 =


| heading6 = Crimes against property | content6 =

| heading7 = Crimes against justice | content7 =

| heading8 = Victimless crimes | content8 =

| heading9 = Crimes against animals | content9 =

| heading10 = Defences to liability | content10 =

| heading11 = Other common-law areas | content11=

| heading12 = Portals | content12 =

  • Criminal justice
  • Law


In ordinary language, the term crime denotes an unlawful act punishable by a state.<ref name="oed">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,<ref name="Farmer">Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, definitions of", in Cane and Conoghan (editors), The New Oxford Companion to Law, Oxford University Press, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-19-929054-3), page 263 (Google Books).</ref> though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes.<ref>In the United Kingdom, for instance, the definitions provided by section 243(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and by the Schedule to the Prevention of Crimes Act 1871.</ref> The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law.<ref name="Farmer"/> One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual or individuals but also to a community, society or the state ("a public wrong"). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.<ref name="oed"/><ref name="oxdic">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

The notion that acts such as murder, rape and theft are to be prohibited exists worldwide.<ref name="bbc">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> What precisely is a criminal offence is defined by criminal law of each country. While many have a catalogue of crimes called the criminal code, in some common law countries no such comprehensive statute exists.

The state (government) has the power to severely restrict one's liberty for committing a crime. In modern societies, there are procedures to which investigations and trials must adhere. If found guilty, an offender may be sentenced to a form of reparation such as a community sentence, or, depending on the nature of their offence, to undergo imprisonment, life imprisonment or, in some jurisdictions, execution.

Usually, to be classified as a crime, the "act of doing something criminal" (actus reus) must – with certain exceptions – be accompanied by the "intention to do something criminal" (mens rea).<ref name="oxdic"/>

While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime. Breaches of private law (torts and breaches of contract) are not automatically punished by the state, but can be enforced through civil procedure.

Crime sections
Intro   Overview    Etymology    Definition    Criminalization    Labelling theory    Natural-law theory    History    Classification and categorisation    Offence in common law jurisdictions    Causes and correlates of crime    Crimes in international law    Religion and crime    Military jurisdictions and states of emergency    Employee crime    See also    Notes    References    External links   

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