What is Crime?
Is it possible to define a crime?
Wide range of conduct can be the basis for criminal offences. Can a definition of ‘crime’ be found which includes all of these offences? •
L Farmer “Definitions of Crime”
There is no simple and universally accepted definition of crime in the modern criminal law o
Most actions are only criminal because there is a law that declares them to be so- so this must be the starting point for any definition o
2 main categories; MORAL and PROCEDURAL
MORAL : most definitions of crime are based on the claim that there is or should be some intrinsic quality that is shared by all acts criminalized by the state o
“all crimes are an important sense moral wrongs or mala in se and the law merely recognizes this wrongful quality •
Weakness : could extend to certain actions which seemed morally neutral (mala prohibita). Such as speeding or failing to register the birth of a child (which have been made crimes by statute) •
Argued that crimes are such because criminal law recognized public wrongs as violations of rights/duties owed to the whole community. The wrong is seen as the breach of the duty owed to the community to respect the law. •
Covers a broader range of offences as well as recognizing the sociological fact that many acts are criminal only by virtue of being declared so by the law. o
PROCEDURAL : define crimes as those acts which might be prosecuted or punished under criminal procedure. •
Glanville Williams 1955, a crime is : “an act capable of being followed by criminal proceedings having a criminal outcome, and a proceeding or its outcome is criminal if it has certain characteristics which mark is as criminal”. •
Whether a particular kind of conduct should be regarded as criminal – as a response to political and social factors/depends on where in the world you live. •
Distinguishing crimes from civil wrongs :
Hit someone – may be prosecuted for criminal offence of assault...
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