Basic Legal Definition of Crime in Western Society

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What is the legality principle?

An act is only considered a crime if it is prohibited by law beforehand.

What does the substantive definition of crime refer to?

Intentional acts of human conduct causing personal or social injury.

What is the basic legal definition of crime?

A violation of a society's criminal law that results in state punishment.

In Western society, what is typically considered a crime?

Any act or omission that results in state punishment and violates a law.

What is the power of punishment in liberal and democratic societies authorized by according to the text?

Authorized and limited by the legality principle.

What additional elements are sometimes added to the definition of crime according to the text?

'Force' and 'fraud'

What is the main difference between instrumental and expressive crime?

Instrumental crime is committed for material gain, while expressive crime is a reaction to societal norms.

How does Edwin Sutherland define crime?

As behavior learned through interactions and influenced by social norms and values.

How do Julia and Herman Schwendinger define crime?

As any act causing harm or injury, regardless of legal definition.

According to Thorstein Sellin, what constitutes a crime?

Any action against societal norms, whether widely accepted or not.

Which type of crime is characterized by having a significant emotional component?

Expressive crime

Study Notes

Legality Principle

  • The legality principle is a fundamental concept in criminal law, which emphasizes that there can be no crime without a prior law that defines and prohibits the act.

Definition of Crime

  • The substantive definition of crime refers to the nature of the behavior or act that constitutes a crime.
  • The basic legal definition of crime is an act or omission that is punishable by law and is considered harmful or injurious to the public or society.

Crime in Western Society

  • In Western society, a crime is typically considered an act that violates the criminal law and is punishable by the state.

Power of Punishment

  • In liberal and democratic societies, the power of punishment is authorized by the principle of sovereignty, which grants the state the right to define and punish crimes.

Additional Elements of Crime

  • Sometimes, additional elements such as mens rea (guilty mind) and actus reus (guilty act) are added to the definition of crime to establish criminal liability.

Types of Crime

  • Instrumental crime is committed for material gain or to achieve a specific goal, whereas expressive crime is committed for emotional or psychological gratification.
  • The main difference between instrumental and expressive crime is the motivation behind the criminal act.

Theorists' Definitions of Crime

  • Edwin Sutherland defines crime as a behavior that is prohibited by the criminal law and is punishable by the state.
  • Julia and Herman Schwendinger define crime as a behavior that is harmful or injurious to individuals or society.
  • According to Thorstein Sellin, a crime is an act that violates the societal norms and values.

Emotional Crime

  • Expressive crime is characterized by having a significant emotional component, such as revenge, anger, or excitement.

Explore the basic legal definition of crime in Western society, which typically involves any act or omission that violates a law and results in a punishment or sanction by the state. Learn about the legality principle that states an act is not a crime unless it is prohibited by law beforehand.

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