Classification of Crimes

The definition of a “crime” has always been a matter of difficulty and no really satisfactory definition of a “crime” has been yet evolved. You may say that “crime” is a violation of the public rights and duties, which is punishable by the State. But a distinction must be drawn between branches of law which are crimes and those which are merely illegal without being criminal.

Besides, there are some acts, which are crimes in our country but not in another. However, there are quite a lot of agreements among states as to which acts are criminal.

Crime has three major parts: crime against person; crime against property; and crime against the public order.

A crime against person always involves force and threat of force against the body of another (murder, battery, rape, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, etc.).

Crimes against property are distinguished by an absence of force against a person and a loss of property is the key (theft, embezzlement, false pretenses, forgery, burglary, arson, etc.).

Crimes against the public order include rioting, treason, and most of the “victimless” crimes (prostitution, sale of pornography, drug deals). Violence to person or loss of property may or may not be presented. What is present, is behavior seen harmful to the integrity of community to such an extent as to call for criminal punishment. Sometimes we see these as “moral crimes”.

Most legal systems find it necessary to divide crimes into categories for various purposes connected with the procedure of the courts – determining, for instance, which kind of court may deal with which kind of offense. The common law originally divide crimes into two categories – felonies (the grave crimes, generally punishable with death, which resulted in forfeiture of the perpetrator’s land and goods) and misdemeanours (for which the common law provided fines and imprisonment). There were many differences in the procedure of the courts according to whether the charge was felony or misdemeanour, and other matters that depend on the distinction included the power of the police to arrest a suspect on suspicion that he had committed an offense, since to arrest a suspect was generally permissible in felony, but not in misdemeanor.

No one knows why crime occurs. Since the 18th century various scientific theories have been advanced to explain crime. But since the mid- 20th century, the notion that crime can be explained by any single theory has fallen into disfavour among investigators. They explain it so-called multiple factor, which includes biological, psychological, cultural, economic and political reasons.


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