What Is Criminal Law?

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Herring

What is Crime?
Is it possible to define a crime?
oWide 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”
oThere is no simple and universally accepted definition of crime in the modern criminal law oMost 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 o2 main categories; MORAL and PROCEDURAL

oMORAL : 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. oPROCEDURAL : 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 :

oHit someone – may be prosecuted for criminal offence of assault...
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