The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice: Contributing Factors Of Crime
Crime is defined as: commission of an act or act of omission that violates the law and is punishable by the state. Crimes are considered injurious to society and the community. As defined by law, a crime includes both the act, or actus rea, and the intent to commit the act, or mens rea. Criminal intent involves an intellectual apprehension of factual elements of the act or acts commanded or enjoined by the law. It is usually inferred from the apparently voluntary commission of an overt act. Criminal liability is relieved in the case of insanity. Legal minors are also relieved of criminal liability, as are persons subjected to coercion or duress to such a degree as to render the commission of criminal acts involuntary. In most countries, crimes are defined and punished pursuant to statutes. Punishments may include death, imprisonment, exile, fines, forfeiture of property, removal from public office, and disqualification from holding such office.
Unless the act of which a defendant is accused is expressly defined by statute as a crime, no indictment or conviction for the commission of such an act can be legally sustained. This provision is important in establishing the difference between government by law and arbitrary or dictatorial government.
Under common law, a crime was generally classified as treason, felony, or misdemeanor, but many offenses could not be defined exactly, and the rule was adopted that any immoral act tending to the prejudice of the community was, per se, a crime, and punishable by the courts. Crimes are now usually classified as mala in se, which includes acts, such as murder, so offensive to morals as to be obviously criminal; and mala prohibita, which are violations of specific regulatory statutes, such as traffic violations, that ordinarily would not be punishable in the absence of statutory enactments prohibiting the commission of such acts. In...
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