Political Crime

Political crime refers to crimes committed or acts omitted that injure, or are perceived as injuring, the state, the state's government, or the political system. It is the attempt of the citizen to injure the state, at least in the state's eyes. Political crime is defined in contrast to state crime, which refers to criminal acts or omissions of the state itself, typically those against its own citizens.

Examples of Political Crimes

States will label any behavior a political crime that is perceived as a threat to the state's authority and/or continued survival, regardless of whether the threat is real or imaginary. Some examples of severe political crime are:

  • Treason.
  • Sedition.
  • Terrorism.

In some more repressive regimes around the world, actions such as publicly speaking out against the government or supporting ideas that the government condemns may be seen as political crimes, and punished severely.

Crime does not have to actually and directly threaten the security and integrity of a regime to be labelled "political." For example, the vehement advocation of change in the ruling order may be considered a political crime, or the demand for change in long-established policy, or a simple act that signifies disloyalty (like burning the nation's flag). Violence or prejudiced discrimination against minority groups, trade union strikes, or picketers can also be perceived as political crime when those in power regard it as undermining the political integrity of the country.