Legal Definition of Crime: Everything You Need to Know
A crime is a wrongdoing classified by the state or Congress as a felony or misdemeanor.3 min read
2. Crime and the Law
A crime is a wrongdoing classified by the state or Congress as a felony or misdemeanor.
A crime is an offence against a public law. This word, in its most general sense, includes all offences, but in its more limited sense is confined to felony.
The term offence may be considered as having the same meaning, but is usually understood to be a crime not indictable but punishable, summarily or by the forfeiture of a penalty.
Types of Crime
A felony is a serious crime punishable by at least one year in prison. Some family law felonies include kidnapping and custodial interference (in some states).
People convicted of felonies lose certain rights, such as the right to vote or hold public office. During the term of sentence, the convicted person may also be prohibited from making contracts, marrying, suing or keeping certain professional licenses. Upon release from prison, the convict may also be required to register with the police.
A misdemeanor is a crime for which the punishment is usually a fine and/or up to one year in a county jail. Often a crime which is a misdemeanor for the first offense becomes a felony for repeated offenses. All crimes that are not felonies are misdemeanors.
Crime and the Law
Crimes are defined and punished by statutes and by the common law. Most common law offences are as well known and as precisely ascertained as those which are defined by statutes; yet, from the difficulty of exactly defining and describing every act which ought to be punished, the vital and preserving principle has been adopted; that all immoral acts which tend to the prejudice of the community are punishable by courts of justice.
Crimes are 'mala in se,' or bad in themselves, and these include all offences against the moral law; or they are 'mala prohibita,' bad because prohibited, as being against sound policy which, unless prohibited, would be innocent or indifferent. Crimes may be classed into such as affect:
- 1. Religion And Public Worship: 1. Blasphemy. 2. Disturbing public worship.
- 2. The Sovereign Power: 1. Treason. 2. Misprision of treason.
- 3. The Current Coin: 1. Counterfeiting or impairing it.
- 4. Public justice: 1. Bribery of judges or jurors, or receiving the bribe. 2. Perjury. 3. Prison breaking. 4. Rescue. 5. Barratry. 6. Maintenance. 7. Champerty. 8. Compounding felonies. 9. Misprision of felonies. 10. Oppression. 11. Extortion. 12. Suppressing evidence. 13. Negligence or misconduct in inferior officers. 14. Obstructing legal process. 15. Embracery.
- 5. Public Peace: 1. Challenges to fight a duel. 2. Riots, routs and unlawful assemblies. 3. Affrays. 4. Libels.
- 6. Public Trade: 1. Cheats. 2. Forestalling. S. Regrating. 4. Engrossing. 5. Monopolies.
- 7. Chastity: 1. Sodomy. 2. Adultery. 3. Incest. 4. Bigamy. 5. Fornication.
- 8. Decency And Morality: 1. Public indecency. 2. Drunkenness. 3. Violating the grave.
- 9. Public Police And Economy: 1. Common nuisances. 2. Keeping disorderly houses and bawdy houses. 3. Idleness, vagrancy, and beggary.
- 10. Public Policy: 1. Gambling. 2. Illegal lotteries.
- 11. Individuals: 1. Homicide, which is justifiable, excusable or felonious. 3. Mayhem. 3. Rape. 4. Poisoning, with intent to murder. 5. Administering drugs to a woman quick with child to cause, miscarriage. 6. Concealing death of bastard child. 7. Assault and battery, which is either simple or with intent to commit some other crime. 8. kidnapping. 9. False imprisonment. 10. Abduction.
- 12. Private Property: 1. Burglary. 2. Arson. 3. Robbery. 4., Forgery. Counterfeiting. 6. Larceny. 7. Receiving stolen goods, knowing them to have been stolen, or theft-bote. 8. Malicious mischief.
- 13. The Public, Individuals, Or Their Property, According To The Intent Of The Criminal: 1. Conspiracy.