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Chapter 2 Crime and Its Consequences


A Legal Definition
A legal definition of crime is used in criminal justice in the United States.


A Legal Definition
Some behaviors prohibited by criminal law should not be. Overcriminalization arises in victimless crimes:
Gambling Prostitution involving consenting adults Homosexual acts between consenting adults Use of some illegal drugs, such as marijuana


the law is not routinely enforced.A Legal Definition For some behaviors prohibited by criminal law. Nonenforcement is common for: White-collar crimes Government crimes Victimless crimes Minor crimes 4 Nonenforcement causes disrespect for the law. .

5 . This is undercriminalization.A Legal Definition Behaviors that some people think should be prohibited by criminal law are not. undercriminalization The failure to prohibit some behaviors that arguably should be prohibited.

Elements of Crime Technically and ideally. a crime has not been committed unless the following elements are present: Harm Legality Actus reus Mens rea Causation Concurrence Punishment 6 .

there must be harm.A Legal Definition For crime to occur. either physical or verbal. Thinking about committing a crime is not a crime. A verbal threat to strike another person is a crime. 7 . harm The external consequence required to make an action a crime.

8 .Legality Legality has two aspects: The harm must be legally forbidden A criminal law must not be ex post facto.

Actus Reus Actus reus requires actual criminal conduct. or criminal negligence: If parents fail to provide food. they are committing a crime. and shelter for their children. clothing. 9 .

10 . Criminal conduct usually refers to intentional action or inaction. negligence or reckless action can be criminal.Mens Rea Mens rea refers to the mental aspect of crime. Sometimes.

negligence The failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm. a guilty state of mind. 11 .mens rea Criminal intent.

an offender is not considered responsible or is considered less resp.Mens Rea – Legal Defenses In the United States. if he or she: • • • • • • 12 Acted under duress Was underage Was insane Acted in self-defense or defense of a third party Was entrapped Acted out of necessity .

Causation In order for a crime to be a legal crime. The criminal act must lead directly to the harm without a long delay. there must be a causal relationship between the legally forbidden harm and the actus reus. 13 .

the criminal conduct and the criminal intent must occur together.Concurrence There must be concurrence between the actus reus and the mens rea. 14 .

Punishment For a behavior to be considered a crime. 15 . there must be a statutory provision for punishment or at least the threat of punishment.

Degrees or Categories of Crime Crimes can be distinguished by degree or severity of the offense by being divided into: Felonies—severe crimes Misdemeanors—less severe crimes 16 .

Degrees or Categories of Crime Another way of distinguishing crime is between: Mala in se • Rape • Murder Mala prohibita • Trespassing • Gambling • Prostitution 17 .

They lack universality and timelessness.” A description applied to crimes that are characterized by universality and timelessness.mala in se “Wrong in themselves. mala prohibita Offenses that are illegal because laws define them as such. 18 .

The Measurement of Crime What Americans know about crime is. 19 . by and large. based on statistics supplied by government agencies.

Crimes may be inaccurately recorded by police. Behavior may be wrongly labeled.Crime Statistics Statistics about crime and delinquency are probably the most unreliable and most difficult of all social statistics. Statistics do not include the dark figure of crime. 20 . Crimes go undetected. Crimes are sometimes not reported to police.

21 .dark figure of crime The number of crimes not officially recorded by the police.

S.Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) • One of the primary sources of crime statistics in the United States is the uniform crime reports. and state law enforcement agencies (representing 95 percent of the U. 22 .000 city. Today more than 17. population) are active in the program. county.

Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) The UCR includes two major indexes: Offenses known to the police Statistics about persons arrested 23 .

Only about 35% of crimes. are reported to the police. 24 . on average.Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Offenses known to the police include eight index crimes.

• • • • • 25 Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter Forcible rape • Larceny-theft Robbery • Motor vehicle theft Aggravated assault • Arson Burglary .eight index crimes The Part I offenses in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

26 . provided for the eight index crimes as well as 21 other crimes and status offenses.Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) The other major crime index in the UCR is based on arrest statistics. status offenses An act that is illegal for a juvenile but would not be a crime if committed by an adult.

which is a rough index of police performance in solving crimes. Murder – 70% Rape – 50% Robbery – 25% Agg.Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) The UCR also includes statistics on crime index offenses cleared by the police. Assault – 60% 27 20% of all Index crimes Burglary – 15% Larceny – 20% MVT – 15% Arson – 15% .

28 . • The NIBRS contains more data on more crimes than the UCR.National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) • The NIBRS is the result of a joint task force of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI aimed at improving the quality of information contained in the UCR.

the NCVS shows more crimes being committed than the UCR. For nearly all offenses. 29 .S.National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS) The other major source of crime statistics in the U. because of victims’ failure to report crimes or failure by police to report crimes to the FBI. is the National Crime Victimization Surveys.

they are asked to provide information about the experience. 30 .national crime victimization surveys A source of crime statistics based on interviews in which respondents are asked whether they have been victims of any of the FBI’s index offenses (except murder and nonnegligent manslaughter and arson) or other crimes during the past six months. If they have.

Self-Report Crimes Self-report crime surveys ask selected subjects (often high school students) whether they have committed crimes. drinking and drug use among high school students 31 . Examples: The National Youth Survey The National Institute on Drug Abuse effort to ascertain levels of smoking.

Who the Victims Are Victimization is not spread evenly through the U. The most likely victims of violent crime are • • • • • • • Younger (age 12-24) Never married.S. or separated Poor Minority Urban residents Men Living in the West or Midwest 32 . divorced. population.

Who the Victims Are The majority of men (55%) were victimized by strangers. 33 . The majority of women (68%) were victimized by someone they knew.