An Overview of Crime

An Overview of Crime

 “Society invites the crime, and criminals accept the invitation.”

-Vikrant Persai

In today’s world, where we are living in the 21st century. But the crime rate is increasing day by day time irrespectively. The crime rate registered per lakh population went up marginally to 385.5 in 2019 as compared to 383.5 in 2018. A total of 51.56 lakh cognizable crimes comprising 32.25 lakh Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 19.30 lakh Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2019. This marks an increase of 1.6% in registration of cases over 2018, as per the National Crime Records Bureau report on Crime in India – 2019. On the one hand where it is difficult to set a limitation or parameter on the behalf of age group to commit criminal activities whether juvenile, adult, or an old person. But on the other side, we can say that most of the Criminal activities are done by adults.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, it is estimated that Adults are the most likely to experience a serious violent crime. Most of the Violence is directed at victims of the same age, and the age period of (16-24) is a high-risk time for violent victimization. So, we may conclude that the age factor is somewhere responsible for lethal crimes. The surroundings and environment where a child is grown up also play an efficient role. But we are living in a world where there are a lot of hypocrites. They have two faces.

The former instructs others not to indulge in activities that are forbidden by law and the latter, themselves do the same simultaneously. The circumstances, where an elite class release from all allegations through the help of wrongful means and the honest and hardworking middle class or poor does not even get the appreciation which they deserve. Now the question arises, is this type of environment gave more chances to individuals to involve in criminal activities?

Marcus Aurelius in his quote “POVERTY IS THE MOTHER OF CRIME” signifies that somewhere, an individual facing poverty is instigated by all such circumstances to involve in such activities.

Definition: –

According to the Indian Penal Code (1860), Crime is defined as “an act punishable by law as forbidden by statute or injurious to Public Welfare”. It is a very wide definition.

Another definition is given by Blackstone in his “Commentaries on the Laws of England” has defined Crime as “an act committed or omitted in Violation of a Public Law either forbidding or commanding it.”

Elements of Crime: –

The main elements necessary to constitute a crime are: –

1. A human being under a legal obligation to act during a particular way and a fit subject for the infliction of appropriate punishment;

2. An evil intent of such a human being;

3. An act committed or omitted in furtherance of such intent;

4. An injury to other human beings or society at large by such an act.

Mens rea

In simple terms, it refers to the ‘state of the person who is guilty.’ To understand malice aforethought, we can refer to the Latin maxim ‘Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’ which means ‘the act itself doesn’t make a man guilty unless his intentions were so.’ From this maxim follows another proposition: ‘actus me invito factus non-est mens actus’ which suggests ‘ an act done by me against my will isn’t my act within the least. ‘This means an act to be punishable by law must be a willed act or a voluntary act and at the equivalent time must have been done with criminal intent. The intent and therefore the act both must concur to constitute the crime. Within the case, [fowler Vs Padget, (1798)7 T.R. 509.] where Lord Kenyon, CJ said: ‘It could also be a principle of natural justice and our law, that actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea’. The intention and act must both concur to constitute the crime.’

Actus reus

According to Kenny ‘actus Reus’ is such a result of human conduct as the law seeks to prevent. The act done or omitted must be an act forbidden or commanded by some law. Russel called ‘actus Reus’ as the ‘physical result of human conduct.’

The Law’s refusal to punish anything other than actions involve four different things namely (Fitzgerald, P.J., Criminal law and Punishment, p.94): –

(i)law is merely concerned with positive conduct as against mere inactivity

(ii) the law only prohibits acts against thoughts or intentions

(iii)the law only penalizes acts as contrasted with bodily States and forms of involuntary behaviour.

(iv)a man is punished just for his conduct and not for that of others.

Types of crime: –

Many types of crime exist. Criminologists commonly classify crimes into several major categories: (1) violent crime; (2) property crime; (3) white-collar crime; (4) organized crime; and (5) consensual crime.

1.Violent crime

Within the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime consists of 4 offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and assault. Violent crimes are stated within the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force. For example: – homicide, manslaughter, sexual assault, negligence, endangerment, kidnapping (abduction), extortion, and harassment, etc.

2.Property crime

Property crime is any criminality that involves the destruction or transfer of property whether or not an act of violence is used or threatened in doing so. The arson section within the Uniform Crime Reporting program provides more information about thereon offense. For example: – arson (to an extent), vandalism, burglary, theft, shoplifting, embezzlement larceny-theft, automobile theft, carjacking, tax evasion, fraud, etc.

3.White-collar crime

White-collar crime is mainly economic. The ‘white-collar crimes’ are the “crimes committed by persons of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.” Such crimes are extremely widespread. Due to the political and financial importance of prosecution of white-collar, crimes are generally avoided. The white-collar criminals cast a dangerous effect on society and its institutions. White-collar crime is also defined as a crime “committed by a person of high occupation.” White-collar crimes are mostly committed by the individuals belonging to but it does not include most of the cases of murder, adultery, and intoxication, because these aren’t usually a neighbourhood of their occupational activity. Taft says “No collar” crime is the crime of the underprivileged. White-collar crime is middle- or upper-class crime.

For example: –The commonest sorts of white-collar crime are: fraud, bribery, aiding, abetting criminals, burglary, corruption, fraudulent advertisement, unfair Labour practices, false certificate, etc.

4.Organized crime

Organized crime is defined as “those involved, normally working with others, in continuing serious criminal activities for substantial profit, elsewhere.” For example: –Crimes such as drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, firearms trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, counterfeit goods, wildlife, and cultural property smuggling, seeking protection money, contract killing, boot-legging, prostitution, now added is drug trafficking, illicit arms trading, money laundering, transporting illegitimate activities, etc.

5.Consensual crime

A Victimless or Consensual crime is usually an illegal criminal act that doesn’t have an identifiable victim. It may be a public-order crime that involves multiple participants, all of whom give their consent as willing participants in unlawful activity. This commonly includes actions that only involve the perpetrator or something voluntary between consenting adults. This crime has unique characteristics that make them an indirect threat to the privacy of innocent people. For example: -Assisted suicide, Prostitution, Trespassing, Recreational drug use, Drug possession, Gambling, Public drunkenness, etc.

Causes of crime: –

(1) Lack of control of the head of the family over its members is one of the causes of crime.

(2) Crime occurs when the control of society over its members becomes as it is the case of present-day societies.

(3) Intoxicating and alcoholic drinks spurt crime rates.

(4) Due to some religious superstitions, some people commit crimes such as human sacrifices, looting, communal riots, etc.

(5) Due to a faulty education system, people commit crimes as the education system does not emphasize morality and character which are effective forces to check crimes.

(6) Defective marriages end in many crimes such as dowry.

(7) Poverty is a leading cause of crime in society.

(8) Unemployment is also an important factor causing crime.

(9) Feeble-minded individuals try to make up their deficiency by condemning society and taking revenge on that.

(10) The crime comes with the blood and that once the criminal has been born, he cannot be removed from that path.

(11) Under the impact of industrialization there is rapid urbanization and the people who migrate from villages feel tempted to violate laws

(12) Due to radical change in values with the influence of industrialization, people commit crimes under materialistic ambition.

(13) Today cinema is the most popular source of entertainment but it indirectly encourages forces of crime.

(14) Politicians encourage crimes for meeting their ends.

Kinds of punishments for the crime

(1) Capital punishment: -Such as put an immediate end to the life of the offender.

(2) Imprisonment: – which is of two descriptions namely:

(i) rigorous that’s with hard Labour; and

(ii) simple

(3) Forfeiture of property

(4) Fine

(5) Deportation

(6) Deprivation of civil rights

Preventive measures to reduce the crime rate

  • Reduce alcohol and drug abuse. Approximately 51% of crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Prohibiting access to the tools of crime (such as spray paints)
  • Improve assessment and interventions for youth.
  • People that had education and training, and who are at work, are less likely to offend.
  • Strengthen rehabilitation and re-integration services to organize and support people to measure law-abiding lives.
  • Wider Government Initiatives.

Conclusion: –

Crime is a great problem facing every society. It is a major social phenomenon of modern civilized and advanced societies. To curb the social problem, Education is the key tool. Here we are not considering superficial education, but that education that induces a quality in an individual to fight against social injustices and prevent themselves and others not to indulge in such activities by promoting awareness.

Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.”

References: –

Indian penal code,1860 book by Prof.S.N. Mishra

Author: Tanya Mishra,
Invertis University, (BA+ LLB) Hons - 2nd year

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