In flagrante delicto

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in Flagranti, Antwerp 1607

In flagrante delicto (Latin: "in blazing offence") or sometimes simply in flagrante (Latin: "in blazing") is a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offence (compare corpus delicti). The colloquial "caught red-handed" and "caught rapid" are English equivalents.[1][2]

The phrase combines the present active participle flagrāns (flaming or blazing) with the noun dēlictum (offence, misdeed, or crime). In this term the Latin preposition in, not indicating motion, takes the ablative. The closest literal translation would be "in blazing offence", where "blazing" is a metaphor for vigorous, highly visible action.

In Japan, the phrase's translation, Genkōhan (現行犯), is used to refer to citizen's arrest, and is listed under Section 213 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as such.

Aside from the legal meaning, the Latin term is often used colloquially as a euphemism for someone's being caught in the midst of sexual activity.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jennifer Speake (Editor) (1999). The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Foreign Terms in English. Berkley Books, Oxford University Press.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Jonathan Law & Elizabeth A. Martin (2009). A Dictionary of Law. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ "in flagrante". Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. if somebody is found or caught in flagrante, they are discovered doing something that they should not be doing, especially having sex
  4. ^ "in flagrante delicto". Merriam-Webster. 2 : in the midst of sexual activity

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