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Former good article Crime was one of the Social sciences and society good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
February 25, 2006 Good article nominee Listed
September 27, 2007 Good article reassessment Delisted
Current status: Delisted good article

First Sentence Must be Modified[edit]

The opening sentence currently is The term crime does not, in modern times, have any simple and universally accepted definition. This does not conform to the Wikipedia rules for a first sentence, which state it should be aimed at the nonspecialist and should answer two questions (Wikipedia:Guide_to_writing_better_articles#First_sentence_content): What (or who) is the subject?" and "Why is this subject notable?". For the more general rules of a good opening paragraph see here Wikipedia:Lead_section#Introductory_text. OED is a nonspecialist source. OED states a crime is an offence and then I replaced offence with its simplest definition, an illegal act. Some complain this definition only holds for statuatory crimes. This debate can be resolved by talking about 'Crimes in Fact vs. Normative Crimes". Crimes in fact are well defined because they are statuatory. Normative crimes are debatable. A good shared reference is Chapter 1, What Is a Crime? A Secular Answer Jean-Paul Brodeur, with Geneviève Ouellet Mrdthree (talk) 06:45, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

I recommend using the OED to define the crime in fact vs. normative crime. Then the debate on how to define crime in an 'absolute or normative' sense can be mentioned, vis-a-vis the discussion of Smith and Hogans Criminal law, which is on Google books ( Smith and Hogan is written for the specialist and its goal is to provide lawmakers with an absolute definition of crime so that statutes can be written accordingly.A relevant part of their Smith and Hogan chapter 1 (Defining Crime): "An attempt to define a crime at once encounters a difficulty. If the definition is a true one, it should enable us to recognize any conduct – act (or omission) – as a crime, or not a crime by seeing whether it contains all the ingredients of the definition. But reflection will show that this is impossible. When Parliament enacts that a particular act shall become a crime or that an act which is now criminal shall cease to be so, the act does not change in nature in any respect other than legal classification. All its observable characteristics are precisely the same before as after the act came into effect." Mrdthree (talk) 07:02, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
A possible sentence that identifies the topic and the debate for the nonspecialist would be: A 'crime' denotes an unlawful act punishable by the state. I think the first sentence/paragraph work great. The trivial definition is useful to the nonspecialist and the debate about 'crime' more generally to the specialist. Mrdthree (talk) 07:27, 6 February 2014 (UTC)


The definition is incomprehensible even something so simple as: In English legal tradition, the word 'crime' denotes an unlawful act punishable by the state. How to check? type in crime in any online dictionary and you will get an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law. TYpe in 'offence' and you will get an "unlawful act". Its not a high school essay. If there are cases where the meaning of the word is unclear, start with where the meaning is clear. To say a crime is ambiguous in meaning is a lie and hurts the credibility of wikipedia (opening sentence was The term crime does not, in modern times, have any simple and universally accepted definition,') Mrdthree (talk) 03:21, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Heres the OED entry for all to inspect: 2a. An act or omission constituting an offence (usually a grave one) against an individual or the state and punishable by law. c1384 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Deeds xxiii. 29 Hauynge no cryme [L. nihil criminis] worthi the deeth, or bondis. a1425 (▸c1400) Mandeville's Trav. (Titus C.xvi) (1919) 191 Ȝif the kyng himself do ony homycydie or ony cryme, as to sle a man..he schall dye þerefore. ?1449 Petition in Rotuli Parl. (1767–77) V. 156/2 And he be founde faillyng therinne, he shall not oonly renne into the crime of Perjurie, but be put oute of his office. 1526 Bible (Tyndale) Acts xxv. 16 The Cryme wher of he is accused. 1574 J. Baret Aluearie C 345 To be charged, or conuinced in manie crymes. a1616 Shakespeare Timon of Athens (1623) iii. vi. 82 If by this Crime, he owes the Law his life. 1675 Sir L. Jenkins in Life II. 714 Every Man, by the Usage of our European Nations, is justiciable in the Place where the Crime is committed. 1726 Swift Gulliver I. i. vi. 100 Ingratitude is among them a capital Crime, as we read it to have been in some other Countries. 1769 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. IV. 5 A crime, or misdemeanor, is an act committed, or omitted, in violation of a public law. 1809 J. Adams Let. 9 Jan. (1854) IX. 316 The impressment of crime punishable with death by all civilized nations. 1867 Manch. Examiner 10 Oct., With the moralist bribery is a sin; with the legislator a crime. 1913 Sat. Evening Post 22 Feb. 4/1 If a person were accused of a crime and seemed likely to be indicted. 1959 F. Sondern Brotherhood of Evil iv. 60 Sicilians who had left their country to avoid punishment for crimes they had committed there. 2004 H. Kennedy Just Law (2005) i. 28 Judith Ward was also convicted of crimes she did not commit. b. Such acts collectively; breaking of the law. 1485 Caxton tr. Lyf St. Wenefryde sig. a iii, O thou wycked man whiche hast..slayn by cryme as an homycyde this noble vyrgyn. 1533 Fabyan's Chron. II. f. ccxxviii, None myght lyue that thou accused of cryme. 1576 G. Pettie Petite Pallace 9 Seing in al degrees of freind ship, equality is cheefly considered, I trust you will clere me of crime that way. 1622 Bacon Hist. Raigne Henry VII 196 It was neither guilt of Crime, nor reason of State, that could quench the Enuie that was vpon the King for this Execution. 1670 T. Blount Resol. Jvdges Statutes Bankrupts 49 The High-Commissioners cannot extend themselves but only to Crime. 1762 O. Goldsmith Citizen of World II. 38, I was imprisoned, though a stranger to crime. 1769 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. IV. 94 Felony. comprizes every species of crime, which occasioned at common law the forfeiture of lands or goods. 1833 Times 21 Aug. 4/5 Here was ample cause to account for the increase of crime. 1879 J. A. Froude Cæsar viii. 72 Others came, like Sergius Catiline.., men steeped in crime. 1932 N.Y. Times Bk. Rev. 10 Jan. 17/3 A gangster who calls himself Napoleon and who goes in for crime in a big way. 1969 R. Salerno & J. S. Tompkins Crime Confederation 203 The profits of crime are untaxed. 2005 T. Hall Salaam Brick Lane vi. 130 Before long, they had joined a street gang and found themselves embroiled in a life of crime. Mrdthree (talk) 03:33, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

The "online dictionaries" to which you refer are tertiary sources that will not be sufficient to contradict the secondary sources that agree with what is in the article. The OED is clearly not a reliable source for English law, because it cites, in support of its definition, a number of other sources that lack legal credentials. Nor does it say, in express words, that its definition is undisputed. (Both of these crticisms will be applicable to other dictionaries). James500 (talk) 21:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

my definition was ok..[edit]

So i'm not sure why someone removed it and replaced it with:

Societies define crime as the breach of one or more rules or laws for which some governing authority via mechanisms such as "police power" may ultimately prescribe a conviction.

This is wrong, as explained here:

"Societies define crime as the breach"

Not always. Sometimes dictators define what is a crime, thus society may have nothing to do with it. In addition, international laws may overide individual societies, as they did in Nuremburg. The german nazi's who were held accountable at nuremburg came from a society which held them as being heroes.

"of one or more rules or laws"

A crime is not a breach of one or more rules, because that makes it a SEPERATE crime.

"which some governing authority"

OR FORCE. It is not always an authority, particularly in dictatorships.

via mechanisms such as "police power"

Police power has nothing to do with it. Ever. Courts are responsible for convictions. Police cannot convict anyone. Even in relation to issuing fines, this is NOT a conviction.

"may ultimately prescribe a conviction."

The word conviction also fails to consider other penalties, such as fines, which don't require a conviction, or other sanctions, such as civil rammifications (such as precluding someone from participating in a certain work place.. or receiving a certain service), or corporal punishment in third world countries, particularly on a tribal level.

Thus, my original definition of:

"A crime is a breach of a rule or law for which some governing authority or force may ultimately prescribe a punishment or consequence."

was more than apt.

 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:00, 9 August 2009 (UTC) 
We have few things at play here:
  • We have "crime": as an abstract vs "a crime" as a specific proscribed deed.
  • Even dictators in some sense represent or express the will of a "society". And international society (the source of international laws) also functions as a society. Can we use some more general term than "society" without implying that only universal laws exists and that every societal group must follow them?
  • We can refer to "governing authority or governing force". But we may need to take care lest our definition allows a couple of bullies to prescribe what constitutes crime.
  • The court-system forms part of a policing power. And in police-states, the boundary between police-force and courts can become ragged.
  • "Conviction" has a technical sense that relates to crime, just as a tort or a misdemeanor may relate to non-convicting punishment.
Some of these things need spelling out in greater detail -- but probably in the body of the article rather than in in the first paragraph.
-- Pedant17 (talk) 03:02, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Everyone knows that there are contexts in which the word 'crime' is well defined; specifically in the legal traditions of English speaking countries. The fact that 'crime' has a clear definition in these contexts needs to be mentioned in the lead paragraph without it the whole article suffers from a lack of credibiility, like stating 2+2=4 is a controversial statement with no agreement (for which a case could be made but not to mention the case where 2+2=4 is true in the lead paragraph misses the point of why people would usually access the wiki), making me think somehow someone is pushing original research or a POV. Mrdthree (talk) 03:07, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
The only person pushing OR and a POV is yourself. What you think, in your personal opinion, everyone knows is certainly OR and irrelevant. Your claim that "crime" is well defined in the English legal tradition is expressly denied, with detailed demonstration, by a number of sources that are far more credible than you. James500 (talk) 21:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)


I disagree with this change in the intro, but appreciate that the intro could be more user friendly, which was evidently the intent of the editor:

A crime is an term generally used to describe any act that violates the law. Some use the term more loosely to define it as any act that violates a political, religious, or moral command considered important in protecting the interests of the State or the welfare of its citizens or subjects.

The first sentence seems to imply that laws are static, universal, and neutral. Laws vary dramatically in different contexts. The second sentence (which was the original definition), would include laws (laws being such commands that are codified into a legal system). This implies thay are 2 different meanings. The "some use the term" is a weasel phrase, and isn't so much a problem because it hides who those "some" people are, as much as it suggests there are "other" people who use the term differently; if that's the case, what's the different usage?

Dictionary definitions give more than one meaning, and seem to emphasize morality, but on the whole (at least at are not so narrow. True, 'crime' is commonly associated with violating laws, but it is also used popularly in a non-legalistic way ("it's a crime to let that beautiful garden go to ruin"). In particular, when someone is called a "criminal," it is much more of a value-judgement than "law-breaker." (Also "criminal class/element/underworld" etc.). It seems to me that it needs to be emphasized that "crimes" are designated by a certain portion of the population, and are often controversial, and can be an attempt to create a norm or control a group of people (e.g., prohibiton of drugs and alcohol) rather than reflect a consensus.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I'll check back in a while, and if there's no discussion, I'll revert the intro. Also note other sections of the article need improvement more than the intro. Bobanny 18:46, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

I was the one who put in the revised intro and I think we will probably just have to agree to disagree. I think that the vast majority of people understand crime as being any act that violates the law. The example you give("it's a crime to let that beautiful garden go to ruin") I think points out an idiom ("it's a crime to ...") and not a example of the widespread use of the term crime. As for the term "criminal", I think this generally is reserved in our society to refer to those that break laws and not those that break solely moral laws. As evidence of this point, I would argue that people in the United States usually don't refer to those that have premarital intercourse as criminals even though many consider this behavior immoral. Nevertheless, I am willing to defer to community consensus on this and any other opinions are very welcome. Remember 13:08, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Just for the record, I don't disagree that the most common association is with breaking a law. But that's covered in the introduction, which tries to be very broad (I'm not the original writer, but I did substantially re-work it). The distinction it makes between 'civil' and 'criminal' law is also important here (i.e., not all law-breakers are 'criminals'). Check out the definition they give at law for a comparison. Bobanny 17:42, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Everyone knows that there are contexts in which the word 'crime' is well defined; specifically in the legal traditions of English speaking countries. The fact that 'crime' has a clear definition in these contexts needs to be mentioned in the lead paragraph without it the whole article suffers from a lack of credibiility, like stating 2+2=4 is a controversial statement with no agreement (for which a case could be made but not to mention the case where 2+2=4 is true in the lead paragraph misses the point of why people would usually access the wiki), making me think somehow someone is pushing original research or a POV. Mrdthree (talk) 03:05, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
The only person pushing OR and a POV is yourself. What you think, in your personal opinion, everyone knows is certainly OR and irrelevant. Your claim that "crime" is well defined in the English legal tradition is expressly denied, with detailed demonstration, by a number of sources that are far more credible than you. James500 (talk) 21:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Crime vs offence/offense[edit]

"Crime is any activity prohibited or not authorized by law that may be punishable by the governing authority." But (in some jurisdictions at least) some offences are not crimes. Is this explained somewhere in Wp? Nurg (talk) 00:53, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

It looks like it was inserted by User:JonHarder in a well-intentioned attempt to improve the article, but as he's not a lawyer, it's also understandable that he would come up with a definition that seems to collide with the definition of a tort. The lead paragraph should clarify the distinction between a crime and a tort. But I'm too busy to write a properly encyclopedic paragraph myself at the moment. Generally, my understanding is that one of the purposes of law is to bring about justice by providing a remedy for wrongs. Some wrongs are punishable by the sovereign as crimes and some wrongs may be sued upon by private citizens as torts. At least that's what I learned back when I was in law school. --Coolcaesar (talk) 09:17, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

US-specific stuff, structure, etc.[edit]

My first impression when reading this page was that it was a disorganized mix of US-specific facts, general discussions, and very particular facts. It really needs some attention. David.Monniaux 10:43, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This is why I removed what I did:

“psychiatric sentences bypass most rights like due process” – Maybe where you are at, but in my state you have a right to appointed counsel, the highest burden of proof, and a full jury trial just for asking, plus you must be reevaluated periodically. According to esteemed Texan lawyer Jack Lang, this is of "highest priority."

Sections "institutional immunity, terrorism, drugs, and money laundering."

These sections show little or no knowledge of actual facts or law and rather consist of political rants posted without reference or substantiation. If the information they contained was relevant to anything, it would be only in specific crimes, not in the definition of “crime.”


OK, what do you consider the worst part of the contribution? Let's start from there. FET 04:36, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

The cleanup tag[edit]

Overall, the academic standard is very poor. The "General rules" section is not conceptual and therefore is overly U.S.-centric. The section on "Trial" is clearly NPOV (although I did not tag it as such). A benign interpretation of it might consider it one side of a semiotic analysis which examines the narrative content of a trial, but as it stands, it is quite clearly a political attack on the system. What purports to be a classification of crimes is an ad hoc listing of random crimes (some of which are not actually crimes) and not a classification at all. The list that follows under the heading "Reasons" does not list reasons. The "History" section is a hopeless mishmash of material without actually demonstrating how the concept of crime emerged from delicts. etc. I could go on but the whole page needs to be completely rewritten. As soon as I have finished the other work I am doing on the substantive law, I will return to do it. If others wish to pick from this list and start putting things right, feel free to pitch in. David91 02:36, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

  1. Wikipedia strives for NPOV.
  2. Explain Jargon. You're speaking in almost unintelligible jargon/gibberish: 'Semiotic analysis,' 'is not conceptual' (what is?), 'etc. If you plan on encoding the article with this language, rendering it unreadable, prepare to face conflict from others.
  3. You're coming across very confrontational and arrogant, some consider that to be uncivil. I will try to assume good faith, but you'll have to stop acting like you hold a monopoly on what crime is or isn't.
  4. I hope you can correct some of the things you see that are listed as examples of crime, but really aren't, that would be very helpful.
  5. I'm removing the clean up tag, I think it's unwarranted.

(Narkstraws 03:15, 12 December 2005 (UTC))

Thank you for trying so hard to assume good faith. Opinion is a most personal part of the human experience. I and the others who have commented above seem to hold different opinions but they are equally valid opinions and deserving of respect. There is no point in a debate at this stage. I will return when I have the time and make the changes I think are necessary. David91 04:07, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

This article has really gone downhill. Unfortunatly I don't have time these days for a major overhual, but it does need it. For example, not only are claims western-centric, but they are geographically biased. Also, what is going on with the "trial" section? It doesn't even make sense. I prefer not to do massive reverts, but I think almost every section of this needs work. Take this as my vote for doing so, and if I get some time I will try to do it myself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mneumisi (talkcontribs)

This article really has improved.[edit]

Good job! (Narkstraws 20:08, 25 February 2006 (UTC)) I think it needs sources though. I see a lot of facts without any verification as to how authoritative those facts are. (Narkstraws 20:10, 25 February 2006 (UTC))

If you identify the facts, I will do my best to provide the sources. I know I tend to take a lot of background information for granted (the penalty for knowing too much). Thank you in advance for your help. David91 03:07, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Well I think the Mesopotamian law history could use a few sources. I could go in and add a 'need source' tag if you want. I could also help you find sources, I'm a librarian (student). (Narkstraws 16:10, 26 February 2006 (UTC))
One of the best general books to get an overview is Oppenheim's, edited postumously by Erica Reiner; Kramer also useful. I have added the reference. Next reference required? I am tiring so either leave a list or, as suggested above, use the 'need source' tag and I will attend to it as and when strength permits. David91 16:50, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't have a lot of time today to work on it... but in the next day or two, can go through and review the article and determine what needs more referencing. I can also expand the crime classification portion of the article. The section on "reasons" also is lacking, in my opinion. What do we mean by "reasons"? Instead, I think we need a brief blurb on general causes of crime, what makes people commit crimes... I'm willing to work on that. Also, the "Types of crimes" in one of the infoboxes is helpful. But, I'd like to add a table or infobox that defines some of they key crimes (e.g. robbery vs. burglary, terms that the general public often confuses when they call the police). Some of the other sections, such as trials may need to be summarized more and split into a separate article. I'll do more to review and work on this in the next day or two. -Aude (talk | contribs) 17:21, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the "reasons" section is eliptical and should probably be rewritten. We already have templates for {{Criminal law}}, {{English criminal law}} which list the offences but making a new infobox global rather than jurisdiction-centric is problematic. As it stands with the criminology templates, lay readers are referred to reasonably generic material. Are you proposing to discriminate between English and U.S. terminmology for the criminal law? I hesitated whether to remove the links to crimes because of this problem and, in the end, left it because readers would expect to be referred to something on burglary and robbery, as you say. But the majority of the existing pages are specific either to the U.S. or English law. . . I do not think that including thumbnail definitions or explanations on this page is sensible as an alternative for the same reason. Although some of the concepts overlap between the jurisdictions, oversimplied explanations are usually misleading to lay readers depending on their cultural expectations. There is already a page on trials so I have no problem with you editing the "crime" entry down so long as you ensure that the existing trial page is enhanced where appropriate. I have responded to the criminologist removal on the relevant talk page. I have a long list of things to do and I am reluctant to spend too much time here because it delays my progress. I therefore now hand the continuing responsibility on to those sufficiently interested. I will respond to requests for references to the material I have written and will, of course, watch what happens with interest. But, for now, I am off to fill in gaps elsewhere. David91 03:35, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm undecided as to how to deal with the "crime classification" aspect of the article. It definitely needs to be generalized and/or explain the key differences across jurisdictions (including U.S., U.K., but also other parts of the world). As for the trials section, the Trial (law) article is very lacking now. I'll look into if/how to merge the material from here, into there. And finally, please stick around to help with the crime, criminology, and criminal justice topics, as you wish. I think a good goal would be to get this article to featured status. You've already brought it much the way there. Though, I understand if you wish to spend time contributing on other topics, and sure your contributions will be excellent. -Aude (talk | contribs) 05:13, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
As the edit timeline on this talk page shows, I tagged this page for a rewrite back in December and I have only just worked through the cycle to get to it. I have more than a hundred other pages/topics on my list with certain very definite promises made to others to fulfil before I can devote anything more than token time to this page. The problem with this place is that everywhere you look you find error and deficiency and there are only so many hours in the day. So much to do, so little time to do it. David91 05:28, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Definitely understandable. Not only do I need to work on Portal:Criminal justice, but Portal:Geography needs serious attention, as do its related topics. And many requests for maps... But, criminal justice and criminology need to be my main priorities. -Aude (talk | contribs) 05:33, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I think the way to handle making all the discrete articles more coherent is through use of a Portal. Just in the last few minutes, I have started Portal:Criminal justice. My first consideration was whether to call the portal this, or Portal:Criminology. While I don't necessarily consider criminology to be a subtopic of criminal justice, I have gone with the term criminal justice. Understanding of causes of crime, criminal behavior, etc. is all ultimately key for criminal justice policy, crime control, and prevention. Whereas, I can't quite see criminal justice as a subtopic of criminology. Maybe, we can have both as portals. Need to think more how to handle this... -Aude (talk | contribs) 04:10, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
The portal idea is interesting. I have tinkered with your links, picking the most relevant between policy, public policy, and public policy (law). David91 04:36, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Please do tinker. I'm sure you can give valuable input into organizing the topics, as you have a different perspective than mine and can ensure that criminology, criminal justice, etc. are presented in neutral way. My bias is towards and expertise with policing, crime statistics, crime prevention, etc., and as you mentioned on my talk page, Chicago school, environmental criminology, rational choice, etc. And, I also have an American-bias, but am familiar with the U.K. (Home Office), Netherlands, Australia, and Canada. It's definitely important to recognize and explain differences in criminal law and definition of crimes, across jurisdictions. -Aude (talk | contribs) 05:05, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Also, with the first infobox, where it lists a few criminologists. I think that needs to go. Listing Michael Maltz there troubles me. I know that Michael wrote the article himself, (a practice strongly discouraged by Wikipedia, as it's difficult for one to be NPOV when writing about oneself). I've gone in after him to cleanup the article and try make in more NPOV. And, I recognize he has contributed a lot to criminology, so won't call for deleting the article (as tends to be done with autobiographical articles). But, there are many other important criminologists that ought to have articles, which I could write. Once that happens, the list of criminologists will be too much for an infobox. Of the ones listed now, it's a *select* list and not necessarily representative. -Aude (talk | contribs) 17:32, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I just copied this comment to Template_talk:Crimin#Criminologists, where this should be discussed. -Aude (talk | contribs) 17:35, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Revert of recent major changes[edit]

I just reverted some major changes to the intro and parts of the article by a new user, User:Gregzeng. I was reading the article as part of the review for the Version 0.5 nomination, and was considering rejecting it based on the intro. It seems to me (not a legal expert!) that this user is not adhering to the neutral point of view policy. I think the user could perhaps make the same point by judicious insertion of a few words in the main body of the article (not the intro), and the user should cite the source of the assertion. That would ensure that this view is represented, without it taking over large parts of the article. As I said, I'm not an expert on crime, so others who watch this page can feel free to undo my revert (and my copyedits). We'll hold off at WP:V0.5N until things settle down. Walkerma 06:13, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

"Why criminalize" NPOV discussion[edit]

I beleive some of these lines do not represent everyone's view:

the costs of not criminalising (i.e. allowing the harms to continue unabated) outweigh the costs of criminalising it (i.e. restricting individual liberty in order to minimise harm to others).

That's pretty subjective. Certainly anarchists don't agree. Libertarians may or may not depending on how far they lean. Small groups, yes, but flat-out saying that laws are always worth it is stretching things.

The process of criminalisation should be controlled by the state because:

Establishes an opinion. A more accurate wording would be "is controlled by the state" to reflect reality.

The victims may only want compensation for the injuries suffered, while being indifferent to the more general need for deterrence:

Saying there is a need for deterrence is very POV in my opinion. There is alot of criticism on whether or not deterrence is even effective (especially regarding the death penalty), much less that it is needed. Liu Bei 00:13, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
No objections, so I made the changes Liu Bei 16:37, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Even with these changes, the section in question is still definitely NPOV. It offers no opposing perspective on the issue of justice without the State, how Market Anarchists (and Anarchists in general) answer to these objections, doesn't even acknowledge that literature exists contrary to the positions given (such as Bruce L. Benson, _The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State_, or the numerous articles on the subject available on the Internet), and IMO it should be eliminated. Franc28 06:25, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia isn't meant to water down concepts to "fit everyone's view"", and it's not meant to be expert opinion only. Everyone who pontificates here thinks they are an expert. All distinguishably related concepts should be prefixed by the most generic, sure. But statements like "In this sense criminalization can be viewed as nothing more than State-sanctioned revenge." are sure signs of pontification. Anonymous 03:16, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

````` Just an opinion about crime after watching an episode of ID on Robinson of Kansas the serial killer. If he had been prosecuted more severly for his actions in embezzlement and fraud in the first place, he may not have not continued is on going crime of embezzlement and and added serial killing of woman on top of it.

It is a known fact that in each consequence of adverse behavior that is not accounted for accordingly to stop the person from committing it again will allevate his crime. I find it so odd when watching 20/20 or nightline when they convict an innocence person for 20 years, but then allow a ongoing person to committ embezzlement and fraud for 30 years with probation as his punishment then be becomes a serial killer on top of that and kills over 10 woman or more and only 40 years later he gets the death sentence and is actually still inprison waiting his execution in 2012. Astonishing. No wonder the normal person can so easily turn to criminal activity or lifestyle. Because the innocent will be convicted of the crime the criminal is actually committing or the crime will go completley unnoticed until 40 to 50 years later before he ever gets caught only to get a life sentence in a secure safe environment paid by the people who he victimized in the first place or those who are left. This is true diabolical sinsister sickness of this countries justice system. Moreover if any of these parents had any sense of care or concern about their children and raised them to protect themselves, live within their means, work smart and disciplined for their goals and distinguish between a fraud, con and a sincere upstanding well intentioned individual, they would have walked away from this man, much less ever trusted one they met over the internet. It is a viscious cycle of fraud in this country and this is one result of it. The Robinson case and many othe like it according to television and the internet should instill one moral if any, that is trust your instincts and don't chase after the gold coin, and have some self respect as a woman. `````` — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

GA status[edit]

We're in an on-going debate over whether GA's must have inline citations or not, and this sort of article is probably just the sort of thing I think many editors for it have in mind, these really need to be turned into internal citations, how's anyone supposed to figure out which source goes to where? This article may be delisted in the near future if inline citations become mandatory. Homestarmy 18:39, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, this is awkward, this is the GA collaboration now, and i'm almost the last person to make a comment on the talk page almost 6 months ago.... Homestarmy 04:17, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Silence equals full agreement. Adding citations to something like this is pretty much a re-write, since you don't know what the original author was drawing from. Bobanny 05:54, 11 February 2007 (UTC) Some parts have author-date, but unless you track down the actual book, there's still no page number, which is technically required. Personally, I think "GA" should require correct citations. Even if they use an author-date style, there still needs to be specific pages cited. Bobanny 05:59, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

GA review – delisted[edit]

Symbol unsupport vote.svg In order to uphold the quality of Wikipedia:Good articles, all articles listed as Good articles are being reviewed against the GA criteria as part of the GA project quality task force. Unfortunately, as of September 27, 2007, this article fails to satisfy the criteria, as detailed below. For that reason, the article has been delisted from WP:GA. However, if improvements are made bringing the article up to standards, the article may be nominated at WP:GAN. If you feel this decision has been made in error, you may seek remediation at WP:GAR.

Ruslik 09:38, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

The article generally does not cite its sources. While there are Harvard citations in some parts of it, other important parts like 'Definition' have no citations at all. In addition, I found strange phrase in end of 'U.S. classification' subsection: 'The following are crimes in many criminal jurisdictions:'. Should something be after these words? The style of this article is IMO too academic for wikipedia, such a style is appropriate for a research article, but not for the ecynclopedia. Ruslik 09:38, 27 September 2007 (UTC)


I restored the list of references, since these were put here by the primary author (User:David91) of this article. The article was mostly written before inline cites were used. A few of the references are already referred to in the notes section, and this article needs more inline citations. These references are probably useful for that task. Once the task is completed, some may end up unused and can be removed later. --Aude (talk) 16:34, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

We are all criminals[edit]

Because at some point we have all broken the law. The term is misused and misleading.If MP's cannot be charged because they were 'within the rules', but clearly what they did could be described as 'criminal'. A man was recently questioned for two hours by police for making a joke about transexuals. What or who is more 'criminal'. In todays topsy turvy world where the wrong people are in the right positions, and law abiding citizens can be criminalised whilst clearly 'criminal' ones get away with it, we should be very careful using this word. Maybe 'law' itself is not enough, relying on the purely technical aspects of it. Maybe we should use a completely different system to the 'justice' system, cause its not justice its a joke. The RANGE of powers government

Indented line

has now makes anyone a criminal at any time, we all live in fear. Wrong, upside down. 'Criminal' is meaningless. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:18, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

I shall put a reference to labelling theory in the article. I think that that will deal with your criticism. James500 (talk) 15:48, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

POV in passage in lede[edit]

This paragraph in the lede is uncited, and strikes me as POV: "The label of "crime" and the accompanying social stigma normally confine their scope to those activities seen as injurious to the general population or to the State, including some that cause serious loss or damage to individuals. Those who apply the labels of "crime" or "criminal" intend to assert the hegemony of a dominant population, or to reflect a consensus of condemnation for the identified behavior and to justify any punishments prescribed by the State (in the event that standard processing tries and convicts an accused person of a crime)." Wardog (talk) 11:13, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

This passage is now in the section on labelling theory.James500 (talk) 03:01, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

New Section[edit]

Bob Crow -- someone please remove this name from the 'see also' page. I enjoy a jab at communists as much as the next guy, but this detracts from the substance of the article. Furthermore, I feel the article needs a good description of what constitutes a crime in common law countries (which make up about 1/3rd of the world population wise). Eg actus reus + mens rea without a legitimate defense = a crime... I'm actually quite shocked that the page is locked tbo. —Preceding unsigned comment added by The hell surfer (talkcontribs) 00:33, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Natural-Law Theory, P5[edit]

This paragraph is unclear. (Others are too, but this one's pretty bad, I think).

The first problem is with the antecedent in sentence 2 after the problem label, and the way it relates to sentence 1. Sentence 1 says that 'despite everything', natural-law theorists 'have accepted...', making it sound like they've acceded to something contradictory to natural-law theory. So why, in sentence 2, is it posited that anybody contends that natural law is a necessary condition for legal validity?

Continuing, I don't see how the rest of the sentence is nevertheless a problem: 'all valid law must, by definition, count as morally just.' Because a contradiction to natural-law theory is noted in sentence 1, this remainder must be read as a facet of some theory, but the reader wouldn't know which one, unless one has read very well and can dissect and repair the lack of clarity here.

Additionally, the last sentence is just a redundant restatement of the consequent discussed above.

Most importantly, though, the proposition in sentence 2 does not entail the problem identified, at least as explained here. For moral criticism of the law is, wouldn't you agree, not concerned with law deemed valid, but rather law deemed invalid. The idea that all valid law must be morally just, as you note, is a tautology within the theory contended to posit it (we assume), and has no bearing on criticism of law in question. Or are you discussing the concept of law itself? If the latter, then maybe the language just needs to be cleaned up a little.

Metafax1 (talk) 12:10, 23 December 2009 (UTC)


Perhaps inmplement this quote in a "causes" section. (talk) 13:50, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

A source for this quote is here

Attributes it to the book "Politics".James500 (talk) 02:46, 23 May 2011 (UTC)


I have cut the passage from "categorisation by type". It is not clear whether there is any source. I really am not sure what the first paragraph is trying to say. I have doubts about the list. It looks more like OR than an official categorisation (which is what seems to be being asserted. James500 (talk) 18:51, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

Governments criminalise antisocial behaviour — and treat it within a system of offences against society — in order to justify the imposition of punishment. Authorities make a series of distinctions depending on the passive subject of the crime (the victim), or on the offended interest(s), in crimes against:

Sourcing of claims related to reporting of crime, etc[edit]

The following passage has just been cut from the article:

Most crimes are not reported, not recorded, not followed through, or not able to be proved.

I seem to think that the British Crime Survey has produced results that appear to show that most crime is not reported (and that the rate of reporting is related to the prevelance of insurance). Could someone source this please? James500 (talk) 23:52, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Etymology confusion[edit]

The word crime is derived from the Latin root cernō, meaning "I decide, I give judgment". The word may derive from the Latin cernere - "to decide, to sift"....

Both sentences are presented as declarative sentences, the first as definitive, the second as possible. But they both can't be true. Either it IS derived or it MAY BE derived.

I suggest that the latter be reworded to something like: Ernest Klein rejects the derivation from "cernere" and suggests, etc. Caeruleancentaur (talk) 15:49, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

The first two sentences are not always true, and could be misleading[edit]

" definition is that a crime, also called an offence or a criminal offence, is an act harmful not only to some individual, but also to the community or the state (a public wrong). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law."

Reading this with absolutely no previous idea of what a crime was, one might come to the conclusions that any act which is harmful to an individual or to society is a crime and therefore forbidden, and that all crimes are harmful to an individual or to society.

Both of these are false. Examples: Smoking cigarettes - harmful to an individual, but not a crime and not illegal. Gambling - not (innately) harmful, but illegal (in many places).

How about something like "A crime is an act which has been forbidden by an authority of a jurisdiction, often because the act is considered to be harmful to an individual or to the community or state."? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:42, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree it needs to be clarified. The fact that 'crime' has a clear definition in certain contexts needs to be mentioned in the lead paragraph otherwise the whole article suffers from a lack of credibiility. Gray areas where crime is ill defined can also be addressed such as 'moral crimes' . Mrdthree (talk) 03:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
I've just reverted your edits. Crime does not have an accepted definition in the English legal tradition (except in a few very narrow cases where there is a statutory definition of that word). There has been a massive debate going on for many years as to what "crime" means in English law. See, for a summary, chapter 1 of Smith and Hogan's Criminal Law. The definition you had at the start was dubious because it would include a tort for which punitive damages can be awarded, and also civil contempt, and also the penal actions that could formerly be brought by common informers. Conversely, it might exclude felo de se. And the OED, from which you took that definition, is a tertiary source and is not a reliable source for English law stricto sensu or Anglo-American law generally. James500 (talk) 18:37, 5 February 2014 (UTC) Other sources that back up what I am saying are the Wolfenden Report and chapter 15 of A First Book of English Law by O. Hood Phillips. And this and this. James500 (talk) 19:25, 5 February 2014 (UTC) See also my replies above on this page, made with this edit. James500 (talk) 21:28, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
The opening sentence is unacceptable: The term XXXX does not, in modern times, have any simple and universally accepted definition. It does not conform to the Wikipedia rules for a first sentence, which should answer two questions for the nonspecialist reader (Wikipedia:Guide_to_writing_better_articles#First_sentence_content): What (or who) is the subject?" and "Why is this subject notable?". For the more general rules of a good opening paragraph see here Wikipedia:Lead_section#Introductory_text. Since the article lead didnt provide any information for the nonspecialist I went to a 'tertiary source' to answer the question who or what is a crime. Then went back to wikipedia and replaced the first sentence with the developed definition from the tertiary source, OED, a nonspecialist source. OED states a crime is an offence and then I replaced offence with its simplest definition, an illegal act. If this is an unacceptable definition the alternative is to summarize the article as it currently exists, answering the questions as much as possible. Mrdthree (talk) 06:40, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I am fairly certain that we have a guideline somewhere that says that where the definition of a term is disputed, an article must not present one of the proposed definitions, or a synthesis of the proposed definitions, as the definition. James500 (talk) 13:15, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I am ok with the opening sentence now. I wouldnt go to a dictionary after coming here. I still think the central dispute about the definition is something like crime in fact vs. crime in theory. I didnt and dont want to read much of the article. I would bet the question most people want to know when going to wikipedia on crime is whether certain acts are crimes in certain locales, followed by people charged with a crime, and then college and law students. It was a pool with no shallow end.. or ladder... only a high dive. Mrdthree (talk) 01:30, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

Foul play[edit]

On some other articles, "foul play" (told to be synonymous with "crime" in the disambiguation page) directs to here as a wiki-link; but the term "foul play" is non-existent in both the article page and here, the talk page. May I please request from someone with proper knowledge to include the term to somewhere relevant to make others understand what it is, in relation to this article and the topic. Thank you very much. --Stultiwikiatext me 17:16, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Added a file from Commons[edit]

Felony Sentences in State Courts, study by the United States Department of Justice.

I've added this image from Commons to this article.

Feel free to use it how you like.

I hope it's a helpful source of information.

Thank you,

Cirt (talk) 19:41, 27 September 2015 (UTC)


Can someone add on the page that crime is caused by black people? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:48, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

only if you can supply some reliable references that support that. Keith D (talk) 18:49, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

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