Criminology: elementary concepts
Origin of Criminology
Raffaele Garofalo, the Italian law professor, was the first to coin the term “Criminology” in 1885.
In Italian it is called criminologia.
In 1887 Paul Topinard, French anthropologist, used it in French.
Criminology and Two Schools
Criminology has been of scientific interest for only two centuries.
Two schools of thought, classical and positive approaches, contribute to the development of modern criminology.
Emerging in the eighteenth century classical school focuses on crime.
Positive school has its origin in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and focuses on criminal.
Definition of Criminology
According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica:
Criminology is the scientific study of the non-legal aspects of crime. In its wider sense, embracing penology, it is the study of the causation, correction, and prevention of crime…
This definition indicates that there are legal and non-legal aspects of crime.
According to Edwin H. Sutherland:
Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws… The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime, and treatment and prevention.
Ambit of Criminology
Broadly Criminology deals with:
1. Etiology (causation) of crime;
2. Prevention & control of crime; and
3. Punishment & correction of criminals.
In addition to this, Criminology deals with:
Theories and forms of punishment;
White-collar crime, corporate crime, and cyber crime; and Juvenile Justice System.;
Criminology studies different components of the criminal justice system, namely, they are:
1. Police; 2. Public Prosecutors;
3. Criminal Courts; and 4. Prison/Correctional Institutions
Now student/researcher of Criminology can study
1. War crimes; 2.Genocide; 3. Crime against humanity; and 4. Crime against peace.
Crime and Deviation
Crime is an act which violates criminal law in case of an organized state, or norms of a society in case of a tribal community or societies which do not have formal law and state.
Deviation is a broader term and indicates aberration from the social norms, but crime is violation of criminal law.
Concept of Crime
Homicide and theft are said to be categorized as crime by almost all the societies, but surprisingly this is not the case.
Roman Law of Twelve Tables, Babylonian Code of Hammurabi and other early legal systems did not list homicide or ordinary theft among crimes.
The criminals could be exonerated by giving compensation or by surrendering to the injured clan as a substitute worker for the victim clan.
For society that had not developed the concept of property, theft was not a problem.
Socioeconomic condition of a society therefore determines which acts are crime and need to be controlled by law or by other mechanism of social control.
In the Inca society of Peru, the destruction of a bridge was the most serious crime as it was a country, which was crisscrossed by ravines and canyons and bridges were the only ways of communication.
A person without a horse or blanket was in danger of death among the North American Plain Indians, so theft of a horse or of a blanket was the most heinous crime in that society.
In the ancient Germanic tribes honey was the only source of sugar for food and drink. As beehives produced the honey, if anybody stole a beehive he was punished seriously.
Legal Definition of crime
Legal definition of crime is convenient in distinguishing crime from sin and moral wrongs and it gives a basic premise for characterizing criminology as scientific and precise.
Paul W. Tappan has defined crime as “an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the state as felony or misdemeanor.”
Sociological Definition of crime
Sociologist does not consider legal definition sufficient and suitable for the purpose of criminology.
According to Raffaele Garofalo: Crime is an immoral and harmful act which offends two altruistic sentiments of common people, namely the sentiments of pity and probity.
Sociological definition implies that in a society most of the people follow some values, which they consider very sacred and which are necessary to maintain social solidarity.
There are few people who have no regard for these values and often overstep the socially erected values.
Society then provides punishment for the violators (criminals).
Legal and Sociological Definition
Crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the state as crime.
Crime is the violation of social norms and values which is harmful to the society collectively and also creates harm and inconveniences for individual citizens.
Characteristics of Crime
There are some principles which are used in determining whether any particular human behavior is crime or not.
First, an act must have some harmful consequences in order to become crime. Mere intention or mental condition is not enough.
Secondly, the harmful act must be prohibited by the criminal law of the state.
Thirdly, an intentional or reckless action or inaction must bring about the harmful consequence.
Fourthly, for criminal responsibility a person must have committed any prohibited act with mens rea or criminal intention.
One has to understand the distinction between intention and motive. It is possible that intention of any act is criminal but motive is good.
Fifthly, the mens rea and conduct must concur.
Sixthly, legally forbidden harm and intentional misconduct must have causal relation.
Seventhly, criminal law must prescribe some punishments for the forbidden act.
Classification of Crime
On the basis of inherent character and general agreement of people, crimes are classified into:
mala in se: and
Mala in se crimes
Theft, robbery, murder, rape, arson, assault etc. are mala in se crimes
As these are innately bad and create harmful consequences on society.
There is general agreement that these acts are criminal.
Mala Prohibita Crime
Mala prohibita crimes are those about which people are not in consensus that they are inherently bad, rather they are considered evil because they are prohibited by law.
Traffic violations, gambling, public drunkenness, violations of municipal laws are examples of mala prohibita crimes.
These violations are made criminal in order to make life more predictable and orderly and the violators are subjected to little stigma other than fine.
Crime Classification: Felony & Misdemeanor
Again crimes are classified in accordance with their gravity:
(1) the more serious are called felonies and are usually punished by death, forfeiture of property or rigorous imprisonment; and
(2) The less serious are called misdemeanors and are usually punished by fines or simple imprisonment.
A person commits a felony is called a felon and who commits misdemeanor is called misdemeanant.
It is very difficult to assume that felons are more dangerous and respond less positively to rehabilitative measures than misdemeanants.
Sometimes a person can commit felony this week and commits a misdemeanor in second week.
Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences
Section 2 of the Criminal Act, 1967 introduced:
arrest able; and
Non-arrestable offences in U.K. in the place of old categories.
A police officer or a member of a public can arrest an offender without warrant who has committed an arrest able offence. Most of the arrest able offences are indictable offences.
Indictable and Summary Offences
On the basis of trial procedure criminal offences are again classified into indictable and summary offences.
More serious offences are tried on indictment in the crown court (they are called indictable offences) and less serious offences are tried summarily in magistrates’ courts (they are called summary offences).
The offence is called indictable because the trial is commenced by a document known as bill of indictment which sets out the offence and its particulars with which the accused is charged.
Classification on the basis of motive
On the basis of the motives of the offenders, W.A. Bonger classified crimes as:
political crimes; and
Crimes against person and property
In spite of all other classifications one classification is very important and pervasive, which classifies crimes as:
Crime against person; and
Crime against property.
Every individual considers his/her body and property are the most important. So, they want their body and property will be secured and protected from all types of attacks by others and interference from outside.
Morality and Crime
Morality is wider than crime.
We get moral or value education from religion, family, educational institutions, our surroundings and as a whole from society.
Morality tells us which should be done and which should not be done.
When some morally reprehensible activities are prohibited by the criminal law, those are classified as crime.
Relationship between criminal law and morality
The relationship between criminal law and morality is important as some argue that criminal law should regulate morality of individuals, in addition to its function to regulate their criminal behaviour.
Determination of morality of any conduct is difficult.
The question is–
who is to determine the morality or immorality of any conduct?
Should legislators decide the issue? Or
Should it be determined with the help of judgment of the hypothetical average person of a society?
Private and Public Morality
Should morality be divided into
private and public and
Private morality should be kept beyond the ambit of law as suggested by Wolfendon Committee in England?
Respect the elders
2. Don’t tell a lie
3. Honesty is the best policy
4. Always speak the truth
5. Don’t steal the property of others
6. Don’t harm anybody
7. Give food to the hungry people
8. Help the poor
9. Don’t kill any person
10. Don’t hurt any person
11. Don’t harm the nature
Transformation of public morality into criminal law
• 1. Don’t steal property of others
• 2. Don’t commit robbery
• 4. Don’t kill others
• 3. Don’t harm others
• . Theft, Dacoity
• 2. Murder
• 3. Other crimes
Victimless crimes involve a serious question of morality.
Illegal use of drugs, adult consensual sexual behaviour, gambling and prostitution are examples of victimless crimes.
Why they should be considered as criminal when they are harming themselves?
In the absence of any harm to others and of any complain, why they should sustain stigma?
If the criminal law cannot deter the prohibited activities, what is the worth of making the law?
Criterion to declare any conduct as crime
Before declaring any conduct criminal, two questions must be answered properly.
First, whether the conduct is independently harmful of its repercussion on the general moral code?
Second, whether the whole moral fabric of the society will be broken down if the harmful act is not declared criminal?
Crime and Sin
Sin is violation of moral code or religious sanctions.
Crime is an act or omission which is done in violation of criminal law of any country.
1. Crime is a legally prohibited conduct.
2. Crime is committed in violation of positive law of the state.
1. Concept of sin has originated from religious texts.
2. Sin results in violation of the command of God.
like death penalty, imprisonment,
. A sinner has to undergo penance for deliverance and also punished or
forgiven by God