Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crime and the Characteristics of Criminals

Definition of Crime
In defining crime, Elliot and Merrill have written, “Crime may be defined as anti-social behaviour which the group rejects and to which it attaches penalties”. In this way all those activities for which society lays down punishments are crimes. Those activities to which no punishments attach may be sinful but they would not be criminal. But some thinkers have deemed it fit to call all anti-social activities criminal, and have defined it comprehensively. According to Karl Mannheim, “Crime is an anti-social behaviour”. This constitutes a definition of crime from the social viewpoint. From the legal viewpoint, violation of law constitutes crime. In the words of Gillin and Gillin, “From the legal point of view, crime is an offence against the law of the land”. This definition does not include those anti-social activities which are not prohibited by law. Actually criminality should attach both to anti-social activities and to activities forbidden by law. According to Krout, “A crime is an act opposed to the established attitudes of a group as defined by law at a given time or place”. This definition of crime is more appropriate.


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