Crime – Concept, elements, types and prevention

We explain what a crime is, its various elements and the types that exist. In addition, prevention and advocacy measures for crime.

A crime is an action contrary to the law and that, therefore, deserves a punishment.

What is a crime?

When we speak of a crime or crime, we refer to a social behavior that violates the codes of coexistence and legality established in the Law, and that therefore is considered a guilty, imputable, typical and unlawful act, that is, an action or omission contrary to the laws by which we choose to be governed and that therefore deserves a punishment or compensation.

The term crime comes from the Latin word delinquere, translatable as “abandoning the path”, since it is a crime of something that deviates from the path contemplated by the Law for peaceful coexistence among the citizens who take advantage of it. To that extent, what is and what is not a crime is established in the appropriate codes of the legal system of each nation.

Therefore, what is considered a crime or not changes over time and reflects the legal, cultural and historical values ​​of a given society. In this sense, most criminal codes refrain from incorporating dogmatic definitions of the crime, but rather define it based on what is allowed and what is not.

Crimes are the subject of study of the Theory of Crime, a branch of Criminal Law that proposes a hierarchy for the conception of punishable behaviors, according to which recidivism constitutes a more serious crime than the first offense, for example, or that flagrante delicto facilitates the execution of the punishment as there is no room for interpretations of what happened.

Elements of a crime

The degree of guilt is the express desire to commit the crime or not.

The elements of the crime are the components and characteristics that constitute it, not independently. They are classified into:

  • Action or inaction. An act committed or not committed, causing harm to others.
  • Typicity. Depending on whether the crime is contemplated or not in the penal code.
  • Juridicity. Depending on whether or not there are mitigating considerations that must be taken into account.
  • Degree of guilt. Express desire to commit the crime or not.
  • Imputability. The offender’s ability to be brought to justice.
  • Punishment. Possibility of actual execution of a penalty or sanction.

Follow in: Elements of crime

Types of crime

Depending on the offender, the crime can be special or common.

There are numerous classifications for the crime, some of which are:

According to their forms guilty:

  • Delinquent crime. The perpetrator of the crime committed it with awareness of what he was doing, that is, it was not an accidental act, but a premeditated one.
  • Wrongful or reckless crime. The offender did not want to commit the crime, but nevertheless did so due to recklessness, complicity, or other extenuating conditions.
  • Pre-intentional crime. Whoever committed the crime aspired to a lesser event than what happened, for example, in a fight he decides to hit his opponent and accidentally kills him.

According to the action committed:

  • Commission offense. It occurs when the offender has committed the crime by his own hand, that is, he is responsible for the action.
  • Crime by omission. It occurs when the crime is the consequence of an inaction of the offender, that is, of something that he did not do or that he allowed to happen. It can be of two types, in turn:
    • By default. Any crime resulting from omitting the rule to which one is bound by the penal code.
    • By improper omission. Any crime resulting from an omission not contemplated in the penal code.

According to the offender:

  • Special offense. It could have been committed only by someone in a privileged, particular or important position.
  • Common crime. It could have been done by any ordinary citizen.

According to the damage they cause:

  • Crime of injury. When there is appreciable damage to the person or their legal assets.
  • Crime of danger. When a person or legal asset was exposed to possible harm, even if the harm was not suffered.
  • Outcome offense. It requires that a behavior be carried out and have results.

Crime prevention

We speak of crime prevention to refer to the measures that can be taken, from the State or the citizens themselves, to avoid being victims of crime or reduce the probability of being involved in one. Some of these measures can be:

  • Educate the population regarding the daily forms of self-defense and prevention of urban crime.
  • Maintain urban surveillance as a crime deterrent.
  • Promote education for young people and adolescents and foster a work culture.
  • Avoid areas of the city considered dangerous and maintain constant police surveillance there.

Apology for crime

While society as a whole generally condemns the crime, it may happen that some factors aspire to justify the crime based on arguments and strategies of the discourse, which have as a consequence the promotion of crime in the population. When this occurs in a public place or in a public speech, in fact, most legal regulations consider it in turn a punishable offense: fomenting crime is a criminal act in itself.