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Types of Criminal Acts

The word ôcriminal means different things to different people, and it is difficult to characterize just where to draw the line between ôreal criminalsö who commit theft or murder, for example, and ordinary people who do things that are against the law but much more minor, such as breaking the speed limit or making an illegal copy of a software program. In effect, in one sense, virtually everyone is a criminal in the literal sense, so criminality can be thought of as a continuum where the ôreal criminalsö are at the high end of the scale and everyone else is in the middle or at the low end.

Crime is a legal concept that is founded on political processes, but these differ from one place to another. It is helpful to think of crime from two perspectivesùthe moving target perspective and the stationary core perspective. The moving target perspective takes the position that acts that are criminal in a particular country, state, or time period are not criminal in another. Men marrying girls under 14 is statutory rape in most Western countries but is an accepted and legal custom among the Muslims, for example. Laws against abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia have been superseded in many locales by new laws that permit these practices. There are, however, some acts that are all but universally criminalized, such as killing or injuring members of oneÆs own society. There is little overlap in what each society defines as a crime.

The stationary core perspective asserts that there is a core set of acts that is always criminal, and that this does not change. This perspective makes use of the legal terms ômala in se,ö which means ôinherently bad,ö and ômala prohibita,ö which means ôbad because they are prohibitedö (Ellis & Walsh, 7). The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) presents some of the strongest evidence in support of this perspective, with its statistics showing that there is a core of c...

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Types of Criminal Acts. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:57, November 30, 2021, from