Definition of a Crime: Breaking Rules that Violate the Law


Definition of a Crime

Crime can be defined as the breach or breaking of one or more rules or laws for which some governing authority deems as unlawful. While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime. For example, breaches of contract and of other civil law may rank as “offenses” or as “infractions” but are not considered to be a crime.

The label of “crime” and the accompanying social stigma normally confine their scope to those activities considered to be harmful to the general population or to the state, including crimes that cause serious loss or damage to individuals.

 Some Other Definitions of Crime:

  • An act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act
  • A specific act committed in violation of the law
  • An act in violation of the penal laws of a state or the United States. A positive or negative act in violation of penal law.
  • is defined as any act, default, or conduct prejudicial to the community, the commission of which, by law, renders the person responsible liable to punishment by a fine, imprisonment, or other penalty.

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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