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Thursday, 26 August 2010 07:23

Classification of crimes

S. B. Mohammadi



In an ancient definition, according to gravity of the offence, crimes were categorized to three groups:  felonies, misdemeanors and petty offences. In the US criminal law, the felonies include very serious crimes, but in federal law, any crime for which the penalty is death or Imprisonment for more than 1 year is called felony. The misdemeanors are described as less serious crimes, for which the penalty is imprisonment for less than a year. Finally, the petty offences are summery offences that commonly come within the jurisdiction of a magistrate. In spite of this ancient categorization, the modern classifications tend to recommend the subject of crime as a criterion for classification. According to types of crime subjects, offences are classified in three major classes: offences against property, offences against the person and offences against security of the state and public tranquility.

Offences against property as a category of crimes, itself come in various forms and include many crimes like theft, robbery, burglary etc. Theft is determined as “dishonestly appropriating a property that belongs to another with the intention of permanently depriving that other of it.”[1] On the other hand, Robbery consists of two elements, stealing a property and using force in this unlawful act. Burglary also is a compound concept; for this a person is guilty of burglary if he enters any building as a trespasser with intent to steal, and commits another grievous crime.[2]            

Offences against the person include two major groups: fatal offences and non-fatal offences. Homicide, infanticide, and abortion are of the fatal offences. The homicide is divided into two type of unlawful killing: murder and manslaughter (that include voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter). Three elements are necessary to a murder be happened: unlawful killing, causation and malice aforethought. On the other hand, non-fatal offences comprise rape, assault and battery, motoring offences…

The third group itself is divided into two kinds: offences against security of the state and offences against public tranquility. The first includes crimes like spying (i.e. to collect secret information about another country, organization or person), and Treason (i.e. the crime of doing some thing that could cause danger to your country, such as helping enemies during a war). The second involves offences like forgery (i.e. the crime of copying money, documents, etc. in order to cheat people) and counterfeit (i.e. made to look exactly like money in order to trick people into thinking that they are getting the real money).

There is no way to prefer one of these classifications, unless increasing crime rates demand modern classification to include modern crimes. Beside this because of incredible technology developing, crimes become more complicated so their classification becomes harder day by day. 



[1] "General principles of English law", by P.W.D. Redmond, 5th ed, 1983, Macdonald and Evans publication, pp. 331-365.

[2] Like rape, grievous bodily harm and etc.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 August 2010 07:24
 

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