Choices in Crime
Definition of a crime
A crime can be defined as an unlawful act committed against a State or an individual giving rise to a civil liability. Crime can be categorized in two, misdemeanors as less serious crimes such as false pretenses, criminal libel, and their punishment are not for a term of more than 2years (Arrigo, 1999). The other category is felonies and they are more serious offenses whose sentencing can even be as strict as death this include, treason, murder, robbery with violence just to mention a few. In criminal law, there is a general principle of actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means “the doing of an act does not make a man guilty unless he has a guilty mind”. The two main essentials of crime are actus reus (the prohibited act) criminals have to be accused of having done a prohibited act and men’s rea (the intention) having the thought and this has to be proved. Involuntary acts are not punishable that is why men rea is important (Sherras v. De Rutzen, (1895) 1 Q.B.
There are qualifications of committing crimes which are infancy, whereby persons under 8yeasr are not criminally responsible, 12years, not responsible unless it is proved that they are aware of their actions (Barbour, 1999). And also bellow this age are not capable of carnal knowledge, under 18yeears cannot be condemned to death sentence but to a life.
Insanity all people are presumed to be of sound mind unless and until it is proved otherwise by a medical practitioner or were of a disease affecting the mind when the crime was committed. If found guilty, they are subject to the presidents will in a mental institution (Bowlby, 1988).
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It is never a defense unless it is proved that there was partial insanity.
Also is no defense for a crime; as one still had the men’s rea only to the wrong person.
If one was under duress, they are not criminally liable for any crimes committed.
Regina v. Howe (The Times 15of 20th February, 1987), where it was held that duress was not a defense to persons charge with murder in the first or second degree also supported by the case of
D.P.P. for Northern Ireland v. Lynch, (1975) A.C. 653, that duress was to be had to an aider and abettor to a murder. In which a married woman has a defense of compulsion if she commits a crime in the presence of and under the coercion of the husband and not in murder situations.
Necessity R. v. Dudley and Stephens (1884), 14 Q.B.D. 273, where two shipwrecked seamen on a raft were so weak from hunger that they killed and ate a cabin boy who was with them. They were found guilty of murder, but the death sentence was later commuted to one of six months’ imprisonment (Checkley, 1982)
Only reasonable force is allowed any other is unlawful.
Corporations cannot be held liable for the crimes of its agents and instead can be charged if it was in the course of employment.
Cause of crime
Reasons for commit crimes have been explored by various scholars to no avail and are still a pending question. They ranged from evil spirits to vast other reason like But the all come to the conclusion that this are caused by such factors and human weakness as by emotions of pride, greed, avenge or even jealousy (Bowlby, 1988).
There are rules in society which should be accepted and recognized for proper socialization this are:
- Personality and beliefs
This is based on religious background and upbringing mostly on the rules that were there in the family and how mistakes were handled can make one chose crime or not. For example, if one is raised in a poor background with lots of crime, without strict measures can be criminals.
- Interaction with society and interests
If life has been unfair to one in the sense that they struggle to appoint that they no longer respect the rules on the land or what others think of them, they choose to hurt the fortunate in society by robbing, killing, raping (Cleckely, 1982).
- Those who take up crimes have mostly lost the fear of being caught and they do their thing with much caution that it at times can take a long while to catch them.
- Quick self-benefits there are people who find this as a way of gaining wealth fast or even a name in society for being feared.
- Habit; social process and conformities can make one make choices if one, for example, is used to the good life and pleasantries, it can be difficult to adjust and the mental status of the old can lead one to do a crime seeing that they have no choice of maintaining a lifestyle and image (Fleisher, 1995).
- Reduction of opportunities of crime is one factor that encourages persons to be less involved in crimes by having more police patrols.
- Parental relations neglected and violated children have a likelihood of committing a crime as they do not have the values of a good society. Upon growing up they tend to give back to society a piece of what they have gone through and this is done by committing a crime as they think everyone is against them (Cohen, 1955).
- Heredity if one’s parents were criminals there are chances that they are also going to be involved in crime, and in twins, for example, identical ones can have similar criminal traits than the fraternal and the same applies to adopted children especially if they do not have good love and attention as a normal child should.
- Hormones; testosterone in the development of masculine features if produced in high amounts can give good basis needed in conducting a crime. Cortisol in the production of adrenaline levels giving more energy also in extremely low levels can make one be commit crime (Karr-Morse, & Meredith, 1997).
- Education levels very low levels can make one be more prone to crime. The government should encourage education as this way people are more prone to better lives than behind bars.
- Peer pressure, this is mostly with teenagers trying to prove a point by getting involved in crime and drugs in order to seem popular or grown up (Arrigo,1999)
- Drugs and alcohol addictions can make one make all the wrong choices in life in order to satisfy their addictions and their addiction can be lead to a point that one can do anything. These vices should be discouraged by the government to save many lives.
- The U.S government has made it easy for crime to be committed to that there is easy access to weapons of crimes. Unlicensed gun parlors should be shut down.
Crime can be discouraged by making it seem less appealing. This can be punished by:
- Capital punishment which is for such crimes as murder, treason or robbery with violence often imposed to offenders over the age of 18years and if a minor, then they are detained at the presidents pleasure, if woman and pregnant, she instead gets a life imprisonment.
- The other form of punishment is imprisonment; which is a restraint of a person’s movement and most of the time the sentence is accompanied by hard labor but if as the offence was compelled by a domestic feud, other ways are explored because imprisonment of the defendant could at times also affect the complainant, so alternative methods are explored.
Detention in camps
This is majorly for a period of not less than 6months and is accorded to petty offenders mostly as a deterrent to others.
These are mostly realistic amounts that an offender can raise and it is used on not very serious offenses when one has committed a crime they are sentenced to several months imprisonment if they cannot raise the amount owed for the fine.
Courts have the power to order a forfeiture of any property which has been used or is believed to be in connection with the commission of a crime and if not found, the value of the property instead is sought and is done together with any oth. If the property cannot be found or cannot be forfeited for various reasons, the court will assess the value of the property which ought to have been forfeited and order such sum to be forfeited. This can be done in addition to or in lieu of any other punishment which any other punishments.
Compensation, this is mostly in crimes against the person and the offender is ordered to compensate the injured party and as well as he having some other penalties.
Security for good behavior; this is a bond for having to keep and maintain peace.
Absolute and conditional discharge is subject to noting that all other punishments are not appropriate. If conditional, it is so long as the offender does not commit more crimes and it goes on for a period of a year and if an offender commits a crime during this period, then the are liable to charge for they crime for which they were discharged.
Can be categories both as a punishment and as a treatment for crimes done and is on community-based corrections in which they are counseled in a bid to bring them back to a socially acceptable state this is done mostly to minors or persons who try to commit suicide as imprisonment will not make them change.
Extra-mural penal employment
This is where if one is convicted for less than six months and no fine is accorded a person instead is made to work half a day and given food but the services done area not paid for, this ai a good way of avoiding congestion in prisons.
This is aimed at reconciling parties and encourage settlements though it is, in the long run, more expensive than litigation.
As for juvenile cases, they are reprimanded and encouraged for reformation(cohen,1995).
Decisions to commit crimes all have a social basis and the sooner they are dealt with, the lesser the crimes will become and thus a safer society for all.