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Legal Definition of Crime

The word “crime” juggles up many images, of mugging and murder, of cheating on taxes and illicit trading on drugs. The penal codes define thousands of crimes, differing from each other but with certain common elements. They all are human acts in the ground of violation of law, committed by an actor who acted with a criminal intent to cause a specified harm. Nevertheless, crime is an act defined by the law. Unless the elements specified by criminal law are present and proved beyond a reasonable doubt, a person should not be convicted of a crime. The following definition could serve as a legal definition‘Crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law (statutory and case law), committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the state as a felony or misdemeanor’ (Tappan, 1960,Amearican Sociological Review , vol-12,Num-1) .Although there are some customs of every society but not treated as law except the customary laws and the violation of those customs which are not sanctioned by the law are usually not treated as ‘crime’ rather treated as ‘deviance’ which refers to the individual who refuse to live by the rules that the majority of a society follows.

So, from the above words we can decipher that an act could be mentioned as a crime legally when it would carry the ingredients of crime i.e. the violation of statutory laws, intention (horrific) to commit/omit the act which refers to the ‘Guilty Mind’ and that ends up into a harmful causation which has the prescribed reward by the law if apprehended by the legal agencies.

No denying the fact that to prepare crime index the importance of sources of information cannot be ignored. Sources, as are found, mostly refer to legally defined crimes. Therefore, here in the study the legal definition of crime has mostly been taken into consideration. The major portion of analyses therefore covers legal crimes; a small touch of social crimes not reported to the police has been incorporated in the study. There is a popular saying, “number of crimes known to the police is not an adequate index,” is universally agreed upon because of many factors. Number of crimes actually occur in a society is not reported to police, all reported crimes are not recorded, and all recorded crimes are not prosecuted. In between the processes a large number of crimes are “lost”. Besides, white-collar crime, including the underworld ones and prohibitory offences are open secret but remain almost unexposed. So, as “dark figure” these occupy a good quantum beyond statistics. Moreover, there are disagreements regarding the viewpoints from which crime can be classified. In such a fluid and incomplete situation the task of indexing crime is complex and delicate. The statistics as available with the police and newspaper reports have been considered as the major sources of information.

There are numerous crimes committed which are not even prosecuted either formally or informally but not counted within the government statistics. In villages and also other areas some informal legal system to dispose the problem of crime exists. But these crimes though resolved are not counted. For example, at the grass-root level, the judicial system begins with village courts under the Village Court Ordinance, 1976. An aggrieved party may make an official petition, which requires a fee for submission to the chairman of the union council. The chairman may call a session of the village court with himself as chairman and two other judges nominated by each of the parties to the dispute. The majority of cases end at the village court level, which is inexpensive and which hands down judgments that reflect local opinion and power alignments. In recent years, government has introduced and is trying to establish the system of community policing. There are about 2,56,682 community polices around all over the country. Through the help of community policing thousands of cases have been disposed off from the commencement of the system. Moreover, many crimes are disposed and the wrongdoers are inflicted penalty by local informal system, such as Salish. It may be estimated that about 35-40% crimes are lost beyond the dark figure through the above stated ways.