Crime

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darkly shaded painting of two winged angels chasing a man who runs away from a fallen, naked man attacked and subdued for his clothing
Justice and Divine Vengeance in pursuit of Crime– 1808 oil-on-canvas by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

A crime (or misdemeanor or felony) is an act done by a person which is against the laws of a country or region. A person who does this is called a criminal.

The basic idea of what things are called "crimes" is that they are thought to be things that might cause a problem for another person. Things like killing another person, injuring another person, or stealing from another person are crimes in most countries. Also, it can be a crime to eat some types of food, such as meat of rare exotic animals, marijuana leaves, or mushrooms that contain psychedelic drugs.

When some criminals make money from crime, they try to stop the police finding out where the money came from by money laundering.

Levels of crime[change | change source]

There are various levels of crimes:

  • misdemeanor - is a minor crime, typically punished by a fee or less than 1 year in jail.
  • felony (or high crime) - is a major crime, typically punished by 1 year or longer in prison.

Different countries have many different ideas of what things are crimes, and which are severe enough to be treated as felonies. Some things that are crimes in one country are not crimes in other countries. Many countries get their ideas of what things are crimes from religions or controversial events which cause a law to be quickly created. For example, a religion might consider eating a particular food to be a crime. Another example is the new ban in some regions on texting while driving an automobile, which was created after people died in wrecks when they were distracted by mobile phone messages.

In many countries, if people say they made or wrote a book, movie, song, or Web page that they did not really make or write, it is a crime against copyright laws. In many countries, helping to grow, make, move, or sell illegal drugs is a crime.

In most countries, police try to stop crimes and to find criminals. When the police find someone who they think might be a criminal, they usually hold the person in a jail. Then, usually, a court or a judge decides if the person really did a crime. If the court or judge decides that the person really did it, then he or she might have to pay a fine or go to prison. Sometimes the judge might decide that the criminal should be executed (killed). This is called Capital punishment (or the Death Penalty). There are countries in the world who execute criminals, and others who do not.