What Constitutes Crime

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| Unit 1 SO0752A | Introduction to Crime and Deviance | | | | | “Why is it important to understand what constitutes crime?” | In the 21st century it is important for a variety of reasons to understand what constitutes crime. Not only does it broaden the criminological imagination but it allows you to questions the stereotypical images of crime presented to us on a daily basis through the media. We can also gain a more insightful understanding of the problem of crime. For many crime is seen as an act that breaks the law. According to Tappan’s (1947 p.100, quoted in Muncie et al 2010 p.4) “crime is an intentional act in violation of criminal law (statutory or case law), committed without defence or excuse and penalised by the state as a felony or misdemeanour”. In other words crime may be known as an act deliberately committed which breaches legal conduct punishable by state. This is a common understanding of crime today but unfortunately crime is not as simple as being a breach of law. The study of crime is vast and under constant debate. Crime is ever changing varying culturally, globally and historically. With this arise a number of issues in agreement of what a crime may be adding to its complexity. For example (Muncie et al,2010 p.6) highlights whilst publishing in fifty six countries it was legal to terminate pregnancy but in Nicaragua, Chile and El Salvador woman were banned from having an abortion even the mother’s life was at risk. Muncie also raises other various points. Take murder for example, a crime which under UK jurisdiction would be considered one of the worst and punished more harshly. Yet in times of war it is encouraged and accepted. This brings to question the proportionality of the justice system. There are endless examples of where there appears to be a set of double standards in defining what is criminal. Allowing you
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