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Legal System and society:Distinguish between Crime and Morality, Crime and Civil law or Tort.

Legal System and society: Distinguish between (1) Crime and Morality, (2) Crime and Civil law or Tort.

What you will learn in this post:-

What are the social problems in society?

What is a social problem what makes a social problem social?

What is the social policy discuss the approaches to a social problem?

Distinguish between (1) Crime and Morality, (2) Crime and Civil law or Tort.


(1) Crime and Morality- An act that may be highly immoral need not be a crime. Conversely, an act that is highly criminal need not be immoral. For instance, a man standing on the bank of a pond sees a boy drowning but does not move a finger or raise any voice. Thought is highly immoral but is not criminal either in England or India. Another instance can be a breach of trust, negligence and mismanagement of a company that ruins all shareholders, the seducer of a neighbour’s wife who ruins the life and home of a neighbour is a highly immoral act but not criminal. A man’s neighbour may die of starvation and he may have plenty of stock of grain. He may be morally guilty but not criminally. On the other hand, the acts of Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington and Garibaldi etc. were considered treason and highly criminal though they were great moralists. According to Kenney negligence to keep a highway in repair shocks nobody as immoral but nevertheless, it is a crime.

(2) In case all acts considered immoral are included in the category of crimes, then the state would become a moralist. Also what may be immoral from the standpoint of one man may not be so from another. That is why the state concerns itself with positive crimes, that is crimes or offences according to codified laws, which are greatly anti-social and may or may not be immoral. The state punishes the violation of positive law or law of the land.

(3) Criminal law is narrower in its scope than morality. All acts which are bad and blameworthy are included in the immoral acts but not in the list of criminal acts. The criminal law punishes only those crimes which are considered by the state and society fit for punishment under a codified law.

(4) Only when there is a definite and substantial injury or damage as a result of the illegal act or omission that the Criminal law punishes the wrongdoer. On the other hand, morality condemns all those acts which are bad and condemnable according to the common consent of mankind.

(5) When any offence is committed the criminal law provides deterrent punishment for the same. Violation of moral rules has got no such force of punishment behind them and that is why they are greatly violated in actual practice.

(6) A violation of a rule of the moral law may be included in the category of crimes and hence made punishable. For instance, cruelty to animals is punishable under criminal law. In certain offences, the punishment for an offence becomes more serious when it involves a serious violation of moral rules.

Concludingly, we may say that in spite of the above distinction between crime and morality they also great support and supplement each other. In the offences like murder, rape, arson, robbery etc. both rules of criminal law and morality have a common hatred and dislike. In any offence, if there has been a violent breach of a moral rule, the law immediately gives the most severe punishment. Thus criminal law recognizes the moral principles that it is morally right to hate criminals and as such punishes the accused out of that regard for moral rule and values.

Crime and Civil wrong or tort

Where a person does any illegal act or omission, he may be tribal civilly or criminally. the distinction between the two is as follows:

(1) civil justice is administered by civil courts and criminal justice is awarded by criminal courts. Thus there are different courts for the different types of illegal acts.

(2) According to Blackstone, crimes as public wrongs affect or injure the entire community, while civil injuries are private wrongs injuring only individuals. However, this difference is not very material because an injury to an individual is an injury to the whole community and an injury to the individual.

(3) Austin observes that in crimes the wrongdoer is prosecuted by the State and in the case of civil injuries, the injured party prosecutes the wrongdoer. This distinction between the two is also drawn on the basis of the legal result. civil proceedings result in a judgement for damages, compensation, an injunction etc. Criminal proceedings result in a number of punishments from hanging to a fine.

(4) However, in certain cases the result of civil and criminal proceedings may be the same. For instance, both may result in the defendant being ordered to pay money or a fine, e.g, a penal action. In certain cases, a civil action may also result in imprisonment as is the case in criminal cases. for instance, a violation of an injunction order passed by a civil court results in punishment till the defaulter obeys the injunction order of the civil court.

(5) The main purpose and object of civil proceedings are to enforce rights, e.g, claiming a debt, restoration of property, claim for damages etc. On the other hand, the object of criminal proceedings is to punish wrong and not enforce any right. In criminal proceedings, the victim is not a claimant of any right but accuses the accused of a wrong. this is true only to some extent. The criminal court may only order the binding over of the accused to keep the peace which is in the nature of warning than punishment. In civil cases also a man may be imprisoned for enforcement of rights, e.g, civil prison for no payment of the debt, breach of injunction order etc.

(6) In a civil wrong or tort intention is not material while in a criminal wrong criminal intention or mind is essential for punishing the criminal.

Summing up we may say that division between civil and criminal wrong is not very clear cut. An injury to an individual or property may be both a crime and a tort. For instance, the victim of rape can bring an action for damages or start criminal proceedings for the offence of bigamy. the same is true of the offence of assault, defamation, theft etc. As such, there is no sharp distinction between a civil and criminal wrong. Sir Stephen says, “Is this a crime or this a tort? Is he a father or a son for he may be both?”

Classification of Crime

Crime is not a homogenous type of behaviour in all societies. therefore, efforts have been made to classify crimes. The following are some of the principal classifications of crimes:

(1) Classification based on Atrocity- In respect to atrocity crimes are classified as felonies and misdemeanours. The more serious crimes are called felonies. They are usually punishable by death or by confinement in state prison. The less serious crimes are called misdemeanours. They are punishable by prison. The less serious crimes are called misdemeanours. They are punishable by prison or by fines. This classification of crime is not very useful from the sociological point of view. As a matter of fact, it is used as a classification of criminals. The individual who commits a misdemeanour is a misdemeanant. The misdemeanants are less dangerous in comparison to felons.

(2) Classification based on Motives- Bonger has classified crimes on the basis of motives. From this point of view, are of the following types:-

(1) Economic crimes,
(2) Sexual crimes,
(3) Political crimes, and
(4) Miscellaneous crimes.
This classification is not adequate. there is no crime that can be reduced to one motive. A desire for vengeance is evident in burglary, but Bonger classified it as an economic crime.
(3) Statistical classification- For statistical purposes crimes are classified as follows:-
(1) Crimes against the person,
(2) Crimes against property, and
(3) Crimes against public decency, public order and public justice.
Who can be regarded as a criminal- A person who commits a crime is a criminal. But in the eye of the law a person who admits of having been proved. thus a person who behaves in an anti-social manner but does not violate criminal law, cannot be designated as a criminal. As observed by M.J. Sethna, “In the eye of the law any person who is seven years of age, or of such age as by the law of the land concerned is deemed to be an age of sufficiently mature understanding, can be held liable, if he commits a crime: in that case, he may be termed as ‘criminal’, except in cases of insanity.
Sociologically, a person is not a criminal even if he violates criminal law. On the other hand, a person is a criminal even if he does not violate a law. A certain class of acts is defined as a crime. Any person who commits an act of this class is called a criminal. Thus the word criminal is generally applied the those who are ostracized by society.
Garofalo was the first legalist to attempt the sociological interpretation of crime. He described all those acts as a crime that every civilized society recognises as crime and redress by punishment. He observed that crime is an immoral and harmful act that is regarded as criminal by public opinion. It is an injury to the sentiments of probity and purity.
There are criminologists who apply the term criminal for those who conform to a social type which is defined as criminal. In this sense, the term criminal is applied to a person who violates the law. But it cannot be applied to those persons who are engaged in anti-social activities but do not violate the existing law of the land. “A person, then, as observed by Dr M.J. Sethna, “May fall within the definition of a delinquent if he has committed any breach of the law. “When an offence is committed, the court imposes the punishment.
There are scholars who have tried to understand criminals from the perspective of their nature. According to Dr Ellis, a criminal is a feeble and distorted person, Due to the lack of human help, he falls out of the social ranks. In fact, the early history of a criminal shows some sort of childhood leads towards maladjustment. Dr MJ. Sethna has observed. “The criminal is a mentally defective or emotionally disturbed person, a maladjusted being, most often a victim of unfavourable circumstances of lack of cultural and moral education. In some cases, he acts like an untamed animal and is out to assault, even with a dangerous weapon on the slightest provocation.”Conclusion:-

you have learned in the above post

What are the social problems in society?

What is a social problem what makes a social problem social?

What is the social policy discuss the approaches to a social problem?

Distinguish between (1) Crime and Morality, (2) Crime and Civil law or Tort.

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