Sunday, 23 January 2022





Crime is any action or offence that defies a state or country and in punishable by law. A crime 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.Crime is an anti-social and illegal behaviour to which penalties are attached. This anti-social behaviour is rejected by the by the society and punished by law. Those actions which are sinful but no punishments are attached to them they are not criminal acts like anti-social activities. Through no anti-social activity is punished by law the society and public condemns it. But in certain criminal tribes stealing is not looked upon as a crime. Children are praised if they steal property from others. They are taught the art of crime and how to become careful while committing the crime. 


1) Hall Jerome (1947) has defined crime as legally forbidden and intentional action, which has a harmful impact on social interests, which has a criminal intent and which has legally prescribed punishment for it.This definition suggests that no action should be considered as crime unless it has the following characteristics:

(a) Crime is legally forbidden

(b) It is not intentional

(c) It is harmful to the victim and the society

(d) It has criminal intent and

(e) Some penalty is prescribed for it.

2) According to Barnes and Teeters, “The term crime technically means a form of anti-social behaviour that has violated public sentiment, to such an extent as to be forbidden by statute.”



The most important thing common in all these laws is that they contain certain basic elements. The following are four basic elements of crime:

1. Accused person 

2. Mens rea

3. Actus Reus

4. Injury

1. Accused person

No crime can ever occur out of thin air because that would simply be an accident. In order to constitute a crime, it is important for somebody to commit it. The law should always be able to pinpoint the person who is responsible for committing an offence. The term accused person does not suggest that only a human being can commit offences. According to Section 11 of IPC, the term person also includes a company and an association or body of persons. Therefore, even a trust, an NGO and a public company can commit offences. Furthermore, certain offences can implicate more than one person for the same crime. In such cases, all persons will face trial and may have to face punishment together.

2. Mens rea

A mere person will never commit a crime unless he possesses some intention to commit it. The law generally refers to this intention as mens rea, which means guilty mind in Latin. The term mens rea has been derived from a famous Latin maxim: Actus non factit reum nesi mens sit rea. This basically means that an act cannot be guilty if it does not accompany a guilty mind. The element of mens rea itself comprises of certain inherent elements. These include intention, motive or knowledge. Which of these elements must exist in order to constitute an offence generally depends on the relevant provision. For example, Section 300 of IPC contains various kinds of acts which amount to the offence of murder. These acts may include an act done with the “intention” of causing bodily injury sufficient to cause death. Furthermore, it also includes an act of which the offender has knowledge of it being imminently dangerous. Therefore. We need to look at the relevant provisions to understand what kind of intention is necessary.

Crimes in the absence of mens rea

Although mens rea is an essential element of crime, some offences can occur without it. For example, Section 304-A of IPC makes death by negligence a criminal offence. In such cases, a negligent act would not include the intention to cause death. However, negligence or mistake itself is sufficient to constitute a crime.

3. Actus Reus

Merely possessing a guilty mind and thinking of committing a crime is not enough. The accused person must also act on that intention and do something in its furtherance. Actus reus basically refers to an act or omission which leads to the completion of an offence. Both mens rea, as well as actus reus, together are important to create an offence.Actus reus can be a positive act, such as stabbing a person to cause his death. It can also be an omission (failure) to perform an action. For example, driving a vehicle without a driving license is an omission.

4. Injury

The last of the basic elements of crime is an injury. There can be no crime if no person faces some kind of an injury. According to Section 44 of IPC, injury means any harm caused to a person illegally either in mind, body, reputation or property. However, there can be some crimes which might not require injuries to anybody. For example, driving without a driving license is a crime even if it may not harm anybody.


A crime should be an act or omission of an act. In other words, a person cannot be punished for his criminal thoughts. Only when his thought is expressed in criminal action, it will be considered as a crime. The act must be voluntary and the person (criminal) has control over his actions. In other words, any act committed when the person is insane and has no control over his action cannot be a crime. The act should be intentional with a motive and intention may be general or specific, i.e. any crime committed without a specific intention, all of a sudden, out of rage or any sudden situational factor is not a crime.



Asha Sebastian.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Equality before law

  Equality before law “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law. Meaning of right to equality This means that every pe...