Crime is an act of breaking the law and is considered a serious offense for which a court may impose a variety of punishments including imprisonment, death, or fine. It is generally classified into six major categories: homicide, kidnapping, theft, sexual violence, arson, and fraud. Homicide means the unlawful killing of one person by another. It is also known as murder or carnage. The accused must have intended either to kill or to cause serious bodily harm. American jurisdictions sometimes distinguish between degrees of murder which sometimes convey different penalties. A murder is committed mainly due to conflicts, revenge, mental disorder or monetary reasons. Kidnapping is the abduction and detention of a person without his consent. People, generally children, are frequently kidnapped by gangsters in order that ransom may be extorted for their return, while adults may be kidnapped as a means of political blackmail. In the 1970’s and 80’s political kidnapping was increasingly linked to various practitioners of terrorism. Theft is the taking and carrying away of another’s personal property, without the owners consent, and with the intention of permanently depriving the real owner of it. Personal property includes tangible goods, fixtures attached to the land and legal documents. Theft is known as robbery when it involves the unlawful and forcible taking away of property or money from another against that person’s will by using violence or intimidation. Another type of theft is burglary which, in common law, is the breaking and entering of the dwelling of another person with the intent to commit felony. Sexual violence includes sexual harassment and rape. Sexual harassment is a civil offense in which employers are held financially liable for their own or their workers transgression against fellow workers of the opposite sex, usually women. It is discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Rape is usually defined as the act of forcing sexual intercourse upon an unwilling victim. It was traditionally considered an act that occurred only against females and only outside marriage. In recent decades, however, some states have broadened the legal definition to include spouses and males as possible victims.
Arson is the malicious burning of property for some illegal purpose such as destroying evidence, collecting insurance, or injuring someone. Most laws recognize several degrees of arson. The first degree includes burning an inhabited dwelling at night. The second degree is burning a building other than a dwelling at night. The third degree includes burning personal as well as real property for illegal purposes. Fraud is intentional criminal deception for the purpose of inducing another to part with something of value. It is done by a con artist who disarms his victims with an affable “nice guy” approach. But behind this friendly exterior is a shrewd psychologist who can isolate potential victims and break down their resistance to his proposals. The typical con artist is amoral- but seldom violent, with an excellent sense of timing. Some examples of fraud include embezzlement, forgery, using stolen credit cards, and impersonation. These classifications do not, however, cover all types of crimes. Certain crimes are committed by the government in violation of the rights of citizens: police brutality, wiretapping, and bribery. A final category of crime is victimless crime, which includes drunkenness, drug addiction, prostitution, and gambling. These acts involve only the participants and are not harmful to others. If harm occurs, it is inflicted only upon the willing participants. There are no easy solutions to the problem of crime. Minimum and maximum penalties for every criminal category have been established in each state, and judges are given the power to select sentences within those extremes as specific circumstances require. (607 words)