Basic Theory | Part 1 | Law of Crimes

Q1. What is a Crime ?

Ans. The term “crime” denotes an awful act that is punishable by the state. A common principle about Criminal Law is that, unless an act is prohibited by law, it does not quality as a crime.

Q2. What is Criminal Law ?

Ans. The body of law which deals with imposing punishment on acts of crimes is known as criminal law.

Q3. What are the categories of crime ?

Ans. The different categories of crime are:

  1. Crimes against persons : murder, aggravated assault, rape and robbery.
  2. Crimes against property : theft without bodily harm such as burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.
  3. Crimes against morality : prostitution, illegal gambling and illegal drug.
  4. White collar crime : generally economic offences committed by people of high status.
  5. Organized crime : distribution of illegal goods and services

Q4. What are the stages of crime ?

Ans. The stages of crime are :

  • Intention
  • Preparation
  • Attempt
  • Commission

Generally, at the first two stages i.e. the intention and preparation do not give rise to any criminal liability, and arises only when the act goes beyond preparation and is attempted.

Q5. What are the elements of crime ?

Ans. For a prime to take place the two essential elements is given by the maxim:

“actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea”

where actus reus, means the act of doing something accompanied by mens rea, i.e the intention to do something.

In other words, for a physical act to be termed as a crime, it must be accompanied by a necessary mental element. No act is usually criminal in nature unless the mental element (i.e. intention) is present.

Thus actus reus and mens rea are the two elements of crime.

Q6. What is actus reus in common parlance and what are its ingredients ?

Ans. Actus Reus in common parlance means a “guilty act”. It is made up of three constituent parts viz :

  • An action or a conduct
  • The result of the action or conduct
  • Such an act/ conduct being prohibited by law.

Thus actus reus is an act that is prohibited, blameworthy or culpable.

Q7. Give two illustrations when actus reus though appears to be criminal act yet cannot be termed so.

Ans. The illustrations showing when though actus reus appears to be criminal act yet cannot be termed so are:

  • An executioner’s job is to hang (no actus reus)
  • An army man kills as a part of his duty (no actus reus)

Q8. What is mens rea in common parlance what are its ingredients


Ans. Mens Rea means – guilty mind/ intent.

The ingredient of mens rea are:

  1. There must be a mind at fault/ intention to constitute a crime.
  2. The act becomes criminal when the actor does it with a guilty mind.

Q9. What do you mean by strict liability ?

Ans. There are some exceptions to the thumb rule of mens rea to be present for an act to be considered as crime. Such offences are the ones that arise due to a “strict liability” also termed as vicarious or deemed liability. Such a liability disregards whether there was actually any mens rea on the part of the person concerned.

Examples : Offences found in Special Acts such as Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, the Customs Act, 1962 and the Information Act, 2000 which provide deemed offences by directors/ responsible officers of a company, if a company has committed an offence.

Q10. What do you mean by Intention in common parlance ?

Ans. The meaning of doing an act intentionally in criminal law means something that is done wilfully and not accidentally or mistakenly. Such that the person doing the act is well aware of the consequences or the outcomes of his action or omission. The intention is all that is required to affix a criminal liability.

Q11. What do you mean by Motive in common parlance ?

Ans. A motive is the ulterior object behind doing an act. It is the driving force behind intention or commission of an act. The criminal law does not take into account the motive in affixing criminal liability or in determining criminal culpability.

Criminal law does not care for the motive, whether a person had stolen a loaf of bread to fed a starving person or stolen medicines to save somebody’s life, as long as it is a prohibited act, done knowingly.



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