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SOCI 2450 (35)
Chapter 1

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SOCI 2450
Jim Davies

CriminologyChapter 1What is CriminologyWhat is CrimeCrime is human conduct in violation of the criminal laws of a jurisdiction that has the power to make such lawsWithout a law that circumscribes a particular form of behaviour there can be no crime no matter how deviant or socially repugnant the behaviour in question may beIn the study of criminology three major forms of the law must be distinguished civil criminal and administrative Civil law deals with arrangements between individuals such as contracts and claims to property It exists primarily for the purpose of enforcing private rights Criminal law regulates actions that have the potential to harm interests of the stateSerious criminal offences are referred to as indictable offences It carries a sentence of 14 years or longerSummary conviction offences are criminal offences that are less serious than indictable it carries a maximum penalty of six months in jailHybrid offence is a criminal offence that can be classified as indictable or as a summary conviction the classification is usually made by the CrownAdministrative law regulates many daily business activities Violation of such regulations generally results in warnings or fines depending on their adjudged severityAlthough the legalistic approach to crimewhich sees crime solely as conduct in violation of the criminal lawis useful in the study of criminology it is also limitingNot easily recognized by any legalistic definition of crime however is the social moral and individual significance of fundamentally immoral forms of behaviour Some activities not contravened by statute nonetheless call out for a societal responseAnother serious shortcoming of the legalistic approach to crime is that it yields the moral high ground to powerful individuals who are able to influence the making of laws and the imposition of criminal definitions on lawbreakersFormalized laws have not always existedCommon law law originating from usage and custom rather than written statutes The term refers to nonstatutory customs traditions and precedents that help guide judicial decision making Statutory law law in the form of statutes or formal written strictures made by a legislative or governing body with the power to make lawAlthough Canada has enacted a comprehensive federal legal code it still adheres to the commonlaw traditionFrom a political point of view crime is a result of criteria that have been built into the law by powerful groups and that are then used to label selected undesirable forms of behaviour as illegalThose who adhere to this point of view say that crime is a definition of human conduct that is created by authorized agents in a politically organized societyThe political perspective defines crime in terms of the power structures that exist in society and asserts that criminal laws do not necessarily bear any inherent relationship to popular notions of right and wrongCrime and DevianceMost crimes can be regarded as deviant forms of behaviourSome forms of deviance are not criminal and the reverse is equally trueLaws are subject to interpretation and may be modified as social norms change over timeSome forms of behaviour are motivated by religious beliefsOther forms of behaviour and quite common but still against the lawSome forms of behaviour are illegal in some jurisdictions but not in othersWhat do Criminologists doCriminologist one who is trained in the field of criminology also one who studies crime criminals and criminal behaviourSpecially skilled investigators crimelaboratory technicians fingerprint experts and others who work to solve crimes are referred to as criminalistsPolice officers corrections professionals parole officers and others who do the daytoday work of the criminal justice system are referred to as criminal justice professionalsAcademic criminologists and research criminologists generally hold doctoral or masters degrees in the field of criminology or criminal justiceMany criminology professors are involved in research or writing projects by which they strive to advance criminological knowledgeThe term criminologist may also be applied to persons who have earned undergraduate degrees in the fieldThese degrees may provide entry into police investigative or support work probation and parole agencies courtsupport activities and correctional workWhat is CriminologyPreliterate people explained deviant behaviour in terms of spirit possessionCriminologists must not only deal with a complex subject matterconsisting of a broad range of illegal behaviours committed by frequently unknown or uncooperative individualsthey must also manage their work under changing Ology means the study of something and the word crimen comes from Latin meaning accusation charge or guiltThree other important types of definitions exist They are disciplinary causative and scientificDisciplinary definitions are those that focus on criminology as a disciplineCausative definitions emphasize criminologys role in uncovering the underlying causes of crime
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