Crime refers to many types of misconduct forbidden by law. Crimes include such things as murder, stealing a car, resisting arrest, possessing or selling illegal drugs, appearing nude on a public street, drunken driving, and bank robbery. The list of acts considered crimes is constantly changing. For example, at one time, people were charged with witchcraft, but this is no longer illegal. Today, it is becoming a serious crime to pollute the air and water. In colonial days, pollution received little attention because it caused few problems. During the 1700's in England it was not a crime for people to steal money entrusted to their care by an employer. Today, this type of theft, embezzlement, is a crime.
Crimes may be classified in various ways. For example, they sometimes are grouped according to the seriousness of the offense, according to the motives of the offenders. Such crimes may include economic crimes, political crimes, crimes of passion, organized crime, and white collar crime.
Crimes are often divided between acts that most people would consider evil and acts that lawmakers decide should be regulated in the interest of the community. The first
group includes such major crimes as arson, assault, breach of the peace, burglary, kidnapping, larceny, murder, rape, and robbery. The second group
includes crimes of a "rapidly growing urban society." These crimes include violations of income tax laws, liquor control regulations, pure food and drug laws, and traffic laws. Crimes in the first group usually involve severe punishments while crimes in the second group are generally punished by fines, notices to follow the court's orders, or other relatively light penalties.
Crimes are frequently classified according to their seriousness as felonies or misdemeanors. Generally, felonies are more serious than misdemeanors. Under the federal criminal law system, felonies are crimes for which...