Nature of Criminology

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Criminology is the branch of the social sciences that deals with the scientific study of crime, the causes of crime, the frequency of crime, the responses of law enforcement agencies, and prevention methods. It is a subgroup of sociology. Various other subjects like statistics, biology, psychology, economics and anthropology, etc. It is very much related to sociology. It draws out the psychiatry, biology, psychology and other disciplines for explaining their causes and prevention of criminal behavior. The sub-branches of Criminology include penology, bio-criminology, and feminist criminology, etc. The term Criminology is often used in criminology to refer to the actual criminal characteristics of the person (Past Criminal Record of a person). In simple words, Criminology is the quality state of being a criminal.

Historically, criminology has played a reforming role in relation to criminal law and the criminal justice system. It has induced judges, legislators, lawyers, prosecutors, probation officers and the prison officials for better understanding of crime and criminals and for developing a better and more humane sentences and treatments for criminal behavior.

The main objective of Criminology is its concern for crime and the criminals. There is a basic presumption that nobody is a born criminal. It improves an official comprehension of criminals and the kinds of crime occurring normally or specially by a class of people or in particular localities. Therefore, an ultimate goal of criminology is to achieve a crime-free society.        

A person can only be punished if he violates the written law since crime is a socially constructed phenomenon and differs in social norms in the sense that there is no legal standing of norms and hence, a person cannot be punished by law.

Felonies and Misdemeanors

  • The difference between felonies and misdemeanors lies in the intensity and severity of the crime.
  • Felonies are the most serious classification of crimes, punishable by imprisonment of more than one year in prison and, in some cases, life in prison without parole and even the death penalty. For example: property crimes, personal crimes, rape, murder or the kidnapping.
  • The less intense form of felony is called misdemeanor. The maximum sentence for misdemeanors is 12 months or less. It can include a fine, probation, community service, etc. For example: traffic violations, trespassing or the petty theft.
  • Slapping someone is a misdemeanor and hitting someone with a cricket bat is a felony.