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Criminal vs illegal? (for a school project) Justice System, Police, Courts

Discussion in 'Criminal Charges' started by Jessy, Feb 5, 2022.

  1. Jessy

    Jessy Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi,
    currently I'm making a school project about the U.S. institution and as a German student I'm confused; what's the difference between something criminal and illegal? I've tried googling it but had difficulties understanding the results. To my understanding, every crime is also illegal but not everything illegal is a crime? And crimes are worse than illegal acts?

    Assuming there is a difference, would marketing defective automobiles be considered something illegal or a crime? And is waging undeclared wars really not a crime? I think that it will be different from state to state, so let's take California as an example.

    Any answers would be appreciated.
     
  2. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    Illegal means contrary to the law. Crimes are a subset of illegal activity with specific penalties involving the possibility of incarceration.

    Then there is legal liability. While being negligent isn't contrary to any law, you can be held liable for damages you cause for others under the law.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    And there are some things that are illegal that are not crimes. They are infractions (like traffic violations) for which a person can be prosecuted but not have a criminal record.

    There are county and city ordinances that make violations illegal but they are not crimes. A person can be fined for them or have other consequences but also not have a criminal record.

    You mentioned making defective automobiles. Good example of something that can be a crime and not a crime. If it's done intentionally to make bigger profits it could be crime for which corporate executives can be imprisoned. If it's unintentional, it could be negligence and monetary damages awarded to the victim.

    Another example is drunk driving. Drunk driving is a crime with imprisonment as a potential consequence. If the driver has an accident while drunk and causes damage or injury he will have to pay monetary damages to his victim for his negligence.

    Yes, American law is very confusing.

    If those few examples are bad, I suggest you go to Amazon and buy Law Professor James Duane's book "You Have the Right to Remain Innocent."

    Amazon.com: You Have the Right to Remain Innocent (Audible Audio Edition): James Duane, James Duane, Brilliance Audio: Books

    It's a real eye opener about the complexities of the American legal system.

    Now, for your amusement, is my History of Our Legal System:

    There was a time, long ago, when there were only 10 things that thou shalt not do.

    That was fine for a few thousand years until a fellow named Hammurabi decided that 10 things weren't enough and came up with 282 laws that he codified based on decisions that he had made during his 42 year rule of Babylonia.

    The intent was that everybody would know what their rights and obligations were.

    Many of our modern laws have evolved from that body of law but, sad to say, some of Hammurabi's laws have not stood the test of time, but should have.

    Examples:

    A man caught committing robbery was put to death.

    A man whose negligence caused damage to another was sold into slavery and the money from the sale was given to the damaged party in compensation.

    A person who committed fraud was made to pay ten times the loss to his victim.

    One that I especially like is that a judge who reaches an incorrect decision gets fined and permanently removed from his position.

    Time marched on and it became common for the rulers of the lands to make the laws that would insure their continued sovereignty. This was accomplished by writing the laws in arcane language understood only by the writers. This, of course, necessitated being able to teach the laws to their successors and resulted in the development of law schools where the practitioners were taught to dance around the fire and chant the arcane language of the law.

    To keep the understanding of the law to a select few the teachers of the law charged a very high entry fee which the practitioners subsequently had to recover by charging high fees to their clients who had no choice but to pay or be bereft of legal representation.

    That explains the complexity and cost of today's modern legal system.



    (Please excuse the historical inaccuracies. It's satire. Doesn't need to be picked apart by pedants and pundits who are better suited to picking their feet in Poughkeepsie.)

    :D
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The most sane and rational meaning of the above sentiment is simply to "confuse the perp" interrogation tactic when someone utters accusatory nonsense like that to confuse the person they are interrogating such that when a genuine question is posed, the perp's defenses will be down and she/he will utter “the truth” or confess to the crime.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Referring, of course, to "Popeye" Doyle's interrogation of a suspect in The French Connection.
     
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  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    The two words are generally synonymous.

    Where did you come by this understanding? I suppose someone might say it is "illegal" to breach a contract, but it's not a crime, but I wouldn't say that's an accurate use of the word "illegal."

    Why the concern over semantics?
     

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