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Crime refers to a breach of a law or rule. Crimes vary widely from a culture to a culture. Something can be a serious offense in one culture and punishable by death, while the same action may not be even considered a crime in another culture. For example, witchcraft was considered a serious offense during the Renaissance, but is not considered a crime in modern western society.

Things designated as crimes can be of two types, malum in se (something that is wrong in itself), and malum prohibitum (something that is wrong only because a government prohibits it). Things like murder, robbery, and rape are almost universally considered malum in se. Downloading pirated music,Wikipedia selling alcohol to a 17-year-old, and possessing marijuana are examples of malum prohibitum. In reality, there exists a broad area of laws where it is not clear which category crimes belong in, for example: animal cruelty, and drinking-and-driving.

Another division of crimes distinguishes between misdemeanors and felonies. This classification scheme has a long tradition somewhere way back there in common law, but today seems like an arbitrary distinction, with legislatures designating ever more things as "felonies" to show how tough on crime they are, and inventing new "felonies" out of thin air such as "racketeering" and "money laundering" — whatever those are.

(Un)reformed criminals[edit]

For example:

Examples of crimes in Western culture[edit]

See also[edit]