Definitions 2 - Forensics

definitions of crime part 2 for forensic psychology

a2 psychology with aqa

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  • Created on: 29-06-12 13:18
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Definitions 2
A good way to define crime is to consider the following points:
Intention ­ was the act intentional or accidental?
o Need to establish whether the act was committed under duress
o Intention cannot be proved if the individual does not have sufficient understanding to
know what they are doing
o It is important to establish whether a person has learning difficulties or a psychiatric
illness before deciding whether their behaviour is criminal
Age ­ is there a minimum age where individuals cannot be considered legally responsible for
their actions?
o Very young children cannot be held responsible for their actions
o Legal systems have established an age below which people are not considered
criminally responsible ­ this differs between countries
o E.g. England and Wales ­ 10 years
o Scotland raised the age from 8 to 12 years in March 2009
o In Europe, only Ireland ­ where the age of criminal responsibility is 7 ­ previously has
a lower age than Scotland. It is 10 in England, 12 in the Netherlands and Canada, 13 in
France, 14 in Russia, Japan, Germany and Italy, 15 in Finland, Denmark, Norway and
Sweden, 16 in Spain and Portugal and 18 in Belgium, Brazil and Peru
o In the US it is 10 years of age for federal crimes but is as low as 6 years in some
o In Iran the age for boys is 15 years, but the age of criminal responsibility for girls is 9
Culture ­ is the concept of criminal behaviour universal? Can culture influence what
constitutes a crime?
o Yes ­ culture is very influential in deciding what constitutes a criminal act, e.g. male
circumcision is legal in England and other countries. Female circumcision is legal in
Egypt by illegal in England
o It is legal to buy and drink alcohol over that age of 18 in the UK; for orthodox Muslims
it is illegal at any age
o Cannabis has been decriminalised in the UK to be in line with countries such as Holland
and Spain. However, possession can be a hanging offence in Singapore
History ­ how does history reflect what is meant by crime or criminal behaviour?
o Suicide, homosexuality and adultery have been wholly or partially removed from
criminal law. Incest was legal until 1908
o Neglect and abuse of children and employees have been added (however, it has
long been a crime to abuse animals)
o New laws have to be passed regarding technology advances, e.g. driving offences,
computer hacking

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In essence, crime is a social construct that is subject to social and cultural influences rather than a
universal truth…read more


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