Crime and the Constitution

Constitution is a set of principals, so there aren't actually any crimes, which are defined by the Constitution. Most of the modern constitutions are more like  the guidelines for all lawmakers and  governments when passing certain acts into laws. Laws must be based upon the Constitution, and theoretically cannot exceed the boundaries set by the Constitution except in the case when those laws are passed in legislative bodies as organic laws. Constitution is a fundamental document and a source upon which the governments receive their power. The Constitution is also an agreement between citizens and people who are selected.

The fifth amendment of United States Constitution mentions word "infamous" in reference to crimes. This reference is made on "crimen falsi."

"Crimen falsi in the civil law is defined as the crime of falsifying; by writing, by forgery of a legal document, by falsely testifying, by perjury, by counterfeiting public money, by counterfeiting public seals or other deceitful practices."

"Crimen falsi at common law is defined as any crime, which may injuriously affect the administration of justice by the introduction of falsehood and fraud."

Crimes are proscribed by the Penal Codes, which are more or less based on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Black's law dictionary provides the definition of the Constitution in American law as"the written instrument agreed upon by the people of the Union or of a particular state, as the absolute rule of action and decision for all departments and officers of the government in respect to all the points covered by it, which must control until it shall be changed by the authority who established it, and in opposition to which any act or ordinance of any such department or officer is null and void. Cooley, Const. Lim. 3"

Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of criminology makes much difficulty in attempts to set a final and conclusive definition of criminology. Criminology encompasses the knowledge of various sciences, which all together make valuable contributions to criminology. Problems in defining criminology come out of different theoretical standpoints. Sociologists tend to define criminology from their theoretical angle as well as do law theorists, psychologists, biologists, philosophers, anthropologists, social pedagogues and many other theorists. Every theorist gives us their own definition of criminology, so when defining criminology it is best to define it according to objects of research.

Why is criminology an interdisciplinary science? Many scientific fields or specialized disciplines are incorporated into criminology. Methods and knowledge's of psychology, sociology, philosophy and criminal justice are part of criminology. Criminology uses all available knowledge's which are provided by these sciences. Crimes are already researched by other sciences and criminology presents a full  integration of all knowledge's using the own methodology which is adapted to the specific research object.

Best definition of criminology describes the criminology as a social empirical science. Main objects of research in criminology are  the crimes, victims, criminals, social environment, criminality in general, penal treatment of delinquents, behavioral prognosis, types and methods of crime control. Crime is an individual act, while criminality as a term includes all crimes. Objects of research in criminology are also asocial behaviors (predelinquent phases) and asocial persons.

There are many areas of research in criminology. One of those fields of study is the victimology. Victimology is relatively a very young scientific field which studies victim relations with the criminal, victim contribution to crime causality, victim rehabilitation, effects of secondary victimization trough criminal Court processes, report studies (victim willingness to report the crime) etc. Victimology also focuses upon theory concepts how to prevent future victimization and how to increase the number of crime reports against the criminals.

Most of the criminological disciplines and specialized fields focus upon crime causation, while other efforts are pointed on research of various forms of crimes. Police officers or crime investigators are usually focused on investigation of certain types of crimes like sexual offenses, murders, thefts or other forms of crime. They have received adequate training and theoretical knowledge, which make them grand masters of their profession after five years of work in that field.

Police officer is some sort of a  medical doctor, who has to discover and to identify social illnesses, which affected the society, and to find appropriate treatment, which of course is mirrored in effective, swift and just criminal investigation procedures, the lawful collection of evidence and  the professional objectivity.

Historical overview of crime causation

Antique philosophy


In 4th Century BC Aristotle offers a philosophical standpoint on crime causation. Aristotle stated that the crime is poverty related. He described the poverty as a mother of all revolutions and crimes.

Medieval philosophy

Francis Bacon

In 17th Century Francis Bacon stated that criminality will depend on social situations. He described his standpoint in this sentence: "Opportunity makes a thief." Bacon pointed out that human behavior will depend on situations.

French renaissance philosophy

In 18th century encyclopedists Voltaire and Rousseau introduce the concept of free will. Crime is the same as hedonistic behavior and failure to fulfill the social contract obligations.

Classical criminology


Classical theory of crime explains that crime is a product of believes that benefits of committing crimes are far greater. People opt in decisions making between two scenarios A and B. A scenario is:  a "crime isn't profitable because you will get caught" and B scenario presents certainty in decision making "that you will never get caught". Most of the criminals think they'll never get caught.
Main principles of classical school of criminology were:
1. Crime is a rational choice, and most people are capable to commit crimes.
2. People will commit a crime after they have compared potential costs and benefits of such actions.
3. Most of the people fear punishment, and the certainty, severity and speed of punishment will have a impact on the level of crime.
4. Punishment needs to fit a crime and individual differences of perpetrators shouldn't have a n influence on the punishment.
5. The criminal justice system needs to be predictable, while laws and punishments must be known to public.
Proportionality in criminology means that crime must fit a crime. The first model of proportionality in applying punishments was lex taliionis or law of retaliation.

Crime is a behavioral human characteristic and a choice.

Positivist criminology


Positivist school of criminology (Italian anthropological school of criminology) tried to fully explain the crime causation using determinism. Italian anthropological school of criminology uses biological determinism or evolutionary atavism. The atavism is an evolutionary remnant which can be found on 33 % of the people who have failed to socially and genetically evolve. They also kept some stigmata, which makes them identifiable. Some theorists claim that Lombroso never was a biological determinist. This is not true.

Crime is inherited and some people are born to be criminals.

Lombroso's study of criminology

Sociological school of criminology stated that crime is a result of multiple factors, which can be divided into biological, psychological and social factors. Today, the new criminology rejects eclectic or multi-factor theories (mixed theories), and tends to identify those factors instead of generalizing or claiming those factors aren't identifiable.

Crime is a result of social factors and conditions that affect human behavior.

 Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer

Social Darwinism is a term first time utilized by the Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Hebert Spencer was an English Victorian philosopher and a pseudo-sociologist who thought that Darwin's theory of evolution can be equally applied on the society. Otherwise, the most successful and wealthiest people are product of social evolution. They evolved through the process of natural selection and stood at a top of the society using superior intelligence and experience.

Criminals are people who are stupid enough to get caught.

Social Darwinism is a fraudulent theoretical construct fully debunked by the historian Richard Hofstadter.
Psychological theories of crime causation.

Psychology and crime causation

Psychological theories were quite popular at the turn of 20th century. Most popular psychological theory of crime causation was psychoanalytical theory. Psychoanalytical theory of crime causation was based on the notion that hidden unconscious motives affect human behavior.

Social learning theory

The theory was developed by A. Bandura in 1973 Bandura believed that aggressive behavior is largely learned, but effects of biological factors shouldn't be excluded. Social learning can be direct or indirect. Direct social learning is the result of positive or negative effects on behavior i.e. result of rewards or punishments. When applying punishment, excessive use of aggression should be avoided. Corporal punishments are extreme form of negative behavior, because child can develop a negative association between the punishment and his parents. Indirect social learning is based on a perception of other people's behavior as desirable or non-desirable.

Crime is a result of social learning.

Theory of frustration aggressiveness

 Frustration is one of the possible causes of crime. Frustration is a psychological state of discomfort due to the inability to achieve certain goals or find solutions for problems. Inability to graduate is often a source of frustration among juvenile delinquents. This theory has emerged in 1939 as a result of the work of John Dollard and his colleagues from Yale University. According to the theory, frustration always leads to aggression and every aggression is the result of frustration. Later research led to the conclusion that moderate frustration does not necessarily lead to aggression. In 1974 Harris conducted the experiment and found when someone is closer to achieving its goal an obstacle to his imaginary target causes more frustration.
Berkowitz believed that frustration creates a will to aggressively respond with anger, and that does not always result with aggressive behavior. An odd that aggression will occur as a result of frustration depends on a large number of specific conditions and circumstances.

Not every frustration will result with aggression nor every aggression will match legal description of crime or be reported as a crime to authorities. Frustration can be cause of crime.

Psychoanalytical theory

Psychoanalysts believe that man is a cannibalistic wild creature in its beginning, which will form in a mature and responsible person trough a process of socialization. Psychoanalytical theory can be applied in the sense that the process of socialization has a significant role in the formation of our conscience. Psychoanalytic theory also holds that people are not always aware of motives of their behavior. Motives are sometimes hidden in "Id" (subconsciousness) and are often related with conflicts from our childhood.
Crime can be caused by a lack of ability to control "Id".

Psychological theories are relative, difficult and almost impossible to test.

Sociology and crime causation

Theory of social anomie

Basic concept of social anomie is an enormous gap between the desires of the individual and its real capabilities to satisfy those desires. When an individual is the one who gives, or who carries out its social obligations in accordance with his social role, and the social environment does not give any feedback on his conduct this will result in the alienation of the individual. To the individuals it will not be clear why he is doing socially useful activities, when he knows he could opt for another model of behavior that is apparently easier and does not require any effort (e.g. it is easier to steal than to work). The process of social interaction is based on reciprocity of care, attention and trust. Both sides give something in the interaction, but also receive from the whole process of social interaction.

Social anomie also happens when old rules or values are no longer relevant and new values or rules are in direct conflict with old rules and values.

Differential association theory was a theory developed by E. Sutherland. In short terms, crime is a result of social learning by engaging in deviant behaviors by those with whom we socially interact.

Critical, Marxist and social radical theories of crime

Biological theories of crime causation

Some genetic theorists believed that chromosome aberrations may be the cause of crime. These theories stated that people with XYY chromosome syndrome or the so-called "macho men" (who have an extra Y chromosome) are predisposed to commit crimes. Research conducted in the Scottish prison found 3% of inmates who have XYY chromosomal aberration. Otherwise, such persons are present in the general population, with a share of 0.2%. These claims are completely unjustified and meaningless if we take into account the low proportion of such persons in the general population.
Another study on crime held that hormones have an important impact on the existence of aggression. Based on research conducted on animals it was found that elevated  levels of hormone in women and men affect the emergence of aggressive behavior. These studies mainly dealt with the influence of testosterone on aggressive behavior, and found that higher levels of testosterone affect the occurrence of aggressive behavior. Elevated testosterone levels will affect the increase in aggressive behavior, while subtracting testosterone levels will act to reduce aggressive behavior.
The studies that have dealt with studying the brain tried to relate the aggressiveness and some brain areas, and sought to establish the existence of brain center's that regulate aggression. They concluded that the temporal lobe and some sub-cortical brain areas are responsible for the regulation of aggressive behavior.
Experiments conducted on animals showed that stimulation of specific areas can affect the development of aggressive behavior, but also to condition the animals to complete obedience. In 1969 Delgado conducted experiments on animals using a radio receiver implanted in the brain to control the aggressiveness of animals stimulating their limbic system, i.e. the hypothalamus. Delgado found that regardless of cortical stimulation, the animal will behave depending on environmental conditions. Although the chemical processes can artificially induce and encourage the aggressive behavior, it is not clear what affects the hormone to stimulate the hypothalamus to act differently.
According to biological theories, punishment will not affect deterring the individual from the crime, because the person (criminal) has some inherited remnant, stigmata etc. Biological theories of crime causation were the first theories where scientific methodology was used.

Which theory of crime causation is more correct?

Theories are just hypothesis waiting to be debunked. Theories are far from a reality. Every crime is the unique story. Theories may be partially correct, but in reality they are product of a human tendency to generalize, to add attributes, to categorize or to label someone’s behavior. Otherwise, it is an effort made to understand something that we do not understand as well as the tendency to find some general meaning that can be equally applied on the same or similar cases.
Theories are result of process how we are taught to think, understand or to make something simple.

Cesare Beccaria was an Italian classical criminologist. Beccaria was the most advanced thinker of his time. Beccaria was born in Milan, but studied in Parma (Tuscany/Italy). In 1764, he publicizes his essay "On crimes and punishments" showing his views how the medieval criminal justice system should reform itself.  Cesare Beccaria was an Italian nobleman and also a doctor of criminal law. Beccaria was influenced by the French encyclopedic movement and accepted Montesquieu's and J.J. Rousseau's teachings. Some of Beccaria's principles are even accepted today. Unfortunately, Cesare Beccaria's  principle of property threshold regarding the fines wasn't very welcomed. Cesare Beccaria was the first who thought about it that fines should be proportionally applied according to the property threshold of the perpetrator, i.e. SES (socio-economic status). Beccaria stated that main reason for proportionality was in social responsibility.

bill of rights
Being rich isn't rule, but an exception. The more people are rich. The higher are theirs social responsibilities. Wealthy people also enjoy higher social standing, so it is an imperative for the wealthy to provide industrial production capacity and infrastructure (non-service sector) that those with lesser social standing can earn their wages, and the wealthy can keep their profits.

Then again, financial and monetary sector is very different today, than it was back then. Even with best efforts to invest in production industry, it cannot be compared with high yield investment profits in bogus non promissory, but legal debt based payment instruments. Profits in the production sector are about 7%, while in money lending and investment businesses they are about 70% trough the system of the credit, currency issuance and fractional banking scheme.

Unfortunately, Beccaria didn't lived in a corporate world either or in the time when the banks of issue legally counterfeited money. Also Beccaria didn't lived in the world where the rich used charity funds for tax exemptions and gave  their pennies to the poor.

Principles that Beccaria found most important were:

1.  proportionality of fines compared to social economic status
2.  absolute rule of law (without extensive judicial sentencing practice or court casinos)
3.  laws are condition of freedoms
4.  just society is based upon fair sentences
5.  concept of indeterminism
6.  advocated against use of death penalty
7.  concept of the free will

Differences in theoretical approaches between classical  and positivist criminology are:

Classical criminology uses philosophy and logic to explain a crime. Classical criminology was influenced by philosophical thinking's of Rousseau, Voltaire, Feurebach, Kant, Hegel and Bacon. Crime is a logical syllogism or just a simple choice. Classicist focus on crime, but not on the perpetrator of crime.

Beccaria criticized against of use of torture and secret judicial proceedings. He also advocated for abolition of the death penalty, while Bentham worked on the systematic codification of criminal law.  Jeremy Bentham was an advocate against of the excessive severity used in punishments of perpetrators, which were prescribed in the criminal laws of his time. Some of Bentham's ideas were implemented into laws. Bentham teachings have laid the groundwork for substantial legal reforms, and were spread by Bentham’s followers.

Lombroso believed that the true criminal can be identified simply by observation of certain physical traits such as a long lower jaw, asymmetric cranium, and other. Positivist use available scientific methods of that time such as anthropometric measuring, phrenological measuring, intuitive thinking, retrospective interview about prison inmates or asylum inhabitants and many other methods. They focus its research on the criminal. Theory of a born criminal was created by Cesare Lombroso largely thanks to his anthropometric and phrenological researches, which brought him to false conclusions. Even today scientists in analyzing and constructing crime theory can make mistakes like Lombroso.

There are many myths, stories and legends that we know about. They may be the product of our imagination or be well crafted by our creative mind. Or maybe not? Demonology is a very old discipline which developed it self out of theology. Existence of demons (evil beings) only confirms a fact that God exists.

Demonology is unfortunately a borderline science. This essentially means that modern science will never accept any explanation that involves non-material or spiritual forms of evidence. Officially, any crime that involves demonic possessions may be qualified as an insanity. Psychiatrists are those who at a request of  the Court make a diagnosis and prognosis about a persons sanity or insanity. Modern science tends to rationally and materially explains connections of crime and demonic possessions. Main reasons are lawmaker requests for a legal form of evidence. Evidence can be statements of witnesses, victims or perpetrators. Those statements get theirs form of evidence in court records and usually are backed by consistencies with material and circumstantial evidence or facts as well as with high credibility of persons who gave those statements.

The relation between science and demonology is best described as a "hot ice." Ice can't be hot, and science can't accept spiritual explanations.

Many police officers and crime investigators may have encountered perpetrators who have claimed that they committed their crimes under some demonic influences. Perpetrators may claim, but none of them produced  any physical evidence. It is very odd to have two accepted scientific disciplines like theology and forensic sciences claiming the opposite.

Looking not very far into history we should take a better look at a Roman and  later perfected Spanish inquisition. Roman inquisition was established in 1232 by the Pope, and the main task of the inquisition was to rout out heresy. Some of the most advanced medieval thinkers have found out that they can use inquisition to acquire lands of their adversaries, friends or neighbors. Inquisition was very unfair in terms of judicial proceedings. People who were under suspicion had an obligation to produce evidence and here was a possibility to indefinitely leave them under suspicion. This means that besides of "guilty"or "not guilty"sentences, guilty"sentences there was a possibility to stop individual inquisition proceeding. A person wouldn't know when the inquisition would start again.

Criminology as a science looks out on these matters from a cultural and a legal perspective. The legal perspective includes forensic psychiatry and psychology, while the cultural perspective includes systems of values of some ethnic group or nation. For an example, there are still some ritual practices among  the tribes on the African continent that allow throwing of the first born male children to the pigs. Looking on it from our perspective, this is naturally a crime, but among those tribes this is a tradition. Systems of values are also different in organizations like Cosa Nostra, narcotic cartels or other criminal organizations. While some behaviors are desirable in that kind of organization, they are banned or marked red by a "normal society."

Criminology as a science was established at second half of 19th century. However, interest to research crime existed in earlier times of history. Until criminology became an autonomous science, crime was researched from the theological, metaphysical, legal (nomotechnical), sociological, psychological, anthropological, psychiatric (medical)or biological standpoint. Development of criminology theory starts with demonology around 5500 BC. According to some theorists, the first school of criminology was the demonological school of criminology.

"People commit crimes under demonic or evil influences."

Demonological explanation of crime was based on the mixture of common logic and religious beliefs. Similar attempts to explain human behavior were made by astrologists. Development of astrology starts around 3500 BC. The positions of heavenly bodies such as constellations and planets affect human behavior. In 13th century theology attempted to explain crime in similar fashion as demonology did before the theology. Introduction of the inquisition enabled clerics to be investigators, prosecutors and judges at a same time.

Witchcraft, Satanism & Occult Crime: Who's Who & What's What, a Manual of Reference Materials for the Professional Investigator