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Chapter 1
and the Criminal Law
What is Criminology?
 Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, extent,
cause, and control of criminal behavior.
 Criminology is an interdisciplinary science:
Criminal justice
Political science
Natural science
What is Criminology?
 Criminology and Criminal Justice
 Criminology explains the origin, extent, and nature of
crime in society
 Criminal justice refers to agencies of social control
 Both discipline areas overlap
What is Criminology?
 Criminology and Deviance
 Deviant behavior departs from social norms
 Not all crimes are deviant and not all deviant acts are
 Criminologists study both criminology and deviance to
understand the nature and purpose of law (I.E. drug
A Brief History of Criminology
 Classical Criminology 18th century
 Utilitarianism emphasized behavior is considered purposeful
and useful by the actor
 Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) believed people have free will to
choose criminal or lawful solutions to meet their needs
 Choice is controlled by fear of punishment
 Punishment should be severe, swift, and certain to control
A Brief History of Criminology
 Nineteenth-Century Positivism
 Application of scientific methods to study crime
 Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
 Two main elements: 1) human behavior is a function of forces beyond a
person’s control and 2) embracing the scientific method to solve
 Charles Darwin (1809-1882) popularized the positivist tradition
 Influences of physiognomy and phrenology
 Biological determinism - Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) atavistic
 Social positivism developed to study the major social changes
A Brief History of Criminology
 Foundations of Sociological Criminology
 L.A.J. Quetelet – cartography (demographic variables)
 Emile Durkheim – anomie ( role confusion)
 Crime calls attention to the social ills
 Rising crime rates can signal the need for social change
A Brief History of Criminology
 The Chicago School and Beyond
 Robert Ezra Park (1864-1944), Ernest W. Burgess (1886-1966),
Louis Wirth (1897-1952)
 The Chicago School - social ecology (reaction to an
environment that was inadequate for proper human relations
and development)
 Edwin Sutherland suggested people learn criminality
 Walter Reckless linked crime to an inadequate self-image.
 Both views linked criminality to the failure of socialization
A Brief History of Criminology
 Conflict Criminology
 Karl Marx (1818-1883)
 Relationship between bourgeoisie (capitalists) and
proletariat (labor) developing class conflicts
 Development of conflict theory (the linkage between
crime and capitalism)
 Impact on civil rights/women’s movements
A Brief History of Criminology
 Contemporary Criminology
 Rational choice theory argues people are rational
decision makers
 Social structure theory argues social environment
controls criminal behavior
 Social process theory argues criminal behavior is learned
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Criminal Statistics
 Measuring the amount and trends of criminal activity
 Creating valid and reliable measurements of criminal
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Sociology of Law
 Subarea of criminology concerned with the role of social
forces in shaping criminal law (i.e. legality of art works)
 Criminologists help lawmakers alter the content of
criminal law to respond to the changing times (i.e. sex
offender registration)
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Developing theories of Crime Causation
 Psychological view contends crime is a function of
personality, learning, or cognition
 Biological view incorporates biochemical, genetic, and
neurological linkages to crime
 Sociological view includes social forces such as poverty,
socialization, and group interaction
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 The Nature of Theory and Theory Development
 Social theory is a systematic set of interrelated
statements that explain some aspect of social life
 Some theory may be grand, while others are narrow in
their focus
 Theory is based on social facts, which can be readily
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Criminal Behavior Systems
 Involves crime types and patterns (i.e. violent, public
order, and organized crime)
 Edwin Sutherland’s “white-collar” crime
 Crime typologies involve different types of crime and
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Penology
 Correction and control of known criminal offenders
 Capital punishment is used as social control
 Mandatory sentences are aimed at social control and
prevention of criminal acts.
What Criminologists Do: The
Criminological Enterprise
 Victimology
 Examines the critical role of the victim in the criminal
process (Hans von Hentig andStephen Schafer)
 Use of victim surveys to measure the nature and extent
of criminal behavior
 Creating probabilities of victimization risk
 Victim culpability or precipitation of crime
 Designing services and programs
How Criminologists View Crime
 The Consensus View of Crime
 Substantive criminal law defines crime and punishment
 Criminal law is a function of beliefs, morality and rules
 Laws apply equally to all members of society
 Acts which are considered as social harms should be
outlawed to protect the social fabric and members of
How Criminologists View Crime
 The Conflict view of Crime
 Criminal law reflects and protects established
economic, racial, gendered, and political power and
 Definition of crime is controlled by wealth, power, and
social position
 Crime is shaped by the values of the ruling class and not
the moral consensus of all people
How Criminologists View Crime
 The Interactionist View of Crime
 This position holds
a) People act according to their own interpretations of reality,
b) People observe they way others react either positively or
c) People reevaluate and interpret their own behavior according to
the meaning and symbols they have learned from others
 There is not objective reality, according to interactionists
 The definition of crime reflects the preferences and opinions of
people who hold social power
 Crime is socially defined by moral entrepreneurs
How Criminologists View Crime
 Defining Crime
 Crime is a violation of societal rules of behavior as
interpreted and expressed by the criminal law, which
reflects public opinion, traditional values, and the
viewpoint of people currently holding social and
political power
 The definition combines all three criminological
perspectives (consensus, conflict, and interactionist)
Crime and the Criminal Law
 Code of Hammurabi (eye for an eye)
 Mosaic Code (basis for U.S. legal system)
 Compurgation (use of oathhelpers)
 Trials by ordeal (divine intervention)
Crime and the Criminal Law
 Common Law
 English system of law based on precedent cases
 Mala in se- refers to crime considered as evil
 Mala prohibita -refers statutory crimes
 Legislatures supplement common law with statutes
Crime and the Criminal Law
 Contemporary Criminal Law
 Felony offenses are serious criminal actions
 Misdemeanor offenses are minor or petty criminal
 Criminal law seeks to: Enforce social control, Discourage
revenge, Express public opinion and morality, Deter
criminal behavior, Punish wrongdoing, and Maintain
social order
Crime and the Criminal Law
 The Elements of a Crime
 Actus Reus is the action of a crime
 Mens Rea is the mental intent of a criminal action
 Strict Liability does not necessarily require specific
Crime and the Criminal Law
 Criminal Defenses
 Excuse defenses – insanity, intoxication, and ignorance
 Justification defenses – necessity, duress, self-defense,
and entrapment
Crime and the Criminal Law
 The Evolution of Criminal Law
 Criminal law evolves to reflect social and economic
conditions, such as stalking statutes or sexual predator
laws (Megan’s Law)
 Changing technology requires modifications in criminal
Ethical Issues in Criminology
 What to study (influence of research money)
 Whom to study (unmasking the poor)
 How to study (experiments and harm)