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Crime and Punishment

A crime is a serious offence such as murder or robbery. A punishment is a penalty imposed on somebody who is convicted of a crime. A punishment could be, for example, time in prison or a fine.

There is an important difference between criminal law and civil law. Criminal law deals with matters such as murder. Civil law deals with matters such as contracts or divorce. The police are not normally involved in civil law.

Questions from law breakers or suspected criminals

  • Why did you pull me over?
  • Have I done something wrong?
  • Is this illegal?
  • What are my rights?
  • Can I call a lawyer?
  • Where are you taking me?
  • Can I make a phone call?

Questions police may ask a suspected criminal

  • Are you carrying any illegal drugs?
  • Do you have a weapon?
  • Does this belong to you?
  • Whose car is this?
  • Where were you at eight last night?

Informing someone of laws and police procedures

  • You are under arrest.
  • Put your hands on your head.
  • I am taking you to the police station.
  • Please get in the police car.
  • You will have to pay a fine for this.
  • I will give you a warning this time.
  • I'm going to write you a ticket.
  • We'll tow your car to the station.
  • Smoking in restaurants is illegal in this country.
  • It is against the law to do drugs in public.

Types of crime

CrimeDefinition
abduction/kidnappingtaking a person to a secret location using force
armed robberyusing a weapon to steal
arsonsetting fire to a place on purpose
assaulthurting another person physically
attempted murdertrying to kill someone (but failing)
burglary,
breaking and entering
going into another person's home or business with force
child abuseinjuring a child on purpose
domestic violencephysical assault that occur within the home
drug traffickingtrading illegal drugs
drunk drivingdriving after having too much alcohol
fraudlying or cheating for business or monetary purposes
hijackingholding people in transit hostage (usually on a plane)
murder/homicidetaking someone's life through violence
shopliftingstealing merchandise from a store
smugglingbringing products into a country secretly and illegally
speedingdriving beyond the speed limit
terrorismacts of crime against a group (political/religious) or another country
theftstealing
tortureextremely cruel and unfair treatment (often towards prisoners)
vandalismdamaging public or private property (for example with spray paint)
white collar crimebreaking the law in business

Types of punishment

Punishment
(example offence)
Definition
traffic ticket
(speeding, parking)
leaves marks on driving record/involves paying a fine
license suspension
(drunk driving)
driving rights are removed for a certain period of time
fine
(hunting out of season)
pay money as punishment for minor/petty crime
house arrest
(a young offender who is waiting to go to court)
remain in one's home for a certain period of time
community service
(a youth that steals a car for the first time)
do volunteer work such as teaching children about crime or cleaning up garbage
jail time
(man who assaults his wife)
spend a certain amount of months or years locked away from society
life in prison
(a woman who commits homicide)
spend the rest of one's life in prison with no chance of going back into society

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