Crime Legal Definition: An act or omission which is prohibited by criminal law and punished, usually by fine or imprisonment. Related Terms: Criminal Law , Offense , Misdemeanor , Alibi , Actus Reus Each state sets out a limited series of acts (crimes) which are prohibited and punishes the commission of these acts by a fine, imprisonment or some other form of punishment, through a body of law called criminal law. The 1911 description of Odgers remains true: "A crime is a wrongful act of such a kind that the State deems it necessary, in the interests of the public, to repress it; for its repetition would be harmful to the community as a whole." In exceptional cases, an omission to act can constitute a crime, such as failing to give assistance to a person in peril or failing to report a case of child abuse. Many jurists prefer the term "offense" or "offence" when referring to conduct that attracts sanction by the state in which the offence occurred. A tort is another form of wrongful act. REFERENCES: Odgers, W. B., The Common Law of England (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1911), page 101. Categories & Topics: Duhaime's Criminal Law Dictionary Unless otherwise noted, this page was written by Lloyd Duhaime of Duhaime.org Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only) If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!