Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Omne Majus Continet In Se Minus Definition:

Latin: The greater contains the less.

A useful maxim in criminal law to assert that a greater charge includes any lesser offenses; such as homicide including manslaughter.

This maxim was a favourite of Herbert Broom who suggested, in his 1845 book, A Selection of Legal Maxims, Classified and Illustrated, that it was one of fundamental logic in law. He translated it as:

"Omne majus continet in se minus ... the greater contains the less."

Omne majus continet in se minus © ABurgessAs Justice Kapp of the Superior Court of New Jersey wrote in State of New Jersey v Andrew Magai:

"It is fundamental that a party indicted for a crime may be convicted of any offense of a lower grade, provided such lower offense is included within the description of the indictment.

"This rule of court, R.R. 3:7-9(c) (of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated), is declaratory of the maxim, omne majus continet in se minus ... the greater contains the less."

Another application of the maxim occurred in People of the State of New York v Psaty & Fuhrman where Justice William Ringel of the Criminal Court of the City of New York wrote:

"The People contend that the power to revoke includes the lesser power to suspend the permit (omne majus continet in se minus). Many cases are cited in support of this position."


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