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[Middle French, from Latin crimen fault, accusation, crime]
1 : conduct that is prohibited and has a specific punishment (as incarceration or fine) prescribed by public law compare delict, tort
2 : an offense against public law usually excluding a petty violation see also felony, misdemeanor NOTE: Crimes in the common-law tradition were originally defined primarily by judicial decision. For the most part, common-law crimes are now codified. There is a general principle “nullum crimen sine lege,” that there can be no crime without a law. A crime generally consists of both conduct, known as the actus reus, and a concurrent state of mind, known as the mens rea.
3 : criminal activity
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.