Crime and Criminals || Types of Crime and Criminals in criminology

Crime and Criminals || Types of Crime and Criminals

Crime and Criminals

Crime and Criminals are two parallel concepts in the society crime is always done where there is a criminal. At the end of the eighteenth century, by which time the Russian Empire had become home to the largest Jewish population in the world, perceptions had changed under the impact of Enlightenment ideas. Many Enlightenment thinkers held that Jews were superstitious and backward, hostile to Christians and willing to exploit them. They were money grubbing and alienated from the surrounding population. Enlightenment thinkers believed, however, that these negative features were a consequence of the hostile environment created by centuries of Christian persecution.

It was felt that a relaxation of restrictive legislation, combined with the influence of modern, progressive ideas, would result in the “civic betterment” of Jews and their transformation into good subjects. These were, in varying degrees, the guiding principles that directed policies of the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian states after the partitions of Poland. All three states sought to “improve” the Jews, but all assumed a high degree of Jewish criminality as a result of the Jewish people’s degraded state. All legislated against “Jewish” criminal pursuits.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, criminal statistics in Eastern Europe were impressionistic at best, but they did indicate some areas of criminal activity in which Jews were especially active. Jewish criminality, or more accurately, criminal activity by Jews, fell into two main categories: such activity as defined by the criminal code of the state, and violations by Jews of restrictive legislation directed only, or primarily, against them.

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Occasional criminal only performs the act if the opportunity occurs in his/her routine of daily life. 

For example someone is walking by a car & it happens to be unlocked & the person notices they might take their car stereo, etc. Those whose criminal acts were due to external circumstances and who was driven to commit crimes because of a special passion.

Most crime committed by amateurs whose acts are unskilled, and unplanned Occasional crime occurs when there is a situational inducement Frequency of occasional crime varies according to age, color, race, and gender Occasional criminals have little group support for the crimes

There is a class of occasional criminals, who do not exhibit, or who exhibit in slighter degrees, the anatomical, physiological, and psychological characteristics which constitute the type described by Lombroso as “the criminal man.”

There are occasional criminals who commit the offences characteristic of habitual criminality, such as homicides, robberies, rapes, etc., so there are born criminals who sometimes commit crimes out of their ordinary course.

Occasional criminals, who without any inborn and active tendency to crime lapse into crime at an early age through the temptation of their personal condition, and of their physical and social environment, and who do not lapse into it, or do not relapse, if these temptations disappear.

Thus they commit those crimes and offences which do not indicate natural criminality, or else crimes and offences against person or property, but under personal and social conditions altogether different from those in which they are committed by born and habitual criminals.

There is no doubt that, even with the occasional criminal, some of the causes which lead him into crime belong to the anthropological class; for external causes would not suffice without individual predispositions. For instance, during a scarcity or a hard winter, not all of those who experience privation have recourse to theft, but some prefer to endure want, however undeserved, without ceasing to be honest, whilst others are at the utmost driven to beg their food; and amongst those who yield to the suggestion of crime, some stop short at simple theft, whilst others go as far as robbery with violence. Of millions of property and theft related crimes are done by occasional criminals.

An occasional thief

Criminologists suspect that the great majority of economic crimes are the work of amateur criminals whose decision to steal is spontaneous and whose acts are unskilled, unplanned, and haphazard. Occasional property crime occurs when there is an opportunity or situational inducement to commit crime. Upper-class has the opportunity to engage in the more lucrative business- related crimes. The lower-class has opportunity to commit crime and short-run inducements. Occasional criminals will deny any connection to a criminal life-style and instead view their transgressions as being out of character. Whereas with the occasional criminal the moral sense is almost normal, but inability to realize beforehand the consequences of his act causes him to yield to external influences.


Individuals who regard the systematic violation of the law in the light of an ordinary trade, Include those convicted of theft, fraud, arson, forgery and blackmail.

  • Epileptic Criminal

Individual suffering from epilepsy, simply, for occasional criminals who commit slight offences, in circumstances which show that they are not of a dangerous type, I say, as I have said already, that reparation of the damage inflicted would suffice as a defensive measure, without a conditional sentence of imprisonment.

As to the occasional criminals who commit serious offences, for which reparation alone would not be sufficient, temporary removal from the scene of the crime should be added in the less serious cases, whilst in the cases of greater gravity, owing to material and personal considerations, there should be indefinite segregation in an agricultural colony, with lighter work and milder discipline than those prescribed in colonies for born criminals and recidivists.

The last category is that of criminals through an impulse of passion, not anti-social but susceptible of excuse, such as love, honor, and the like. For these individuals all punishment is clearly useless, at any rate as a psychological counteraction of crime, for the very conditions of the psychological convulsion which caused them to offend precludes any deterrent influence in a legal menace.

I therefore believe that in typical cases of criminals of passion; where there is no clear demand for mental treatment in a criminal lunatic asylum, imprisonment is of no use whatever. Strict reparation of damage will suffice to punish them, whilst they are punished already by genuine and sincere remorse immediately after the criminal explosion of their legitimate passion. Temporary removal from the scene of their crime and from the residence of the victim’s family might be superadded.

Nevertheless it must not be forgotten that I say this in connection with criminals in whom the passionate impulse is really exceptional, and who present the physiological and psychical features of the genuine criminal of passion.

I come to a different conclusion in the case of criminals who have merely been provoked, who do not completely present these features, who are actuated by a combination of social and excusable passion with an anti-social passion, such as hate, vengeance, anger, ambition, &c. Of such a kind are murderers carried away by anger just in itself, by blood-feuds, or desire to avenge the honor of their family, by vindication of personal honor, by grave suspicion of adultery; persons guilty of malicious wounding, disfigurement through erotic motives, and the like. These may be classed as occasional criminals, and treated accordingly.

Such, then, in general outline, is the positive system of social, preventive, and repressive defense against crimes and criminals, in accordance with the inferences from a scientific study of crime as a natural and social phenomenon.

It is a defensive system which, in the nature of things, must of necessity be substituted for the criminal and penitentiary systems of the classical school, so soon as the daily experience of every nation shall have established the conviction, which at this moment is more or less profound, but merely of a general character, that these systems are henceforth incompatible with the needs of society, not only by their crude pedantry, but also because their consequences are becoming daily more disastrous.


A professional criminal performs crimes as a frequent activity and for whom criminal activity is most likely their primary source of income. Depending on the crime this implies that either a) the criminal has not been caught which allows them to repeat crimes or b) they have been caught, sentenced and have continued performing crimes.

Either way both scenario's lead to an increase in experience with regard to criminal activities and often mean that criminals are more methodical and careful in committing these crimes as opposed to the one-off criminal. A professional pickpocket is harder to catch (or even notice) than an 'ordinary one'.

A professional assassin is far more methodical than an 'ordinary' murderer.

Characteristics of professional crime and criminals

Caldwell (1956: 57) has given the following characteristics of a professional criminal:

  • Crime is his main source of livelihood:

He devotes his full working time and energy to it and constantly attempts to improve his skills. He tries to specialize in one or two crimes. He normally obeys the law, except when it interferes with his crime.

  • Crime is his way of life: 

The professional criminal develops a philosophy of his own and organizes his life and activities around new values, attitudes, and beliefs.

  • He operates with proficiency and carefully plans his activities: 

He takes calculated risks and dislikes those who bungle and fail. He differs from the habitual criminal in the sense that the latter commits crime regularly but without specialized skills.

  • He is a product of a process of development: 

He acquires his specialized knowledge, attitudes, and skills gradually. Usually, he acquires skills under instruction from and guidance of somebody who has already achieved proficiency and status in his criminal specialty. However, no formal process of recruitment and training is involved in the development.

Some professional criminals begin their careers as Juvenile delinquents, some as adolescent criminals, some as youth criminals and some take the first step only after achieving adulthood and move from legitimate means of earning their livelihood to a life of criminality.

  • He identifies himself with the world of crime and criminals

His friends, security, affection, recognition, sympathy, and respect, etc. all come from the underworld. This does not mean that he totally cuts himself apart and becomes isolated from the conventional world. He continues to have friends and acquaintances in the law-abiding world also.


Ongoing conspiratorial enterprise engaged in illicit activities as a means of generating income (as black money). Structured like a business into a pyramid shaped hierarchy, it freely employs violence and bribery to maintain its operations, threats of grievous retribution (including murder) to maintain internal and external control, and thuggery and contribution to election campaigns to buy political patronage for immunity from exposure and prosecution. Its activities include credit card fraud, gun running, illegal gambling, insurance fraud, kidnapping for ransom, narcotics trade, pornography, prostitution, racketeering, smuggling, vehicle theft, etc.

With the arrival of international terrorism (with which it often has symbiotic relationship) and internet, organized crime now covers practically every nation and segment of society, and uses extremely sophisticated methods and credible front-organizations (such as charities and high-tech firms) in movement of large amounts of money and weaponry. Called by names such as cartel, mafia, syndicate, and triad, these establishments do not tolerate competition and constantly fight for monopolization in their specialty (such as drug trade) or geographical region.

They are distinguished from the common (unorganized) crimes by characteristics such as

  1. Non-random nature of criminal behavior
  2. Coordinated activities of hundreds or thousands of operatives
  3. Diversification of activity (production, supply, retail)
  4. Regional, national, or transnational scale of operations
  5. Large volume of turnover (running into billions of dollars in some cases)
  6. Pursuit of both profit and power
  7. An identifiable leadership.

1975 UN definition of organized Crime

A 1975 UN definition of organized crime reads, "... large scale and complex criminal activity carried on by groups of persons, however loosely or tightly organized, for the enrichment of those participating and at the expense of the community and its members.

It is frequently accomplished through ruthless disregard of any law, including offences against the person, and frequently in connection with political corruption." Paul Nesbitt (head of Interpol's Organized Crime Group) defined it in 1993 as, "Any group having a corporate structure whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities, often surviving on fear and corruption."

Important Questions

  • What is crime? Discuss its relationship with crimes.
  • Differentiate Between habitual offenders and white collar criminals.

Write note on one of the following.

  • Organized criminal  
  • Professional Criminals

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