Criminal Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Criminal, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Criminal?

A person who has committed a crime in which there has been social harm and peace destroyed and which may be punishable by law. It also refers to persons who has been involved in the crime also.

History and Meaning of Criminal

The term "criminal" dates back to the 15th century and comes from the Latin word "criminālis," which means "pertaining to crime." A criminal is any person who has been found guilty of committing a crime. Criminals pose a threat to society as they have violated the law and have caused harm and loss to individuals or the community as a whole. The motive behind the crime can vary from personal gain, revenge, or simply due to mental illness.

Examples of Criminal

  • A person who steals property from another person
  • A person who causes physical harm to someone during a fight
  • A person who participates in drug trafficking
  • A person who commits murder in cold blood
  • A person who drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a fatal accident

Legal Terms Similar to Criminal

  • Offender: A person who has committed an offense, which is a broader term that also encompasses violations and misdemeanors.
  • Convict: A person who has been found guilty of a crime and has been sentenced by a court.
  • Felon: A person who has been convicted of a felony, which is a serious crime punishable by imprisonment for over a year or even death.
  • Perpetrator: A person who commits a harmful or criminal act, such as sexual assault or theft.