Outlaw Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Outlaw?

a person who has commited a crime and is disallowed to enjoy legal benefits and rights.

History and Meaning of Outlaw

The term "Outlaw" has been used for centuries to refer to individuals who have been declared "out of the law" or deprived of legal protection due to criminal behavior. In medieval England, outlaws were individuals who had been formally declared as such by the crown, and were often hunted down by local authorities with the goal of either apprehending or killing them. The term has also been used more broadly to refer to individuals who are beyond the reach of the law, either due to their own actions or because they have fled to another jurisdiction.

Examples of Outlaw

  1. Billy the Kid was an infamous outlaw in the American Old West, known for his involvement in numerous gunfights and killings. He was eventually hunted down by law enforcement and killed at the age of 21.
  2. The members of the notorious criminal gang, Bonnie and Clyde, were also considered outlaws due to their criminal behavior, which included robbery and murder. They were eventually killed in a shootout with police officers.
  3. In the movie "The Fugitive," Harrison Ford's character is a doctor who is falsely accused of murdering his wife and becomes an outlaw when he escapes from prison to prove his innocence.

Legal Terms Similar to Outlaw

  1. Exile - the act of banishing someone from their home country as punishment for a crime
  2. Pariah - an individual who is ostracized or rejected from society due to their actions or beliefs
  3. Felon - someone who has been convicted of a felony and thus deprived of certain civil rights and privileges.