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    The occasional criminals - Criminology

    The occasional criminals

    The 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 were 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, cl**** 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

    An individual’s decision to steal is spontaneous, un-planned.
    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.

    The forms of occasional criminality, which are determined by these ordinary temptations, are also determined by age, sex, poverty, worldly influences, and influences of moral environment, alcoholism, personal surroundings, and imitation. Tarde has ably demonstrated the persistent influence of these conditions on the actions of men.

    For thefts, again, whilst occasional simple thefts are largely the effect of social and economical conditions. For slight offences by occasional criminals, strict indemnification will, on the one hand, avoid the disadvantages of short terms of imprisonment, and will, on the other hand, be much more efficacious and sensible than an assured provision of food and shelter, for a few days or weeks, in the State prisons.

    Occasional criminals or criminaloids, whose crimes are explained primarily by opportunity, although they too have innate traits that predispose them to criminality.

    Lombroso referenced the insane criminal, the criminaloid, and the habitual criminal all as “occasional criminals”. His classification of the insane criminal (idiots, imbeciles, paranoiacs, epileptics, alcoholics, etc.) came by way of his assertion that this type of criminal was a result of brain deficiency. Lombroso differentiated the atavistic or born criminal from the insane criminal through his proposition that the insane criminal, was not born criminal. Instead, due to the deficiency/alteration of the brain (which disturbs their moral nature and subsequently inhibits their ability to discern between right and wrong) the insane criminal becomes criminal at any point in their life (Lombroso-Ferrero, 1911, p. 74).

    Of the criminaloid, the largest group of occasional criminals, Lombroso hypothesized that they were only slightly less predisposed to criminality. He asserted that the opportunity to commit crime and environmental factors was the most important element in their etiology and that although they had innate traits and a touch of degeneracy, their organic tendency was much less than that of the born criminal.

    The habitual criminal is the third group of occasional criminals. Here Lombroso asserts that “the habitual criminal was born without serious anomalies or tendencies in his constitution that would predispose him to crime” (Mannheim, 1972, p. 253). Therefore, the habitual criminal came closest to a “normal” criminal. “Poor education and training from parents, the school and community at an early age cause these individuals to fall into the primitive tendency towards evil” (Mannheim, 1972, p. 253). The associations of criminals, such as members of organized crime, play a role in drawing habitual criminals into crime. Lombroso makes the claim that the habitual criminal’s upbringing and associations drove them into criminal activity.

    The broadest and most inclusive category of occasional criminals include four types.

    The Pseudocriminal

    Individuals who become criminals by mere accident e.g. killing in self-defense. These criminals are also called Judicial Criminals.


    These are epileptoids who suffer from a milder form of the disease so that without adequate cause criminality is not manifested. These are individuals with weak natures who can be swayed by circumstances to commit crime. Often showing hesitation before committing crime.

    Habitual Criminals

    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.

    Epileptoid Criminal

    Individual suffering from epilepsy.
    In short, 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.

    BZU Notes

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Nice sharing... I want to opt criminology instead of Int. Law. Should I??? Please guide me..

  3. #3
    There is a great uncertainty not only about criminology but also about others newly added subjects. Apart from that, I think preferring Criminology in Group 6 is a good decision. Int Law can be it's alternate in this group. Other subjects like Muslim Law and Jurisprudence and Mercantile Law etc don't seem to appealing. Muslim Law is bit easy, however, it is it's Jurisprudence section that cause real trouble. Therefore, I think, it's safe to go either for criminology or for international law.



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