Crime And Criminal Behavior

Criminal behavior is legally prohibited action or inaction that results in injury to person or property. Crimes need not be intentional; they may be the result of oversight or negligence. Intentional or willful criminal acts (mens rea) are usually considered more serious and typically lead to greater penalties than unintended acts. For example, first-degree murder, in which the act is the result of a premeditated intention by the murderer to kill, is considered a more serious offense than second-degree murder, in which the act is precipitated by malice but not premeditated. The law also views violent crimes more severely than property crimes, and felonies more severely than misde-

There wasn't much crime in the South Florida town where I grew up, at least not much that I was aware of. People were arrested, ofcourse, but mostly for being public nuisances, speeding over 25 mph, driving recklessly, or being drunk and disorderly. Like most towns our size, we had some petty theft, and merchants and customers tried to cheat each other on occasion. A few newspaper carriers admitted to collecting twice in the same week and making incorrect change. Boys also walked out of stores without paying or stole fruit from a neighbor's orchard, but when caught they were usually only lectured and then told to go and sin no more. On Halloween, the more reckless boys strung tin cans across the road to "catch" cars, threw "stink bombs" at girls, and soap-wrote on store windows.

Occasionally, a night burglar would break into a garage, a barn, or a store, but typically took little because there wasn't much to take. One thief with a conscience even left a note apologizing for his activities on the grounds of his inability to make an honest living.

Another man reported that someone had broken into his home at night when he wasn't there, jumped into bed, and had sex with his wife. The wife confessed that she thought the intruder was her husband until the latter came home and chased the former away. In a related case, a large gopher snake crawled through a hole in the floor and got into bed with a woman. She reached over and touched it but wasn't too surprised by the sensation because she considered her husband to be a "snake" anyway.

There was some vagrancy in our town,but we had a place for everyone and everyone knew his or her place.

meanors. Felonies, such as burglary or murder, are commonly punished in the United States by imprisonment for more than 1 year, whereas punishment for misdemeanors consists of fines, community service, short jail terms, and the like.

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