Criminal is a word that you’ve likely heard frequently throughout your lifetime. The word is frequently used in newscasts, is voiced on the radio and in conversation, and is printed in newspapers and seen on the Internet, however what does it really mean?
Looking in a dictionary, you’ll see that the word criminal can be used as both a noun and an adjective. However, the most common and familiar definition for criminal is in its noun form, a person guilty or convicted of a crime. Breaking the definition down further, a crime refers to an action or an instance of negligence that is thought to be detrimental to the general public as a whole and is for that reason legally prohibited. So, when you put it together, and put it into simpler terms, a criminal is a person of any age who is guilty of doing something that is illegal, or against the law.
Laws are written to protect the citizens of a community, state, country, or other legal jurisdiction and keep them safe. Although the majority of people recognize, respect, obey the laws and rules of society, there are others who do not feel the need to abide laws or feel that they will gain personally or professionally by deliberately breaking laws. When one breaks a law, one is committing a crime, which makes them a criminal.
When one commits a crime, he or she is making a choice, a choice that may seem to produce immediate or positive results for the criminal, but that will produce serious consequences when the individual is caught and made to face up to his or her actions. Most all criminals are caught eventually, especially when they repeat wrongful acts or commit progressively more malicious crimes over time as they avoid punishment the first time or the first few times and try and get by with more severe crimes later on.
So, how does one move from being a law-abiding citizen to a criminal? One becomes a criminal the second they are guilty of taking an action that breaks a law, no matter how minor they see their action, and no matter why they committed the crime they did. If the action goes against a law, any law, it is a criminal action. There is no justification for committing a crime of any nature as breaking a law, even if the law seems unimportant or minor, puts society in danger in one way or another. While some crimes are more severe than other, such as shoplifting a package of batteries vs. murder, crimes are crimes, and those who commit crimes are criminals.