What is a criminal? I feel I must first begin by elaborating on the fact that the word criminal is a description used to describe a wide range of people. It is not the person as a whole. There are probably as many explanations of the word criminal as there are criminals themselves. However, the most basic definition of word criminal according to many dictionary definitions is someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime. Thus bringing up the point that the word “criminal” is actually derived from the word “crime”. Therefore, in order to truly understand what a criminal is, we must first understand what crime means.
Crime is the act of disobeying the laws that govern one’s society, country, etc. These laws are created in order to maintain social order with the intention of upholding the safety and well-being, both physically and emotionally, of its citizens. Laws also help to maintain a sense of equality among its citizens, and in the United States, this is done in a non-socialist manner. Chaos is created when the laws that govern a society are broken. Although, there are times laws seem a bit far-fetched to say the least, they are created with the best of intentions.
Crime includes domestic violence, murder, abuse, sexual battery and assault etc. However, not all crimes are violent crimes. Money laundering, stealing, breaking and entering, drug trafficking are a few that are not considered violent crimes, but one should keep in mind that any crime can become violent. Those that commit any of these crimes are then deemed a criminal in society, because they participated in someway to activities that are injurious to the general population of the state.
Criminals are often described as lawbreakers, offenders, con artists, etc. However, they all mean the same thing, which is criminal. Yes, all criminals have broken the law. No, not all criminals are violent and rehabilitation is possible in some circumstances although there are some cases in which either the person is unwilling to change or unable to change.
According to United States law, a person is only a criminal if he or she is convicted of a crime. A group of the person’s peers determines this, in most circumstances. However, if the person were not convicted of the crime he or she is being accused of the word criminal would not apply. This being said, we must also keep in mind that once a person has served his or her sentence for the crime they commited they are no longer considered a criminal. Unfortunately, since the word criminal is a mere description of person due to the acts they have commited, people use the word carelessly. The word criminal should only be used when describing someone if the above circumstances are met according to United States law. A person should not be deemed a criminal by society due to opinion, only by facts.