Victimless crime

A victimless crime is an illegal act that typically either directly involves only the perpetrator or occurs between consenting adults; because it is consensual in nature, there is arguably no true victim. Examples of these types of crimes include possession of illegal contraband and atypical sexual behavior.

In most countries, current victimless crimes include recreational drug use, while some also include prostitution. However, there is controversy surrounding this. Edwin Schur and Hugo Bedau state in their book Victimless Crimes: Two Sides of a Controversy that "some of these laws produce secondary crime, and all create new 'criminals,' many of whom are otherwise law-abiding citizens and people in authority."

In politics, a lobbyist or an activist might use this phrase with the implication that the law in question should be abolished.

Victimless crimes are, in the harm principle of John Stuart Mill, "victimless" from a position that considers the individual as the sole sovereign, to the exclusion of more abstract bodies such as a community or a state against which criminal offenses may be directed.

Three characteristics can be used to identify whether a crime is victimless crime – if the act is excessive, is indicative of a distinct pattern of behavior, and its adverse effects impact only the person who has engaged in it – according to the University of Chicago's vice scholar, Jim Leitzel.

In theory, each polity determines for itself the laws it wants to have, so as to maximize the happiness of its citizens. As knowledge progresses and behavior changes, and values change as well, laws in most countries lag badly behind social changes. Once it is obvious to a vast majority that the law is unnecessary at best, the law, until it is repealed, will be prohibiting a victimless crime.

This page was last edited on 13 June 2018, at 21:05 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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