Offense – synonymous with “crime”

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1. A violation of the law; a crime, often a minor one. — aka criminal offense. [1]

1. A crime.  A felony, misdemeanor, or other infraction subject to prosecution. Osborne v Ossley (Mo) 264 SW2d, 332, 38 ALR2d 1128. [2]

1. A crime. Although “offense,” as the term is generally used, means a felony or a misdemeanor, it may also include infractions and petty offenses as well as regulatory crimes. [3]

     Excerpt from 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law § 3, at 4 (1989):

     “The terms ‘crime,’ ‘offense,’ and ‘criminal offense’ are all said to be synonymous, and ordinarily used interchangeably.  ‘Offense’ may comprehend every crime and misdemeanor, or may be used in a specific sense as synonymous with ‘felony’ or with ‘misdemeanor,’ as the case may be, or as signifying a crime of lesser grade, or an act not indictable, but punishable summarily or by the forfeiture of a penalty. [4]

Various Types of Offenses:

bailable offense – a criminal charge for which a defendant may be released from custody after providing proper security.

indictable offense – a crime that can be prosecuted by indictment, usually only felonies or serious misdemeanors.

substantive offense – a crime that is complete in itself and not dependent on another crime for one of its elements.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law § 3, at 4 (1989).


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