criminal law


The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law (codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68) targeting organized criminal activity and racketeering. RICO enhances existing criminal punishments and creates new causes of...

right to jury trial


The right to a jury trial refers to the right provided by the Sixth and Seventh Amendments. The Sixth Amendment states that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused criminal has the right to a trial by an impartial jury of the...


A riot is a public disturbance where three or more people behave in a violent and uncontrolled manner. A riot usually has the following characteristics:

made in furtherance of an express common purpose; through the use or threat of...

roadside test

See field sobriety test.

[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]


Robbery, a crime that originated at common law, is an act of unlawfully taking the property of another by violent force or the threat of such force, with the intent to deprive them of it permanently.

Because robbery...


A rout is a crime that is the stage before a riot, but after an unlawful assembly. According to Follis et al. v. the State, unlawful assemblies, routs and riots are all "allied disturbances of the public peace." A rout is described as three...

rule of lenity

The rule of lenity is a principle used in criminal law, also called rule of strict construction, stating that when a law is unclear or ambiguous, the court should apply it in the way that is most favorable to the defendant, or to construe the...


Intent or knowledge of wrongdoing. When a person has knowledge of the wrongness of an act or event prior to committing it.

second degree murder

There are no degrees of murder at common law. It is a modern statutory rule which divides murder into degrees according to its mens rea, but the exact definition of second-degree murder varies by jurisdiction.

Both first-...

securities fraud

Securities fraud is the misrepresentation or omission of information to induce investors into trading securities.


While always actionable under common law fraud, Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission (...