A crime is behavior that is punishable as a public offense. The elements of a crime generally come from statutes, but may also be supplied by the common law in states where the criminal common law still carries force.
Crime is behavior, either by act or omission, defined by statutory or common law as deserving of punishment or penalty. Although most crimes require the element of intent, certain minor crimes may be committed based on strict liability even if the defendant had no specific mindset with regard to the criminal action. For instance, parking violations are crimes that usually do not require prosecutors to establish intent.
Some crimes are considered mala prohibita (bad because prohibited); these are prohibited by statute but are not inherently evil. Other crimes are considered mala in se (bad in themselves); these are considered inherently evil under general community standards. The idea of mala in se formed the original justification for common law crimes. However, many crimes that are today prohibited by statute also belong to the category of mala in se.
Crimes are prosecuted by government attorneys. Such attorneys may represent a city, county, state, or the federal government. Examples include the Attorney General of the United States, the attorney general of a state, federal district attorneys, and city attorneys.
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]