lesser included offense

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A lesser included offense in the field of criminal law is a less serious crime that is necessarily committed during the perpetration of a greater crime because the lesser crime contains some of the same elements of the greater crime. The greater crime cannot be proven unless all of the elements of the lesser crime are proven. For example, trespassing is a lesser included offense of the crime of burglary. See, e.g. Carter v. United States, 530 U.S. 255 (2000).

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]