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What is the difference between an offence and a crime?
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What is the difference between an offence and a crime?

We have various law in the England and Wales. They are split into two main groups, civil law and criminal law. Offences against civil law include things like planning law, matrimonial law, contract law, minor public nuisance offences such as not cleaning up dog mess, employment law etc. Offences against criminal law are generally the offences that the Police investigate such as theft, burglary, robbery, rape, murder etc. So an offence could be either; 1) A breach of civil law e.g. putting up a house without planning permission or 2) A breach of criminal law such as murder. However a crime can only be; 1) A breach of criminal law. So the short answer is that an offence includes offences against civil law or criminal law where as a crime only includes offences against criminal law.

An offense is an infraction of the law and is listed as: 1. a petty disorderly person offense or 2. a disorderly persons offense They carry a maximum of 3 months in jail for a petty disorderly offense and a maximum jail term of 6 months for a disorderly offense. Violation of these rarely result in any jail time and usually a minimal fine is paid. Examples are public intoxication, simple assault. A Crime is a violation of the law and are listed in 4 degrees 1st degree......Jail time of 20+ yrs 2nd degree .......Jail time of 5-10 yrs 3rd degree.........Jail time of 3-5 yrs 4th degree..........Jail time of 6 months-3 yrs Murder carries a mandatory minimum of 30 yrs 3rd and 4th degree crimes usually end up with the offender doing some jail time, 1st and 2nd degree crimes are mandatory jail time

Essex Ron
I am a little worried about Carswood's assertion that littering is an offence against civil law. I think he will find if he ever goes to a Magistrates' Court that people appear there for littering in exactly the same way as they do (initially) for murder. Civil courts try cases under the jurisdiction of the Queen's Bench Division, the Family Division and the Chancery Division. Generally speaking, there are no offences that are tried in civil courts. They decide on actions taken for damages. Thus, all non-Civil cases are tried in the criminal courts - cases going from murder and rape down to parking and not having a TV licence. ALL matters tried in the criminal courts are crimes in that they are breaches of the criminal law. In common parlance it is generally the case that they are divided into serious and non-serious breaches of the law and the non-serious ones are generally referred to as offences. The fact of the matter, however, is that ALL breaches of the criminal law are both offences AND crimes. And, to finish, two very old police jokes. Q What is the difference between unlawful and illegal? A Unlawful is against the law and illegal is a sick bird. Q What is the difference between a police record and a criminal record? A A police record is anything made by Sting and his mates and a criminal record is anything by the Pet Shop Boys. (Just out of interest Carswood, can you edit your answer to indicate what police force you work for?)

most suitable substitute.
To eat meat is an "offence." To kill the animal is a "crime."

A civil offense is an infraction of a law that is not a crime. This may be something like a routine traffic offense such as speeding. The only penalty for a civil offense is a fine. A crime is a violation of the law that is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence.

The silent pen
A fence is something in the garden and a crime is putting up a bad one.

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