31/10/17 Difference between Crime and Offence

Agencia de traducción Buenos Aires

Crime vs Offence

This title, difference between crime and offence, may appear wrong or at least paradoxical to some of the readers. This is because of the fact that most people believe crime and offence to have the same meaning to be used interchangeably. Of course, there are great similarities between the two concepts, but despite the overlapping there are subtle differences that will be highlighted in this article.


Every society has a system of written rules and regulations to deal with people who deviate from normal, accepted behavior. People who violate these rules are treated as criminals and punished according to the laws of the land. Any act or behavior that harms others and society in general is a crime and is dealt with accordingly.

Crime differs from social norms in the sense that there is no legal standing of norms and a person violating them cannot be punished by law. It is only when, he has committed a crime that violates a written law that a person can be arrested and interrogated by law enforcing authorities and later tried in a court of law. The court may give its verdict of prison sentence with a financial penalty for the culprit if the accused is proved guilty.


If one looks up a dictionary, offence is defined as an act that violates civil or criminal law. This violation is of such a nature that it brings harm to the society and makes the culprit liable to serve a sentence in prison with a possible financial penalty. Different countries of the world have different judicial systems in place, and the definitions of the word offence differ accordingly. The thing to remember is that an offence is punishable by law only if is cognizable. This means that the offence must violate some penal laws to be tried in a court of law. Unless the act or behavior finds no mention in law, it is not an offence. Violation of a criminal law is, therefore, an offence and it is offence that finds mention in law books as a definition, not crime.

What is the difference between Crime and Offence?

• Law makes no difference in the words crime and offence and, in fact, terms violation of penal laws as the definition of offence.

• An act or behavior that does not break a law is not an offence.

• The word offense comes from offender who is a person violating a law.

• There are some offences that are not cognizable or punishable by law..

• However, a crime is always a violation of law.