Show Menu

Criminology Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

Intro to Criminology

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Types of Crimin­ology

Classical Crimin­ology
Charac­terized by free choice. Punish­ments must be swift, certain, and severe. Came from Utilit­arian philos­ophers that suggest we have free will and may choose to pursue law-ab­iding or law-br­eaking paths.
Positivism (late 19th century)
Inspired by new scientific discov­eries such as astronomy, chemistry, and scientific method. Trying to understand external reason for crime (wealth, conflict, class, politi­cal). Biological (physi­ognomy - facial features, phrenology - skull and bumps) and psycho­logical traits. Shifts in attention to brain functi­on/­per­son­ality as key to criminal behaviour.
Sociol­ogical Crimin­ology
Another group of positivism not just concerned with biolog­y/p­syc­hology.
Conflict Crimin­ology
Influenced by Karl Marx, considers the most important social relati­onship to be between the powers of the means of production (bourg­eoisie and prolet­ariat) The exploi­tation of the working class is the cause of conflict. Brought challenge to the Chicago school.
Chicago School
Extension of sociol­ogical postivism, research on the social ecology of the city, critical social instit­utions break down in neighb­our­hoods with consistent high rates of poverty. Social instit­utions are unable to control behaviour. Studied ecology of crime: crime in the context of where a person lives, as well as social­ization of crime: crime occurs where there's an absence of pro-social influence.
Early Crime/­Pun­ishment
Founded in supers­tition, fear of magic and black arts, satanism. Salem witch trails, if innocent God would intervene. Oath-h­elpers would speak on behalf of the accused. Common to punish those living outside social norms.

Important People

Cesare Basscaria
Stated that in order for punishment not to be an act of violence, it must be public, prompt, necessary, propor­tio­natee to the crimes, and dictated by law. Studied cadavers of executed criminals, inspired criminal anthro­pology. Claimed that you were born a criminal and could tell if someone was a criminal based on their face/body. Criminals had primitive traits, compared criminal behaviour to mental illness.
Jeremy Bentham
Punishment systems must be graduated so that the punishment most closely matches the crime.
Mathem­atician who behan the cartog­raphic school of crimin­ology. Used mathem­atical techniques to invest­igate social factors that influence crimin­ality.
Emily Durkheim
Said crime is normal and healthy, crime can result from anomie
John Hagen
3 dimens­ions: evaluation of social harm, level of agreement in society about the norm, and severity of social response. Conflict crimes have a high level of disagr­eement about the norm. Consensus crimes appear the least often.
William Sumner
Establ­ished that deviance is a violation of contec­tual, cultural, or social norms. Society defines what is deviant and what isn't. We make things deviant by how we react to them.


Body of knowledge regarding crime. Process of making­/br­eaking laws. Multid­isc­ipl­inary approach using scientific methods.
Explains crime by looking at its origin, extent, and in society.
Criminal Justice Scholar
Descri­be/­analyze work of police, courts, and correc­tions and how to design effective methods of crime control.
Departs from social norms but are not criminal. (ie. speeding, jay-wa­lking, etc.)
Violation of an explicit codified law that is enforced by gov't bodies.
Instru­mental Crime
Serving a purpose (ie. stealing a blanket on a cold night)
Expressive Crime
Illegal activity serving no purpose (often violent), express frustr­ation.
Inchoate Crime
Incomplete offenses.
Attent­ional act for committing a crime that is more than mere prepar­ation.
Voluntary agreement to commit an act using means forbidden by law.
Preventing crimes before they occur through threat of punish­ment.
Wigmore Test
States that the commun­ica­tions must originated in a confidence that they will not be disclosed, benefit must be greater than the injury.

Elements to be Found Guilty

Actus Reus - "­guilty act"
Mens Rea - "­guilty mind", refers to criminal intent.
Transf­erred Intent: When the intent­ional harm of one victim uninte­nti­onally causes harm to a second victim
Strict­/Ab­solute liability - does not require presence of Mens Rea

Psycho­logical Trait Theories

Uncons­cious person­ality developed in early childhood will influence behaviour for the rest of our lives. Explains early onset of crime, focuses on mental disorders, person­ality develo­pment, uncons­cious motiva­tions, drives.
People commit crimes when modelling behaviour after others, explains the role of society in the crime process and how the media can influence crime/­vio­lence
Individual reasoning process influence behaviour. Explains why behaviour patterns change over time as we develop higher reasoning, might explain aging out. Focuses on perception and cognition.

Support for Victims

Victim Impact Statements
Used to give victims a voice in the justice process
Victim Compen­sation
Vary by province
Pretrial Safety
Peace bonds, RO's, public­ation bans, etc.
Victim Offender Reconc­ili­ation Program

Age and Crime

Aging Out
Frequency of offending goes down as popula­tions age.
Early Onset
People who are deviant at early ages are more likely to become persistent offenders. Men are more likely to commit homicide between ages 18-25, women between 25-29.
People commit econom­ic/drug crime beyond the age of desist­ance.

Crime Trends

Generally young males, ages 15-25
Relati­onship is unclear
Much higher levels of victim­ization
Reduction in inequality associated with decreasing crime rates. Recession may reduce crime tempor­arily (people are too busy staying at home with kids or finding new jobs)
Social Malaise
More community wellbeing is associated with lower crime rates
Cooper­ative vs. Indepe­ndent cultures. Cultures built around community, trust, and respect have lower crime rates.
Increased drug use may affect crime (1 in 10 homicides were related to drug traffi­cki­ng/­con­flict)
"­Tough on crime" approach and selective incapa­cit­ation may lower crime rates.

Limita­tions of the UCR

Under-­rep­orting of crimes
How police respond to crime
What behaviours the law considers criminal
Sensat­ion­alized coverage that impacts policy or enforc­ement


Mala in Se
Rooted in core values inherent in culture. Designed to control behaviours such as inflicting harm on others, posses­sions belonging to others, and harming other's property.
Mala Prohibitum
Laws that reflect current public opinion and more relative social values concerned with acts that are immoral because it is illegal, not illegal because it is immoral.

Categories of Offending

Indictable Offenses
Serious offenses, no limit to when charges can be laid, more serious punish­ments include life in prison, may have mandatory minimum penalties.
Summary Offenses
More minor/­petty offenses (distu­rbing peace, loiter­ing), 6-month limit for prosec­ution, max punishment is a fine and 6 months in prison.
Hybrid Offenses
Can be dealt with as summary or indictable (impaired driving)

Criminal Stats (criminal trends)

Sociology of Law
Histor­y/o­rigins o law and what factors influence law in society
Theory of Constr­uction
Unders­tanding the cause of crime rates and trends, predictive
Criminal Behaviour Systems
Nature­/cause of specific crime patterns (why a crime occurs)
Correc­tio­n/c­ontrol of criminal behaviour, 2 groups: rehabi­lit­ation or capital punishment
Nature­/cause of victim­iza­tion. Studies victims and how to help/guide them through the justice system.

Criminal Defenses

No Actus Reus
Falsely accused, didn't do the act, seen often in wrongful conviction cases.
No Mens Rea
No intention of doing the act, lacked capacity to be held respon­sible, ignorance, mental disorder, intoxi­cation (excuses)
Did it, intended to do it, but the act was justified out of necessity, duress, self-d­efense, or entrap­ment.
Ignorance of the Law
Not an excuse. Public is expected to be aware of the laws. Can only be used in defense cases where the government has not made the public aware of new laws.
Ignorance or Mistake of Fact
Can be used as an excuse, unaware of underlying facts. There's a burden placed on some crimes to make yourself aware of all facts before procee­ding. "­Consent no Defens­e" - a person must take all reasonable steps to ascertain a person's age before ignorance can be used in a defense where the person is under age of consent.
NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity)
Ended in 1992. Person found NGRI could be held indefi­nitely, doesn't result in acquittal, can be detained in a psychi­atric facility, can live in a supervised community until deemed safe to reinte­grate. Must be fit to stand trial.
M'Naughten Rule
An accused cannot be held legally respon­sible if they 1. Do not know what they are doing is wrong, 2. Cannot distin­guish right from wrong.
Self-I­nduced Intoxi­cation
Can't be used for violent offenses. 2 Except­ions: 1. If someone is intoxi­cated by force, mistake, or under duress, they can use intoxi­cation as a defense, 2. If specific intent is needed for the mens rea of the offense.
In cases where an accused has been threatened by another party with death or serious bodily harm. Cannot be argued in cases where the accused does serious harm to another person to save themselves or others. Threat must be immediate, accused cannot be part of the group planning the offense.
The law must be broken to prevent a "­greater evil." Will never justify the intent­ional killing of another person.
Just enough force as necessary to protect oneself against unprovoked assault. Can be used to justify violent crimes like murder. 2 condit­ions: 1. Must have reasonable belief that they are in danger and using force will prevent the harm, 2. Amount of force used must be no greater than necessary. Can be used to defend property from trespass and to defend a third party.

Criminal Cases

Rex v Scofield
Scofield charged with burning down a house he was renting. He was unsucc­essful and argued it wasn't a crime. Court decided he was still guilty and came up with inchoate crime category.
Kenneth Parks (autom­atism)
Acquitted of killing Barbara Woods. Special case because while he violated others, he did not think of doing so. He could not control his actions.
Morris Case
Charged with assault for grabbing his wife's neck during an alterc­ation, was trying to stop her from jumping out of his moving vehicle.
R v Dudley and Stephens, vs Martin Hartwell
Both cases involved cannib­alism, but in Dudley and Stephens, they killed in order to survive.
R v Lavallee
Shot her abusive partner in the head, charged with murder but acquitted due to active precip­ita­tion. Her partner told her that if she did not kill him, he would kill her.
Elliot Rodger
Founder of incel ideology. Went on a rampage and killed 8 people, argued that he was treated poorly by women and POC, claimed his victims harmed him first. Killed himself after the rampage. Case of passive precip­itation because his victims didn't actually harm him.
Klippert v The Queen
Charged with acts of gross indecency, the crown applied to have him declared as a dangerous sexual offender who was likely to reoffend.
R v Sharpe
Sharpe was arrested in 1995 after customs discovered nudes and other sexually explicit material. Charged with 2 counts of possessing and distri­buting child porn but was acquitted in 1999. Court found a need for exceptions in certain cases: for material that have artistic, educat­ional, or scientific merit, and for personal material that do not involve children.

Social Disorg­ani­zation Theory

Theory Definition
Crime rates result from the ecological condit­ion­s/c­har­act­eri­stics of neighb­orh­oods. Highly transient, mixed-use neighb­our­hoods, changi­ng/poor neighb­our­hoods. Residents usually try to leave at the first opport­unity since its not a good place.
Transi­tional Neighb­our­hoods
An area that undergoes a shift in population and structure, usually moving from middle­-class reside­ntial to lower-­class mixed use.
Cultural Transm­ission (sub cultural values)
The passing down of conduct norms from one generation to the next (stable and predic­table over time.)

Views of Crime

Criminal behaviour is violation of criminal law. It is not a crime unless prohibited by criminal law.
Society is in constant conflict, crime is controlled by wealth, power and position, not moral consensus. Crime is a political concept.
1) people act according to their own interp­ret­ations of reality 2) people learn meanings based on other's reactions 3) people re-eva­luate their own behaviour according to other's reactions.
Crime reflects the prefer­ences and opinions of people who impose a definition of right and wrong on the rest of society. Crimes are not inherently evil, just defined that way. Crime has no meaning unless people react to it.

Role of the Crown

Primary Duty
To ensure protection process is fair to all, evidence is presented thoroughly and accura­tely, and the indepe­ndence and integrity of the justice process is mainta­ined.
Victims and the Crown
Crowns are not lawyers for the victim, victims still have rights in the justice system. Victims have the right to: inform­ation, protec­tion, partic­ipa­tion, and restit­ution.
Ethical Obliga­tions
Crown: present all evidence in an impartial way. Defense: bound by code of conduct as officers of the court but act in the best interests of their client.


Russel Ogden
Masters student at SFU, wrote thesis on euthan­asia, looked at a patient who died under mysterious circum­sta­nces, believed a doctor helped their death. Police asked the student for all his research but Ogden refused as he promised confid­ent­iality. Police took him to court and was told he needed to surrender all research to the police.
Brucket and Parent (Luka Magnotta)
Was a murderer who killed a Concordia student and sent body parts through the mail. Police were unable to find him anywhere in Canada and launched a manhunt. A research assistant came forward and said they interv­iewed Magnotta 5 yrs ago, but because of confid­ent­iality did not know which interview was his, so they had to surrender all interv­iews. Judge found that the interviews must be part of the Wigmore test. Judge conducted wigmore test and found that disclosing the personal info from the interviews would not help the police enough.
Power imbalances between instit­utions and resear­chers could put subjects at risk. Focus on minorities could influence public percep­tion, leading to aggressive policing. Leads to racial bias and discri­min­ation. Should it ever be possible to deceive subjects?

Criminal Law

Laws against the state protecting the public from offense against social order.
-State brings the action forward
-Victim has small role in process
-Burden of proof is on the state, must be proved beyond reasonable doubt

Civil Law

Property Law
Governing transfer and ownership of property
Contract Law
Personal agreements
Tort Law
Personal wrongd­oings and damage (civil action of someone seeking compen­sation for what they've faced)
Standard of Proof
Balance of probab­ilities

Ecology of Crime

Higher rates of crime during warm summer months (people are more social, on vacation with homes unatte­nded, teens out of school)
Homicide rates increase during heat waves.
Violent crime is more likely to occur in West vs. Eastern provinces. Smaller cities in Canada have higher rates of violent crime whereas big cities in US have higher violent crime.


When victims use threats or attack first. Can be used as self-d­efense.
When a victim unknow­ingly threatens or encourages the attacker.

Victim Lifestyle Theories

Equivalent Group Hypothesis
Criminals and victims are not separate groups.
Proximity Hypothesis
People become crime victims because they live close to criminal popula­tions
Deviant Place Hypothesis
Crime has natural areas (poor, densely populated, etc.)

Victim Lifestyle Theories

Equivalent Group Hypothesis
Criminals and victims are not separate groups.
Proximity Hypothesis
People become crime victims because they live close to criminal popula­tions
Deviant Place Hypothesis
Crime has natural areas (poor, densely populated, etc.)

Strain Theory

Where indivi­duals are embracing conven­tional social goals by society and are able to attain those goals.
Individual accepts goals of society but aren’t able to achieve them through conven­tional means. Forced to adopt an innovation solution in order to meet the set goals. Might go off on their own or choose to engage in criminal behaviour as well.
When social goals are lower in import­ance, don’t care to achieve those goals even though they have the means to, might find new organi­zation with new goals. Turn to religi­on/­cults, includes pyramid schemes.
Both rejecting goals that society has and unable to achieve those goals.
Substi­tution of altern­ative sets of goals and means to achieve those goals. Meant to create altern­ative lifest­yles, more radical. Example: French Revolu­tion.