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Classical Theories of Crime

Theories in crime are made so that a person can understand and explain the causation behind any crime that takes place. There are even hopes to discover new things while following these theories while investigating a crime or just studying intensively about it.

Let us discuss some theories of crime to understand it better.


This theory dates back to ancient times where the cause of a crime done was considered supernatural, where the human was under the control of demons, witches, ghosts, spirits etc. These possessed humans were not really regarded as “criminal” per se because they had no mens rhea and were at the mercy of supernatural forces. However, if there is no solution to bring back to their normal state, they might be killed. Let us discuss some real life examples that might make the theory clearer. Salem Witch trail is one of the most famous example under this theory. The people under this theory were suspicioned that they might be engaged in witchcraft and were tortured, burned, hanged in the name of supernatural crime committed by them.


The Classical Theory of Crime is about the clear thinking and rationality of the person committing the crime. This simply means that the person can distinguish between right and wrong, yet does it after weighting the hurt and pleasure that they would get out of the crime. In the 19th century in England, there were at least hundred crimes that were punishable by death. However, with the evolvement of criminology, there were change in criminal policy and death sentence became rare.


This theory can be defined as “New classical theories that view crime as influenced by criminal opportunities to commit crime.” It argues that more action and less theory is needed but also overlooks the fact that those very theories are rooted in assumptions utilitarianism and hedonism.


This theory is a part of neoclassical theory that “Proposes that offenders weigh the opportunities, cost and benefits of particular crimes.” The theorists believe that even though the criminal is fully in their senses, they still commit crime because of the benefits that they get as the end result. They also emphasized on the presence of various circumstances that leads them to commit such heinous activities, however they may vary from crime to crime.


This theory talks about how if a criminal is persuaded not to commit a crime and abide by the law by inducing fear of punishment. As we have discussed, criminals engage in thoroughly thinking their plans before committing them, thus making them also consider the repercussions. Therefore, if they figure out that the benefits that they would get from committing the crime is not worth the punishment, then they might drop the plan.


Theories of crime, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting way of researching or studying criminology. It helps to understand how they evolved, what is the scientific logic behind the investigation and how it might look in the future.


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