What is a Crime

A crime is an act that breaks a law that relates to how to behave in society. The harm caused by the act is seen to be against society as a whole, not just a specific person. 

More specifically, a crime is an act (something you do) or omission (something you don’t do) that is against the law and punishable upon conviction. Crime includes:

  • Criminal Code offences against a person or property
  • Drug offences
  • Some motor vehicle offences

Crime Against a Person

A crime against a person includes force or threat of force against someone, for example:

  • Deliberately and violently hurting another person
  • Threatening to hurt or attempting to hurt another person
  • Murder, attempted murder, sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping
  • Some traffic accidents that result in death

Crime Against Property

A crime against property includes unlawfully taking or attempting to take someone’s property from them or willfully damaging another person’s property. Property crimes may or may not involve violence against a person. Some examples include:

  • Theft, for example, stealing someone’s car or stealing something from a vehicle
  • Having stolen property or being dishonest with someone to gain something illegally (fraud)
  • Breaking and entering into someone’s home or breaking someone’s windows

Other Types of Crime

Other crimes under the Criminal Code of Canada that do not fall under the above two categories (crime against a person or property) include:

  • Drug offences
  • Motor vehicle offences (for example, impaired driving that results in death)
  • Arson (setting fires on purpose)
  • Gaming and betting
  • Weapons possession

More Information

To learn more about what a crime is, visit:

Jury Duty

A jury is a group of people who decide if an accused person in a criminal trial is guilty or if a claim in a civil trial has been proven. Learn more about jury duty.

Criminal Justice Glossary

Check our alphabetical list of criminal justice terms along with their definitions.
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