What Is A Victimless Crime?
‘Crime without Victim’ is a term used for illegal actions but does not threaten the rights of another person. It started with the necessity to repeal the old laws against homosexuality. The reference taken was from the work of American sociologist Edwin M. Schur in his book Crimes Without Victims: Deviant Behaviour and Public Policy (1965), which addressed the issues of abortion, homosexuality and drug addiction.
There is no genuine interest among people to complain to the police and present evidence against the culprits since no third party is harmed.
Crime committed where the victim is aware of the crime may be classified as a civil or a criminal offence, and where the victim is unaware, it is known as a victimless crime. Example: A person trespassing through a neighbour’s yard without being aware and causing no damage is a victimless crime.
There are three acknowledged meanings of victimless crimes.
- Offences with no harm to either of the parties and with their consent. Such as prostitution, pornography and gambling.
- Crimes where harm is caused to the perpetrator, such as suicide, truancy or drug use. The perpetrator is not called the victim as they are harmed.
- Activities that are morally wrong and could harm society. Examples are traffic violations, trespassing, and failing to follow safety laws.
Should Victimless Crimes Be Punished?
- Though victimless crime does not harm anybody, it should be penalized in the social interest.
- Upholding the moral standards of society is essential.
- Victimless consensual crimes have unique features that make them an indirect threat to the privacy of innocent people.
- Such crimes can create gang subcultures due to the involvement of demand and money.
- Making such crimes non–criminal is against the moral values of society. They diminish the quality of life and cause actual harm to society.
The underworld community is created against consensual crimes, which means a subculture is created for whom the police are the enemy, and it goes against the moral conduct of society. They encourage violence and revenge.
Further, Victimless crimes have a unique feature of making them a threat to innocent people. These crimes threaten the privacy of innocent people due to the monitoring and investigation they require for enforcement. Also, none of the people in such a crime would report to the police. Instead, officers must wiretap and engage in extensive monitoring and surveillance of suspects to enforce this kind of law.
Some of the crimes without victims are:
Crimes for the protection of the people. The government can get away with many restrictions for the people’s good
- Seat Belt laws
- Motorbike helmet laws
- Drug prohibition
On the pretext of protecting the youth, specific rules are made:
- Ban on factual sex education.
- clothing restrictions
- parental notification
In most jurisdictions, criminal activities considered victimless crimes are drug abuse, bigamy, prostitution, and ticket scalping. However, it is debated whether they are “victimless” or not. At the same time, some are legally regarded as victimless, such as prostitution, and stand at the forefront of the debate over whether anyone is harmed or not, physically, morally or otherwise.
There is a debate on whether the prosecution of consensual crimes should be maintained or should they be decriminalized. There are certain arguments for maintaining the prosecution of victimless crime, such as costs. However, the main thrust of supporting prosecution tends to be rooted in arguing that society is enhanced by locking up victimless criminal offenders.