Crime; this is a wrong that is prohibited by law; it is a wrong that is of public interest, it may be defined as the wrong against the state laws.

It is therefore an intentional human act or omission prohibited by the public law for the protection of the public.

A crime is punishable by the state in a judicial procedure; it involves behavior and in this case behavior is identified in terms of law.

Unlike the evidence specified by law is present and proved beyond reasonable doubt, an individual should not be convicted of a crime.

Factors that must be met for an act to be considered a crime

  1. Actus Rea; there must be an act or omission prohibited by law.
  2. Mens Rea; there must be intention to committing the act or (the criminal intention or guilty mind). The acts and the mind must go together i.e. if the Actus Rea and the Mens Rea occur then a crime is said to have been committed. However, in must be proved beyond any reasonable doubt.
  3. The law must prohibit the conduct or act.
  4. The conduct must constitute a social disharmony i.e. must be injuries to the state or the people.
  5. The conduct must be punishable and the punishment should be specified in advance by the law.

N/B: The cordial principle of criminal law is in the maximum that an act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is guilty.

Ignorance of the law has no defense.

Criminal law is therefore a body of specific laws by government or a state to govern human behavior.

They are very specific and they specify the wrong versus the punishment that requires.

Criminal law is very uniform, it applies to all people without discrimination of race, colour, gender, status and nationality.


N/B: All people are subjected to the same laws and punishments is satisfied only if the offender has rufringed the rights of others and the law should guarantee the rights of the accused at all stages of the trial.



These principles answers the quiz of when does a person become a criminal.

According to the Kenyan law, a person becomes a criminal when he or she is convicted of the same by the court of competent jurisdiction.

These principles are rules that execute a criminal behavior for punishment or liability.

There are five (5) general principles of criminal liability and they include:-

  1. The principle of insanity
  2. The principle of infancy
  3. The principle of compulsion force
  4. The principle of necessity
  5. The principle of mistakes of facts.


  1. The principle of insanity

Any individual that is insane is not liable for a criminal act or may not be convicted of the same in a court of competent jurisdiction.

  1. The principle of infancy

The law assumes that an individual below the age of 18 years is not liable for a criminal act and cannot be convicted of the same in a court of competent jurisdiction.

This is because the law assumes that he/she does not know what is right or wrong.

However a child committing an offence in companionship with an adult is capable of committing an offence and can be tied in a court of law.

  1. The principle of compulsion force

If you are forced to do something that amounts to a criminal act and can actually prove that you were forced, then you are not guilty of that offence.

It is the accused to prove that actual physical force were present to force him/her to do the same i.e. the act.

  1. The principle of necessity

If you commit an offence out of necessity and you can prove that then you are not guilty of such an offence. This fall under the self defense (i.e. killing one to save many, killing those who attacked you to save your life.

  1. The principle of mistakes of facts

This is about doing something out of fact e.g. killing somebody while in real sense you know the facts or the reasons of doing that.

Types of Offences

  1. Criminal offence

This is a public crime i.e. a crime committed against the state and in this case the state is the prosecutor.

  1. Civil offence

These are wrongs that are committed against individuals’ e.g. torts, breach of contract etc.

  1. Mala – in – se

Are wrongs that are evil not only that they are forbidden but they are also evil in nature e.g. robbery, arson, rape etc.

  1. Mala prohibitor

These are wrongs that are forbidden or prohibited but they are not immoral e.g. trespass

  1. Immoral offences

Are emotional crimes and they includes prostitution, homosexuality, abortion, incest, adultery, fornication, drug addiction etc.

  1. Traffic offences

Are crimes against the traffic rules.

  1. Felony

Any crime that takes one in prison for 7 years and above; it is a very serious crime for which the offender may be sentenced to long imprisonment or death.

They include robbery with violence, hijacking, kidnapping, treason (attempt to overthrow the government), rape etc.

  1. Misdemeanor

A less serious offence for which a fine or a short prison sentence which may be provided in a local detention facility e.g. theft of farm produce, attempted suicide etc.

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