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What Is a Victimless Crime?

Also known as a consensual crime, a victimless crime is an offense wherein there is no evidence of a person or property injured or damaged. Offenses such Public drunkenness or speeding are classified under this violation of criminal law.

A victimless crime is called such because it is difficult to identify a victim. However, the term is a political reference to a criminalized act that does no damage or injury instead of a legal term. A victimless crime can be construed as several offenses. First, it can be understood as a consensual crime wherein no material damage or injury is evident. Second, a victimless crime can be a crime wherein the individual who is damaged or injured is the person himself or herself who has perpetrated the crime. Third, a victimless crime may have an abstract and ambiguous victim such as society in general. Lastly, the fourth understanding of a victimless crime is one wherein a victim is an organization or treated as a non-human party such as the government.

Because victimless crimes are ambiguous in nature, some are perpetrated in an effort to abolish them. One such example is the law regarding homosexuality. Marriages between homosexuals or same-gender couples were categorized as a victimless crime until recently. This previously considered victimless crime was abolished not only because it did not have victims but it also infringed upon an individual’s right to enter into a union with whomever he or she wishes. Another example of a victimless crime that had been overturned and abolished is euthanasia, although its legality depends on certain jurisdictions.

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