Vocabulary About Crime and Criminals

Crime scene barrier tape
Tetra Images/Getty Images

These words are used when talking about crime and criminals. Each word is placed in a related category and defined.

Crime Types

Assault: To hit/injure someone physically.

Blackmail: To threaten to reveal incriminating materials if someone doesn't do something.

Burglary: To steal or break into a home or car, etc.

Fraud: A deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

Hijacking: Unlawfully seizing an aircraft, vehicle, or ship while in transit

Hooliganism: Volent or rowdy behavior that occurs (typically) in crowds or gangs.

Kidnapping: The act of abducting someone and holding them captive.

Mugging: The act of attacking and robbing someone in a public place.

Criminal Terms

Mugger: A person who attacks and robs another in a public place.

Murderer: A person who kills another person.

Robber: A person who steals from another person.

Shoplifter: A person who steals from a store.

Smuggler: A person who imports/exports prohibited goods.

Terrorist: A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Thief: A person who steals.

Vandal: A person who defaces property of another person.

Justice System Terms

Appeal: Asking for a reversal of the decision of a court.

Barrister: A British term for a lawyer.

Caution: Care taken to avoid danger or mistakes.

Cell: An area considered a living space for inmates within a prison.

Community service: Voluntary work intended to help people in a particular area.

Court: Place where cases and legal matters are conducted.

Court case: A dispute between two parties that is decided in a court of law.

Death penalty: The punishment of execution.

Defense: The case presented by or on behalf of the party being accused.

Fine: The payment of money for being caught.

Gaol, jail: The place where accused persons and criminals are held.

Guilty: Found responsible for wrongdoing or an unlawful act.

Imprisonment: The state of being imprisoned.

Innocent: Not being guilty of a crime.

Judge: An official appointed to decide cases in a court of law.

Jury: A group of people (typically twelve in number) sworn to give a verdict in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted in court.

Justice: A judge or magistrate, or, the quality of fairness.

Lawyer: Someone who practices or studies law.

Offense: A breach of law/illegal act.

Sentence: Length of time a prisoner is imprisoned.

Prison: A building where people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial.

Probation: The release of an offender from detention, subject to a period of good behavior under supervision.

Prosecution: The legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge.

Punishment: The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.

Capital punishment: The legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime.

Corporal punishment: Physical punishment, such as caning or flogging.

Remand home: Detention/reform school for juvenile offenders.

Solicitor: An officer having charge of a legal business.

Trial: A formal examination of evidence before a judge and/or jury, in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings.

Verdict: The legally binding decision on a case.

Witness: A person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place.

Crime Verbs

Arrest: To take someone into custody legally.

Ban: To forbid or limit something.

Break-in: To enter somewhere without consent or by force.

Break-out: To leave somewhere without consent or by force.

Break the law: To go against the law.

Burgle: To enter (a building) illegally with the intent to commit theft.

Charge: To accuse someone of an illegal act.

Commit a crime: To do something illegal.

Escape: To break free from confinement or control.

Getaway: An escape or quick departure, especially after committing a crime.

Get away with: To avoid prosecution for a criminal act.

Hold up: To point a weapon at someone to make them give them money or a valuable good.

Investigate: To look deeper into a matter and gather information about what happened.

Rob: To take something forcefully from someone unwilling.

Steal: To take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.

Other Crime-Related Words

Alibi: A story given to explain that one was not near the location of a crime.

Armed: To be in the possession of a firearm (gun).

Burglar: Someone who steals from others, a thief.

Car alarm: An alarm on a motor vehicle.

Alarm: Loud noise meant to draw attention when disturbed.

Legal: Pertaining to the law, on the right side of the law, allowed.

Illegal: Against the law, criminal.

Store detective: Someone who watches over a store to make sure people don't steal from it.

Private detective: Someone who is hired to investigate a matter.

Weapon: Something designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.