Article

Homicide

Marc Riedel

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0092
Homicide

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Homicide is one of the oldest moral and legal prohibitions, viewed throughout history from a large variety of perspectives. One of the earliest accounts of homicide is the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible. The prohibition of homicide is one of the oldest laws, although how it is implemented has varied among cultures. For example, in the Roman Republic, homicide victimization was a matter for families to settle, not the government. Homicide is explored in depth and variety in literature. “Murder most foul” is explored in fiction from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to detective stories and beyond. Finally, social sciences such as history, political science, and psychology have their own detailed bodies of literature. The criminological and criminal justice approach taken here is to examine homicide from the perspective of social sciences, primarily sociology and criminology, although political violence is not included. The 8th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as “the killing of one person by another.” The killing of another, whether lawful or not lawful, is homicide; there is no “crime of homicide,” says Brian Garner in Black’s Law Dictionary. Criminal homicide is divided into murder and manslaughter. Justifiable homicide is divided into justifiable homicide by civilians such as self-defense, justifiable homicides by police, and state-sanctioned killings such as executions. What may be confusing is that researchers frequently use the term “homicide” without distinguishing between murder and manslaughter. The research does, however, consistently distinguish between criminal homicide and justifiable homicides. As Black’s Law Dictionary goes on to point out, there are a variety of homicide laws that are not given much attention by researchers.

Article.  17944 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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