Let’s discuss another important topic which will be very useful if you want to score high in IELTS Crime and punishment.
Step by step we are moving forward to another important vocabulary section – crime and punishment. Let’s start with the word crime. Its definition is simple: an act against the law. But it can have many different meanings when used in expressions, so let’s have a closer look at some of them.
- petty crime – not a serious crime
- violent crime – crime which includes assault
- organized crime – organized group of people commits crimes or engages in criminal enterprises for profit.
- white-collar crime – a term mostly referring to business world crimes. Usually crimes committed by businessmen or office workers for financial gain.
- victimless crime – a crime with no apparent victim
Example: He has a history of violent crime stretching back to his early years.
Bribery is a popular type of white-collar crime. In case of victimless crimes prosecution starts within one week.
Now let’s work with some other useful phrases.
If you don’t know some of them, write them in your notepad for future reference.
- to carry out a crime – to commit a crime;
- to investigate a crime – to detect / solve a crime;
- to fight crime – to tackle crime;
- to prevent crime – to preclude crime;
- a crackdown on crime – a serious attempt to punish people for committing crimes;
- life of crime – criminal way of living; a crime wave – a sudden increase in the amount of crime in an area;
- circumstances of the crime – conditions under which a crime was committed;
- the incidence of crime – the number of times crime happens or develops;
In general, there are dozens of expressions with the word crime.
Now let’s move forward and discuss the types of crime!
- A popular word in action movies is abduction. It is an act of capturing, carrying away by force.
Example : There has been a series of abductions in the area.
- Arson is an act of criminal burning of property.
Example: It looked like an accidental fire, not arson.
- assault – a violent physical attack
Example : His body showed signs of assault.
- burglary – illegal entrance into premises with criminal intent
Example : They said there was a burglary, but nothing was missing.
- child abuse – physical or emotional mistreatment of a child
Example: In the United States the laws defining what constitutes child abuse vary from state to state.
- drug trafficking – production, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs
Example: The key source of profit of organized criminal groups is drug trafficking.
- fraud – If you are promised a million dollars on the Internet, it’s fraud. Fraud is trickery intended to gain an advantage.
Example: She was found guilty of committing fraud.
- hacking – special type of Internet crime. When somebody’s website or server is hacked, it means that the server or website is broken.
- hijacking – stopping and stealing a vehicle
Example : He hijacked a truck, threatening the driver with a gun.
- murder – the crime of deliberately killing a person
Example : Her husband was found murdered.
- manslaughter – also killing a person, BUT accidentally – without the intent to do so.
Example : He was back in prison 2 years later, convicted of manslaughter
- terrorism – violence or threat of violence as a way of trying to achieve a political goal
Example : International action to combat terrorism should focus heavily on prevention.
- blackmailing – using secret information to get something in return (usually money)
Example : The former Romanian Prime Minister was placed on probation for blackmail.
- felony – a serious crime such as murder or burglary
Example : Filing false tax returns is a felony.
- pickpocketing – stealing someone’s belongings from pockets and purses
Example : Any tourist city is a haven for pickpockets and thieves.
- shoplifting – stealing things from a shop or store.
Example : A boy shoplifted a toy from the store.
- And the last word combination is traffic offences – crimes committed on the road. When committing a traffic offence people usually have to pay a fine.
Example : In European countries fines for traffic offences are extremely high.
Another big part of the crime and punishment vocabulary is court vocabulary.
- a defendant – a person accused of a crime in court
Example : The defendant was convicted of murder.
- a prosecutor – the lawyer who represents the side that tries to prove the person guilty
Example : The public prosecutor finally decided not to pursue charges.
- a witness – a person who sees something (such as crime) happening
Example : The defense called its first witness.
- guilty – responsible for committing a crime or doing something wrong
Example : The jury found him guilty of murder.
- victim – a person who has been attacked in some way by somebody.
Example : Some victims are selected because they seem vulnerable.
Some useful expressions with the word victim:
- Innocent / unsuspecting victim – not deserving to be harmed;
- to portray somebody as a victim – to present somebody as a victim.
- a suspect – a person who is believed to be guilty
Example: The man was arrested as a suspect.
- an attorney – a lawyer who can sue or defend people.
Example: If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you by the state.
- evidence – something that can serve to prove something. In our context evidence is usually presented in court to prove that someone is guilty or innocent.
Popular expressions with the word evidence are:
- hearsay evidence – evidence based not on a witness’s personal knowledge but on another’s statement not made under oath;
- criminal evidence – evidence related to a criminal case; in the light of evidence / in the face of evidence – considering the evidence;
- not a scrap of evidence – no evidence;
- verdict – the decision made by a jury in a trial.
Example: The jury reached a verdict after hours of deliberation.
And here is a list of verdict expressions:
- favorable verdict – positive verdict
- adverse verdict – negative verdict
- to appeal against a verdict – to protest a verdict
- final verdict – definitive verdict.
- a judge – a public official given the right to decide on questions brought before a court of justice
Example: The judge ordered the company to pay compensation.
The following expressions are also widely used:
a panel of independent judges – judicial division / bench
High Court Judge – a judge in the High Court
- jury – a group of people that decides on a court case
Example: Tell the jury in your own words what happened.
trial by jury – to hear the case in a court with participation of jury
to serve on a jury – carry out responsibilities of a jury
Now let’s talk about possible penalties or the types of punishment and words and phrases to describe them.
- death penalty also known as capital punishment is the execution of a person after judgment by a legal system
Example : Our criminal system is very careful in cases of death penalty.
- suspended sentence – the judge’s decision to delay a prison or jail sentence.
Example: A suspended sentence usually remains on the defendant’s criminal record permanently.
- forfeiture – the loss of property or money because of legal obligation or as a judge’s decision.
Example: The court may also order forfeiture of property in this case.
- probation – a period of time in which a person who has committed a crime is allowed to stay out of prison if that person behaves well.
Example: She was put on probation for 3 years.
- to suspend a license – usually refers to a driver’s license and means that your license is taken away for a period of time.
Example: If you are ticketed for too many violations within a specific period of time, your license will be suspended.
- corporal punishment – physical punishment
Example: Corporal punishment of some form is still used in schools in some states.
- prison sentence / custodial sentence / imprisonment – these terms are almost similar in meaning and thus could serve to paraphrase. They all describe a situation when someone is convicted and sent to spend a specified period of time in prison.
Example : A court can give a range of prison sentences including suspended, fixed-term, and life sentences.
- a ban – sometimes a jury can impose a ban which means that you are prohibited from doing something.
Example: He was banned from entering the building.
- a fine – an amount of money an offender must pay
Example: A fine can be given instead of or in addition to imprisonment.
- community service – Sometimes a jury can decide to send a guilty person to perform some community service. Community service refers to unpaid work beneficial for the community.
Example: Alternative sentences can include different combinations of the following: a suspended sentence, probation and community service.
That’s basically all for crime and punishment vocabulary. It might seem to be too difficult to memorize all of them in one day, but you don’t have to! Take your time, memorize basic vocabulary, and remember to use them in your writing and other parts of the IELTS examination! Good luck!
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