Definition of “Crime” in Iranian Criminal Justice System


Mohammad Jafar Saed

Ph.D in Criminology and Criminal Law



Crime is an social phenomenon in the present world as past. It is an ambiguity and general definition for the crime. It is clear that in any perspective we can find a conception and concept of the crime. The definition in a criminological view differs from that in a philosophical one, as well as in a political perspective. It is also true even in the area of criminology, political sciences, philosophy or so on per ce, namely we can talk about the variety of definitions for the crime in different views and approaches.


Crime for Criminal Policy

Every criminal justice system has a special definition of crime with respect to its thought and general policies. It returns to a scientific area so called “criminal policy”, which talks about making a relevant decision or taking certain measures on how to answer to the criminal phenomenon, consisting of crime and deviance. Iranian criminal justice system as one of the criminal justice system tries to define the crime in its criminal policy, namely, focusing on its main policies on crime and punishment.

Most of the systems has a common definition on crime. It exactly relates to take place the event in societies in a same way and for the same purposes. In most the systems, Crime is any act or omission having punishment by criminal Act adopted previously by criminal legislator after spending the given procedural process, namely due process for that. That is, the nature of the crime is common. Just an only thing being deferent among them is a thought or policy protects the nature. In other words, a behavior is identified as a crime depends on a thought, being a powerful effort and force to define a crime and to identify its kinds. So, for defining a crime we should refer to a criminal policy taking by a government.

Iranian criminal system is based on Islamic doctrines and teachings. So, for having a definition of crime, we have to scrutiny among the doctrines and teachings. Regardless of turning to them in details, we can find a whole approach in this relation. What to be contrary to given Islamic duties and rights shall be punishable by Islamic teachings except some special cases. Any citizens in the Islamic Republic of Iran have to respect what the holly religion focuses on as certain commands having most important for that. Adultery, for instance, is one of the given commands for the religion that all Muslim have to not do at all within Iranian territory or elsewhere under the Iranian sovereignty. Otherwise, s/he shall be punished. However, the well-known crimes do not obtain the object just only based on Islam, but also some of those exactly return to some social requirements. Computer crime or cyber crimes are the examples of the dimension on criminalizing the conduct.


Crime Faces in Practice    

In Iranian criminal Justice like other ones, the crime, in practice, has two faces: act and omission. Of course, we can find another face for the crime well-known habitual behaviors or status that in fact is a part of act. As murder and blackmail are some examples for the act, denying in giving maintenance or alimony by a husband or abounding a child by his/her parents are cases foromission. Meantime, the examples of habitual status are Beggary and addiction.

These faces with respect to present Islamic Punishment Act, appear in the fifth forms: Hodod, Qesas (retaliation), Diyat (blood money), Taazirat (governmental punishment) and deterrent punishments. The latest one has been eliminated in new Punishment Islamic Act which has not in force so far.

 New Punishment Islamic Act, adopted in 2012, has not been in force yet, crime in practice is defined like past. That is to say crime is similar to the one stipulated in past Punishment Islamic Act conceptually and practically. So, the faces of crimes in the latest Act have not varied and not differed from those said in past Act.

Article 2 of the present Act in the case of definition of a crime says “crime is any act or omission for which it has been expressed a given punishment by the law”.

Unfortunately, the definition has been repeated in the new Act relatively and the only deferent point in the letter is to add the word of “conduct” before any act or omission. That is to say the definition of crime in the latter act is “any conduct, either act or omission, for which has been identified a punishment by law”. So, we can find a little differentiation between both the said definitions.  

As past, there are some objections on the new definition. While it is reality in the criminal justice systems to use security and punitive attempts for some special offenders, specially children and insane for protecting society against them without inflicting punishment on them also, we see that in the past and new Islamic punishment Act there is not find the security actions in the definition of crime whilst we see these as alternatives for punishment in case of some special offenders whose punishment will not be acceptable and reasonable.