A crime or criminal offense is any culpable action or omission punishable by criminal law (penal law). In the legal sense, acts punishable by laws other than criminal law (e.g. civil law) are not called crimes - for example, most traffic violations or breach of contracts are not crimes in a legal sense.
A person who has committed a crime is called a criminal. The systematic study of the causes (aetiology), prevention, control, and penal responses to crime is called criminology.
The act of making something a crime is called criminalisation. The opposite is called decriminalisation.
Colloquial use of the term
Colloquially, sometimes evil acts (a subjective, not a legal term) are also called "crimes" even if they are not punishable by any law. This usage may suggest that the person thinks that act should be punished. For example, an environmentalist might call the felling of a tree a "crime" although it is a perfectly legal act.
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