The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Crime \Crime\ (kr[imac]m), n. [F. crime, fr. L. crimen judicial
decision, that which is subjected to such a decision, charge,
fault, crime, fr. the root of cernere to decide judicially.
1. Any violation of law, either divine or human; an omission
of a duty commanded, or the commission of an act forbidden
2. Gross violation of human law, in distinction from a
misdemeanor or trespass, or other slight offense. Hence,
also, any aggravated offense against morality or the
public welfare; any outrage or great wrong. "To part error
from crime." --Tennyson.
Note: Crimes, in the English common law, are grave offenses
which were originally capitally punished (murder, rape,
robbery, arson, burglary, and larceny), as
distinguished from misdemeanors, which are offenses of
a lighter grade. See Misdemeanors.
3. Any great wickedness or sin; iniquity.
No crime was thine, if 'tis no crime to love.
4. That which occasion crime. [Obs.]
The tree of life, the crime of our first father's
Capital crime, a crime punishable with death.
Syn: Sin; vice; iniquity; wrong.
Usage: Crime, Sin,Vice. Sin is the generic term,
embracing wickedness of every kind, but specifically
denoting an offense as committed against God. Crime is
strictly a violation of law either human or divine;
but in present usage the term is commonly applied to
actions contrary to the laws of the State. Vice is
more distinctively that which springs from the
inordinate indulgence of the natural appetites, which
are in themselves innocent. Thus intemperance,
unchastity, duplicity, etc., are vices; while murder,
forgery, etc., which spring from the indulgence of
selfish passions, are crimes.
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
CAPITAL CRIME. One for the punishment of which death is inflicted, which
punishment is called capital punishment. Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.
2. The subject of capital punishment has occupied the attention of
enlightened men for a long time, particularly since the middle of the last
century; and none deserves to be more carefully investigated. The right of
punishing its members by society cannot be denied; but how far this right
extends, by the laws of nature or of God, has been much disputed by
theoretical writers, although it cannot be denied, that most nations,
ancient and modern, have deemed capital punishment to be within the scope of
the legitimate powers of government. Beccaria contends with zeal that the
punishment of death ought not to be inflicted in times of peace, nor at
other times, except in cases where the laws can be maintained in no other
way. Bee. Chap. 28.
3. It is not within the plan of this work to examine the question,
whether the punishment is allowed by the natural law. The principal
arguments for and against it are here given.
4.-1. The arguments used in favor of the abolition of capital
5.-1st. That existence is a right which men hold from God, and which
society in body can, no more than a member of that society, deprive them of,
because society is governed by the immutable laws of humanity.
6.-2d. That, even should the right be admitted, this is a restraint
badly selected, which does not attain its end, death being less dreaded than
either solitary confinement for life, or the performance of hard labor and
disgrace for life.
7.-3d. That the infliction of the punishment does not prevent crimes,
any more than, other less severe but longer punishments.
8.-4th. That as a public example, this punishment is only a barbarous
show, better calculated to accustom mankind to the contemplation of
bloodshed, than to restrain them.
9.-5th. That the law by taking life, when it is unnecessary for the
safety of society, must act by some other motive this can be no other than
revenge. To the extent the law punishes an individual beyond what is
requisite for the preservation of society, and the restoration of the
offender, is cruel and barbarous. The law) to prevent a barbarous act,
commits one of the same kind,; it kills one of the members of society, to
convince the others that killing is unlawful.
10.-6th. That by depriving a man of life, society is deprived of the
benefits which he is able to confer upon it; for, according to the vulgar
phrase, a man hanged is good for nothing.
11.-7th. That experience has proved that offences which were formerly
punished with death, have not increased since the punishment has been
changed to a milder one.
12.-2. The arguments which have been urged on the other side, are,
13.-1st. That all that humanity commands to legislators is, that they
should inflict only necessary and useful punishments; and that if they keep
within these bounds, the law may permit an extreme remedy, even the
punishment of death, when it is requisite for the safety of society.
14.-2d. That, whatever be said to the contrary, this punishment is
more repulsive than any other, as life is esteemed above all things, and
death is considered as the greatest of evils, particularly when it is
accompanied by infamy.
15.-3d. That restrained, as this punishment ought to be, to the
greatest crimes, it can never lose its efficacy as an example, nor harden
the multitude by the frequency of executions.
16.-4th. That unless this punishment be placed at the top of the scale
of punishment, criminals will always kill, when they can, while committing
an inferior crime, as the punishment will be increased only by a more
protracted imprisonment, where they still will hope for a pardon or an
17th.-5th. The essays which have been made by two countries at least;
Russia, under the reign of Elizabeth, and Tuscany, under the reign of
Leopold, where the punishment of death was abolished, have proved
unsuccessful, as that punishment has been restored in both.
18. Arguments on theological grounds have also been advanced on both
sides. See Candlish's Contributions towards the Exposition of the Book of
Genesis, pp. 203-7. Vide Beccaria on Crimes and Punishments; Voltaire,
h.t.; Livingston's Report on a Plan of a Penal Code; Liv. Syst. Pen. Law,
22; Bentham on Legislation, part 3, c. 9; Report to the N. Y. Legislature;
18 Am. Jur. 334.