Malum in Se/ Malum Prohibitum

There are different theories when it comes to defining what exactly constitutes a crime. Is a crime simply something that is against the laws of your particular society, nation, or state? Does crime originate from a more organic place, based on morality and the common beliefs of the people who comprise the population? The Latin terms malum in se and malum prohibitum are two criminal theories that are commonly used to describe both definitions of crimes.

Malum in se and malum prohibitum are two models that comprise the origins of criminal law. Although many people may not be familiar with the terms themselves, the concepts are very common and easy to understand. In the United States, if you are accused of any crime, you have the right to defend yourself in a court of law. If you are facing criminal charges and need legal assistance, contact Austin criminal defense attorney Ian Inglis at (512) 472-1950.


The definitions of the two terms are as follows:

  • Malum in Se - means "evil in itself" and typically refers to the theory that some actions are inherently wrong, and can be recognized as such by nearly every person, regardless of where they live or the laws in their society. Types of malum in se crimes may include murder and rape.
  • Malum Prohibitum - means "wrong because it is prohibited" and applies to laws, rules, and regulations that are not universally recognized. This may include laws that are set by a specific government in a certain area, but may not be the same elsewhere. A good example of malum prohibitum laws are traffic rules, which may vary greatly from nation to nation.

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If you have been accused of a crime, contact Austin criminal defense attorney Ian Inglis at (512) 472-1950 for the representation you need.

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