For Students: Talking about crime
Updated: Jan 21
Have you ever broken the law? I bet you have! I don't mean by committing a serious crime, like putting on a balaclava and robbing a bank or waiting outside in the getaway car because you're the getaway driver, I mean petty crime, like speeding, jaywalking or even fare dodging. We all have at some point in our life. Crime is always an interesting subject to talk about in the classroom. A subject with a lot of vocabulary, too much to cover in a single lesson, but I'd like to cover some basics, and some of the most commonly used words and expressions.
If you break the law, you (usually) get arrested. You might be put in handcuffs and then taken to a police station where they will take your fingerprints and your mugshot What happens after will all depend on the severity of the crime. You might be released with a caution, you might be fined, or you might have to go to court and have your sentence decided by a judge or jury where evidence is given against you. In the worst case you will be sentenced to prison time or in some countries to death depending on the crime.
What makes people commit crime? Is it their upbringing, or does it go deeper? Do you think everyone has the right to bear arms? Would you feel safer? I'm not sure about that, but I do think all police officers should carry a firearm. In the UK they don't, they only have access to a baton, pepper spray, and some have access to a taser whereas in some countries you see the police officers happily walking around with a gun, but does that make people think twice about breaking the law? I think it would make me think twice about it.
You have three people in a crime and they are the victim, the witness, and the suspect, accused, or convict depending on the stage of the crime. I have been a victim of theft 3 times, and all 3 times in Poland – hello Poland. I have also been a witness of a scam in Riga, but I didn't have to give a statement, and as I was casually walking down the street in Prague two guys ran passed me like Usain Bolt carrying a handbag – a mugging - but don't worry, I have also seen drunk and disorderly in the UK most Saturday nights when I used to go out at the weekend. And of course, with alcohol you're not very far away from assault.
Talking of types of crime, let's have a look at some of the names and what they actually mean.
Shoplifting – stealing from a shop – a brilliant sign I saw the other day here
Burglary – stealing from a house
Mugging – using force or threatening behaviour and then stealing something
Assault – physically beating up someone
Scam – tricking people into believing something is real and then taking their money
Murder – killing someone intentionally
Manslaughter – killing someone unintentionally
Bribery – giving someone money or a present to make them do or not do something
Rape – having sexual intercourse without the consent of the other person
Arson – setting fire to something
Fraud – lying about who you are and what you have to gain something
Forgery – copying someone's work or signature without their official permission
Drunk and disorderly – getting drunk and causing trouble
Vandalism – destroying or defacing public property
What 3 crimes are most common in your city?
I'd like you to play judge for a moment. I'm going to give you the defence of someone who has committed one of the above crimes, and I'd like you to decide on a sentence for the crimes. Before you decide, let's have a look at the common sentences there are
Released without charge – the person goes home without any punishment
Rehabilitation – this person must go somewhere and seek help for their problem
Fined – this person has to pay money to the victim, and other parties involved
Community service – this person has to work with other convicts who help clean and improve the community like painting walls, cleaning the streets, etc
A suspended sentence – this person is given a time, for example 2 years, where if they break the law in any way in that time, they will be sent to prison.
Sentenced to <time> - this person goes to prison for some time
Life – this doesn't actually mean their whole life, and life is different in different countries. It's usually between 20-25 years
Death – this person is sent to death row and will wait for their capital punishment
Crime 1: Shoplifting
Defense ' I was so hungry, I had to steal it. I hadn't eaten for 2 days. I can't get a job and the government won't give me any benefits. I knew it was wrong, but I was worried for my health. Would I do it again? Yes, I would. I had no choice '
Sentence: You decide!
Crime 2: Assault
Defense 'I had an argument with my friend. I don't know why the police got involved. It was between us. Yes, we fought on the street in front of the public, but we are back to being friends now. I don't know why I am being charged with assault'
Sentence: You decide!
Crime 3: Fraud
Defense 'I know what I was doing was wrong. After each day I cried myself to sleep, but I couldn't stop. It was an easy way to make money. I simply would knock on the door of an old widow, tell her I was from a window company. They would often let me in, we would chat about life, and having new windows fitted. I would tell them if they paid in cash up front the price would be 40% cheaper and they always did. I shamefully conned over 100 old people and made over £100,000. I would like to say I am sorry to each and every one of them'
Sentence: You decide!
Stay out of trouble
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I bet you have - an expression used when you are 100% sure someone has done something
balaclava - like a mask that is worn on your head. It has two holes for the eyes and 1 for the mouth. Used often in cold weather and for window sports under a helmet
robbing a bank - going into a bank and stealing money
getaway car - the car used after a robbery
getaway driver -the driver who drives the getaway car
petty crime - small and not very serious crimes
speeding - the crime of driving too fast
jaywalking - crossing the road when the 'man' is red
fare dodging - using public transport without paying
get arrested - when the police officially take you to the police station
handcuffs - things that go on your hands to restrict your hand movements
police station - a building where police officers are based. There are also cells here
Mugshot - the picture the police take of you when you have been arrested
released - when you are allowed to leave somewhere
caution - an official warning from the police
fined - an amount of money you have to pay for breaking the law or rules
court - a building where verdicts of crimes are decided
a sentence - the official punish of your crime
judge - a person who is in charge of the court.
jury - a group of people who listen to everything that is said in the court. They sometimes come up with a verdict of guilty or not guilty
evidence - all information that says you did or you didn't do something
death row - the place you go before you wait for your capital punishment
upbringing - your childhood
right to bare arms - the legal right to own a gun
firearm - a gun
baton - a long black stick
pepper spray -
taser - like a gun, but used to shock people. It fires electric volts
think twice - to rethink if your actions are a good idea
victim - the person who a crime happens to
suspect - a person who we think did the crime accused - the person who someone said committed the crime
convict - a person who has been found guilty
theft - the crime of when someone steals something from you
give a statement - when you officially tell the police what happened
defence - what the accused says to try and defend their actions
sentence - the punishment given for breaking the law