Criminal law
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This article is written by Seep Gupta, a student currently pursuing B.A. LL.B. (Hons) from the Institute of Law, Jiwaji University. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the Relationship of Criminology with Criminal Law


Raju, who is 20 years old, is arrested for the crime of murdering a 15-year-old boy over the minor fight. He is booked under various sections of a criminal statute. He is governed by the various provisions given under the Indian criminal law. But, what triggered him to commit such a heinous crime and how Mens rea (mental element to commit the crime) was developed in his mind. What were the circumstances and situations that provoked him to commit such a heinous crime? These things can only be deduced with the help of criminology.

Criminology and criminal law both are interlinked and inter-related to each other. Criminology deals with the psychology of law and criminal law deals with the crime itself.

Let’s just not dive much deeper into it and without any pause, let’s discuss the gist of the article.

Criminology and Criminal Law

Criminology is a discipline which analyses and gathers the data of crime and criminal behaviour. The word, ‘ology’ in criminology stands for study. The basic aim of criminology is to assess the very nature of the crime, statistics of crime, criminal behaviour that motivates the person to commit a crime and prevention of crimes. Criminology is a very fascinating subject that includes the scientific principles to assess criminal behaviour and psychology behind it. It also deals with the sociological aspects of crime and also explains the reason behind the occurrence of crimes in our society.

Criminology basically is specified into three further branches. These are Sociology which deals with the social aspect of the crimes, criminal aetiology which deals with the causation of crimes and penology which deals with the mechanism of prevention of crimes. The objective of criminology is to provide a codified, organised and structural subject that will try to find the cause of crimes and will ultimately provide ways and remedies on how the crimes can be reduced or eradicated.

Criminology is basically regarded as art or social science because unlike science it does not work on coded or universally defined principles. There is not any proper theory which can be given regarding criminology. 

Criminal law, on the other hand, is basically a subset of principles or legally defined guidelines or code of law which are passed by the political authority of any country and which applies equally to all the members of the society without any prejudicial differences which are enforced by the punishment and which aim to prevent the criminal tendencies that are prevalent in our community. These are general penal sanctions which deter any person to commit any sort of crime. They are just systematic coding principles. The difference between criminal law and other laws are not clear cut. Criminal law defines what can be constituted as crime and thereby prohibits such types of acts. If anyone is guilty of committing such forbidden acts then appropriate penal sanctions are given in the criminal statute. There are various sorts of punishments which are given in the criminal law. Violators of principles given in the criminal statute of any country can be compelled to give hefty fines and have to suffer appropriate punishments too. Crime is anything which is forbidden by the appropriate criminal statute of any country. 

The very basic principles on which any criminal statute works is the evidence. Evidence is the source for proving any criminal offence. It is the very basic foundation to establish any criminal offence. Each state has its own criminal code and procedure in the United States of America.

Difference between Criminology and Criminal Law

Criminology is the study of crimes and other aspects related to it while criminal justice is the application of criminology. The criminal justice system is not one authority. It comprises various multi dictionary units that operate from ground level to the upper elite level. Criminal law seeks to find the causes of crime, enforce laws, investigate the crime, punishes the offenders and provides justice to those who are victims. It also seeks to rehabilitate offenders. A forensic science expert who generally applies forensic science to trace the culprit, he is said to be an expert in both the criminal law and in criminology because he studies and observes the criminal behaviour and also investigates regarding crime-related aspects.

Criminal law and criminology both are related to each other. They both are interlinked. Both criminal law and criminology are required for lawyers and law enforcement agencies who deal with the psychology of criminals and various aspects related to crimes. Criminologists basically focus on the pattern, behaviour and sociological aspects of crimes. They tend to observe the patterns in criminal behaviour.

Criminal justice is an established legal system which investigates crimes, arrests criminals, detains them and prosecutes the guilty ones. Criminal law is directly interlinked to law enforcement agencies because their primary work is to detect the crimes and arrest the people who are suspected of committing any offence. Criminology, on the other hand, is the detailed study of the root cause of the crimes, its origin and also the psychological tendencies of a criminal and the effect of crimes on society and on various parameters. 

Criminal law and criminology are the masters of their own respective domains. They have their own specific niche. Criminal law is associated with the judicial and criminal justice system, juvenile justice system, law enforcement agencies and with correctional institutions such as prisons and rehabilitation centres. The main objective of the criminal law is to arrest the criminals and to provide justice to the justice seekers. It works on a fixed principle.

Criminology is a whole other discipline which seeks to explore the crime and its tendencies from the grass-root level. It not only studies criminal tendencies but also studies the direct effects of crimes on society. It also seeks to study the efficacy of punishment and rehabilitation facilities. 

The relation between Criminology and Criminal Law

As I have already depicted in the former part of my article that criminal law and criminology both play a crucial role in the detection and investigation of crimes. Both are connected and heavily depend on each other to complete each others’ meanings. Criminal law is the study of already established, formulated legal sets of legal principles. These formulated principles are formed upon the basis of studies and statistics which have been gathered by the criminologists over a period of time. The criminal justice system has been heavily influenced by criminology. It has played a major role in advancing many principles of criminal laws.

The objective of criminology is the development of universal formulated sets of principles and definitions regarding crimes, investigation of crimes, treatment of criminals and prevention of crimes. Criminology is also as old as the criminal justice system and it is usually the critique of the law. Criminology does not focus on the criminal justice system and other principles related to criminal law, rather it takes a critical approach on law and how it is used. It places less emphasis on principles related to criminal law and justice. The relation between criminology and criminal law is inexplicable. They generally overlap and overshadow each other’s functions.

Is Criminology good for Criminal Law

Criminology has many branches such as forensic experts, psychological experts, handwriting and fingerprints analysis experts, criminal psychology and many more. During the investigation phase of any crime, there are experts from various fields which are required to solve the mystery of crime and to deduce the specific clue. Often a criminal or an accused leaves various clues or cue cards behind him during the commission of a crime. These signals can only be grasped by the specific person who is an expert in that particular field. Handwriting experts and fingerprints experts can easily deduce whether the particular handwriting belongs to the accused or not. These experts who belong to the various strata from criminology often cut the time and bring us closer towards the solving of a crime mystery. 

Criminal law or criminal justice system uses traditional or conventional methods that usually revolve around the same axis and generally involves the same theories and system which has been there since the bygone. While criminology has been evolving and liberating itself from time and it is up to date and works par with the latest technologies. It has been helpful in solving many famous cases in the world. Criminology uses a number of disciplines such as drawing on methods and techniques that have been developed in both natural and social sciences. 

Criminological research depends on many governmental agencies and other law enforcement agencies for the supply of important data and statistical research to continue their research. The manner and extent of criminological research vary from country to country and in different laws and provisions. The most common data that is used in criminology is the official and government reports. These data are collected by law enforcement agencies through various official research and reports. For example, police collect the data of crimes based on the number of arrests they have made and a number of cases they have investigated. Criminology also predicts future conduct of the person under specific certain conditions. This type of analysis of criminology is known as, ‘Prediction Analysis’. 

Typology method of criminology usually involves the classification of offenders into different categories based on the type of crimes they have committed or similarity between them. These can range from ‘Normal’ to ‘Habitual’. However, this method has more cons and it is not a reliable method. This system was initially developed in Germany and Australia. This system was criticised on the basis that it tends to reduce the complexity of crimes in simpler terms by avoiding the individualistic differences between the offenders. Nevertheless, this system is still used in present times but it is not that in vogue.


Apart from these methods criminology also uses many sociological and psychological theories to deduce the individual behaviour of criminals. It is very useful from the view of criminal justice law. Through these theories, biological and psychological differences of the criminals under various social circumstances can be deduced and this can further prevent the cause and rate of crimes in the future.

Criminology, as it has depicted many times in the above article, is an essential and inseparable part of the criminal law. Hence, this question should not arise in the first place, whether criminology is good for criminal law or not? Without criminology, it would be nearly impossible for law enforcement officers to solve the deep and hidden mysteries of crimes. There is not any involvement of a single factor of criminology in the criminal law rather it revolves around the criminal law. All of these factors depict the inherent complexity of criminology and thus it leads to the conclusion that no single factor can decide the individual behaviour or the root cause of any crime. It’s the amalgamation of many factors that work in synchronisation manner.


Both criminology and criminal law share symbiotic relationships between each other and both are heavily dependent on each other. Many aspects and principles of criminology are directly considered for the investigation of crimes and in other aspects of criminal law. Criminology analyses and researches about the origin of crimes while criminal law applies that principle. Thus, criminology is crucial for criminal law as it is an inseparable and inevitable aspect of criminal law.



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