penalty

capital punishment

or death penalty

Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment for murder, treason, arson, and rape was widely employed in ancient Greece, and the Romans also used it for a wide range of offenses. It also has been sanctioned at one time or another by most of the world's major religions. In 1794 the U.S. state of Pennsylvania became the first jurisdiction to restrict the death penalty to first-degree murder, and in 1846 Michigan abolished capital punishment for all murders and other common crimes. In 1863 Venezuela became the first country to abolish capital punishment for all crimes. Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty (1867). By the mid-1960s some 25 countries had abolished the death penalty for murder. During the last third of the 20th century, the number of abolitionist countries increased more than threefold. Despite the movement toward abolition, many countries have retained capital punishment, and some have extended its scope. In the U.S., the federal government and roughly three-fourths of the states retain the death penalty, and death sentences are regularly carried out in China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Iran. Supporters of the death penalty claim that life imprisonment is not an effective deterrent to criminal behaviour. Opponents maintain that the death penalty has never been an effective deterrent, that errors sometimes lead to the execution of innocent persons, and that capital punishment is imposed inequitably, mostly on the poor and on racial minorities.

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A fine is money paid usually to superior authority, usually governmenal authority, as punishment for a crime or other offence.

The most usual use of the term, fine, relates to a financial punishment for the commission of minor crimes or as the settlement of a claim. A synonym, typically used in civil law actions, is mulct.

One common example of a fine is money paid for violations of traffic laws. Currently in English Common Law relatively small fines are used either in place of or alongside community service orders for low-level criminal offences. Larger fines are also given independently or alongside shorter prison sentences where the judge or magistrate considers a considerable amount of retribution is necessary but there is unlikely to be significant danger to the public. For instance, fraud is often punished by very large fines since fraudsters are typically debarred from the position or profession they abused to commit their crimes.

Fines can also be used as a form of tax. Money for bail may be applied toward a fine.

A day-fine is a fine that, above a minimum, is based on personal income.

Fines are considered to be a cost-efficient and fair way of punishment for those who commit a non-violent offense. Lengthy prison sentences for minor offenses such as drug possession cost taxpayers more, remove otherwise productive citizens from society, and impose a fear on society as a whole because of over-policing and excessive prosecution.

Fines are counter-productive if the offender commits more offences to get the money to pay the fine.

The effect of a fine is lessened if the money to pay the fine is raised by contributions by the offender's assoociates, or if his family rather than himself go short to save back the lost money.

In England now there is a system whereby the court gives the offender a "fine card" which is somewhat like a credit card; at any shop that has a paying-in machine he pays the value of the fine to the shop, which then uses the fine card to pass that money on to the court's bank account.

Early examples of fines include the Weregild or blood money payable under Anglo-Saxon common law for causing a death. The murderer would be expected to pay a sum of money or goods dependent on the social status of the victim.

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