Criminal law is based on prohibiting acts considered to be criminal and punishing people for committing those acts. A criminal act is any behavior or act society decides should be punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both. The current criminal law system in the United States comes from old British common law. However, the crimes are also separated into criminal acts society believes are wrong and those wrong because of a local, state, or federal statute.
Mala in se, which is the plural of malum in se, are criminal acts that are wrong because they violate the moral, public, or natural principles of a society. In the traditional British criminal justice system that the American justice system is based on, crimes that offended society were punished by death or serious harm. Today, mala in se crimes are not traditionally punishable by death, but still face serious sentences.
Crimes in this category include heinous criminal acts such as:
Mala prohibita crimes are criminal acts that are wrong because they violate a statute or law rather than being an action that harms or offends society. Most of the time, mala prohibita crimes are less severe than mala in se crimes. For example, a parking violation, tax fraud, and copyright violation are all considered to be mala prohibita crimes.
Mala in se criminal acts do not normally include white collar crimes. This is because white collars crimes are non-violent crimes committed for business or financial gain. Thus, they typically are classified as mala prohibita crimes.
Mala in se crimes are extremely serious because you face time in prison and hefty fines. Contact a criminal attorney to determine the best defense to use against your mala in se criminal charges.