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Know legal terms – part 1

When reporting a crime, it is important to know what crime was committed.

According to Captain Tania Helfrich, local police spokesperson, residents of the West Coast can help police members “do their work more efficiently by having a better understanding of the type of crime that was committed,” and so speed up the process of bring criminals to book.

She says many people don’t understand the difference between crimes such as theft and fraud, burglary and robbery, crimen injuria and defamation, forgery and uttering or abduction and kidnapping.

While some injustices are clearly criminal offences that need to be dealt with by the police, others are more suitable for the civil or labour courts.

“Issues such as complaints about barking dogs and neighbours who play loud music are primarily the responsibility of municipal law enforcement officers,” Helfrich explained.

If you become a victim of one the following offences, please report the crime as defined below, directly to the police:

Abduction consists in unlawfully taking a minor out of the control of his or her custodian with the intention of enabling someone to marry or have sexual intercourse with that minor.

Arson is the unlawful and intentional setting fire to an immovable property belonging to another.

Assault consists of unlawfully and intentionally applying force to another person or inspiring a belief in another person that force is immediately to be applied to him or her.

Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm is another form of assault, however committed with the intention to cause serious bodily injury.

Bestiality is the unlawful intentional sexual intercourse between a human being and an animal.

Bigamy consists of unlawfully and intentionally entering into a lawful marriage with one person while lawfully married to another.

Contempt of court consists in unlawfully and intentionally violating the dignity, repute or authority of a judicial body or judicial officer in his or her judicial capacity, or publishing information or comment concerning a pending judicial proceeding, which has the tendency to influence the outcome of the proceeding or to interfere with the administration of justice in that proceeding.

Crimen iniuria is the unlawful and intentional harming of the dignity or privacy of another person.

Culpable homicide is the negligent killing of another human being.

Defamation consists in unlawful and intentional publication of matter that impairs another person’s reputation.

Defeating or obstructing the course of justice is the crime of defeating or obstructing the course of justice by intentionally engaging in conduct which defeats or obstructs the course or administration of justice.

Exposing an infant is the intentional exposure and abandonment of an infant, that may likely lead to the baby’s death as a result.

Extortion means taking from another some patrimonial or non-patrimonial advantage by intentionally and unlawfully subjecting that person to pressure, which causes him or her to submit to giving on demand.

Forgery is the unlawful and intentional making of a false document to the actual or potential prejudice of another.

Uttering consists of unlawfully and intentionally passing off a false document (forged) to the actual or potential prejudice of another.

Fraud is an intentional misrepresentation that causes actual prejudice, or which is potentially prejudicial to another.

High treason is an act unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of overthrowing the government of the republic; coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction, violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the republic, changing the constitutional structure of the Republic.

Housebreaking with intent to commit a crime is the breaking into and entering a building or structure with the intention of committing some crime in it.

More definitions will be featured in the next edition.

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