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date: 01 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The property crimes are among the most familiar, and most complex, criminal offenses. This chapter considers what distinguishes them from other crimes, and from each other. One important characteristic is the degree to which they are dependent on, and work in tandem with, the civil law, including the law of contract, tort, real property, and intellectual property. Some offenses discussed are theft and its constituents (e.g. false pretenses and embezzlement), criminal trespass, and criminal damage, and compound and hybrid offenses (i.e. offenses involving setbacks, or threats, to both proprietary/non-proprietary interests), such as burglary and arson. The problems raised by offenses criminalizing the misappropriation or misuse of intangible and semi-tangible property are covered. The chapter concludes by discussing the complex relationship between the property offenses and social justice, focusing on the use of property law defiance as a means to address social inequities, and the proper punishment for property offenders.

Keywords: property offenses, theft, trespass, arson, burglary, illegal downloading, civil law, criminal law, property law, social injustice

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