Decriminalization or Decriminalisation is the abolition of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts, perhaps retroactively, though perhaps regulated permits or fines might still apply (for contrast, see: Legalization). The reverse process is criminalization.

Decriminalization reflects changing social and moral views. A society may come to the view that an act is not harmful, should no longer be criminalized, or is otherwise not a matter to be addressed by the criminal justice system. Examples of subject matter which have been the subject of changing views on criminality over time in various societies and countries include:

While decriminalized acts are no longer crimes, they may still be the subject of penalties; for example a monetary fine in place of a criminal charge for the possession of a decriminalized drug. This should be contrasted with legalization, which removes all or most legal detriments from a previously illegal act.


Drug-use decriminalisation topics

See also


  1. ^ "Forum focuses on polygamy woes". Deseret Morning News. April 25, 2007.,5143,660214924,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • decriminalization — The repeal or amendment of statutes which made certain acts criminal, so that those acts no longer are crimes or subject to prosecution. Category: Criminal Law Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary. Gerald N …   Law dictionary

  • decriminalization — 1945, from DE (Cf. de ) + CRIMINAL (Cf. criminal) + IZE (Cf. ize) + ATION (Cf. ation). Especially in reference to narcotics since c.1968 …   Etymology dictionary

  • decriminalization — (Amer.) n. act of making something legal that was formerly illegal (also decriminalisation) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • decriminalization — decriminalize (also decriminalise) ► VERB ▪ cease to treat (something) as illegal. DERIVATIVES decriminalization noun …   English terms dictionary

  • decriminalization — noun see decriminalize …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • decriminalization — See decriminalize. * * * …   Universalium

  • decriminalization — noun /diːˌkrɪmɪnəlaɪzˈeɪʃən/ The act of making a previously illegal activity no longer treatable as a criminal offence.<!but not the same as legalisation Ant: criminalization …   Wiktionary

  • decriminalization — de·crim·i·nal·iza·tion …   English syllables

  • decriminalization — See: decriminalize …   English dictionary

  • decriminalization — An official act generally accomplished by legislation, in which an act or omission, formerly criminal, is made non criminal and without punitive sanctions …   Black's law dictionary

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