site logo


Forensic medicine is also called Medical Jurisprudence or Legal

Medicine, and includes all questions which bring medical matters into

relation with the law. It deals, therefore, with (1) crimes and (2)

civil injuries.

1. A crime is the voluntary act of a person of sound mind harmful to

others and also unjust. No act is a crime unless it is plainly forbidden

by law. To constitute a crime, two circumstances
are necessary to be

proved--(a) that the act has been committed, (b) that a guilty mind or

malice was present. The act may be one of omission or of commission.

Every person who commits a crime may be punished, unless he is under the

age of seven years, is insane, or has been made to commit it under


Crimes are divided into misdemeanours and felonies. The distinction

is not very definite, but, as a rule, the former are less serious forms

of crime, and are punishable with a term of imprisonment, generally

under two years; while felonies comprise the more serious charges, as

murder, manslaughter, rape, which involve the capital sentence or long

terms of imprisonment.

An offence is a trivial breach of the criminal law, and is punishable

on summary conviction before a magistrate or justices only, while the

more serious crimes (indictable offences) must be tried before a jury.

2. Civil injuries differ from crimes in that the former are

compensated by damages awarded, while the latter are punished; any

person, whether injured or not, may prosecute for a crime, while only

the sufferer can sue for a civil injury. The Crown may remit punishment

for a crime, but not for a civil injury.