The paper examines nominative units of English legal discourse employing cognitive-conceptual approach. Indeed, frame analysis is one of the topical issues of cognitive linguistics and it is the basis of determining lexical and nominative units of the language. Therefore, in this work, the frame structure of the concept «CRIME» was formed along with the subconcepts and their supporting slots. The author also puts emphasis on the «Names of crime» subframe in order to carry out in-depth study on the specific crimes.
Keywords: legal discourse, nominative units, criminal law, crime, frame analysis, concept, subconcept, slots, structure.
Criminal law is an independent branch of the English legal system, the norms of which are intended to prosecute a crime. But what exactly is meant by the term «crime» in English jurisprudence remains a complex and controversial debate to this day. In general, criminal law can now be regarded as a certain type of behavior which society and the state find punishable. In English criminal law crime is considered as harm caused to the state and public interests [1, p. 211], and an act or omission punishable by the state or federal government through the enforcement of its criminal law [2, p. 2]. The concept of CRIME is undoubtedly a central point in the frame of criminal law, and the term itself is also a self-contained frame structure consisting of subframes or concepts according to the frame analysis. Accordingly, it can be said that in criminal law any act or omission can be considered as crime if all the necessary elements provided by the norms of criminal law are observed. This means that each crime is classified by a certain set of elements, and the sum of them is called CORPUS DELICTI in English criminal law. Corpus delicti (lat. body of a crime-the body (material substance) upon which a crime has been committed) is the composition or evidence that proves the commission of a crime. For example, in English law, a person can not be charged with the crime of larceny until there is evidence of theft of property. In turn, the corpus delicti consists of two main elements known as ACTUS REUS and MENS REA. Actus reus — is the guilty act or a criminal action, whereas mens rea is a mental state or a general intention to commit a crime. Hence, crime must hold both the criminal act and the mental state so as to be called a crime in criminal law [3, p. 314]. A. Romanov states that if actus reus does not exist, there will be no criminal liability. Criminal law is aimed at controlling the behavior and not the thoughts of individuals [4, p. 211]. For instance, if we talk about a crime like murder, then this should be malice aforethought. Since theft is committed with dishonest intent it is not allowed to accuse a person of stealing someone’s property thinking that it is his. In the process of classification of the CRIME frame, the following basic concepts were distinguished: corpus delicti, element, actus reus and mens rea .
Observations have shown that the types of crime differ from each other depending on their nature and level of social danger. As a result, they can be categorized into specific groups based on these characters. First of all, the structure of the crime frame consists of the types of crimes that fall into groups such as malum in se and malum prohibitum . Malum in se is an offense that is evil or wrong from its own nature irrespective of statute including kidnapping, child abuse, theft, adultery, burglary, assault, battery and others . Malum prohibitum is an act that is wrong solely because prohibited by law [6, 175]. Unlike malum in se, such offenses are not considered as a crime but they are defined as a criminal act by a relevant decision of the authorities such as gambling, speeding, possession of a controlled substance, disorderly conduct, a failure to pay income taxes and others. Clearly, such crimes are committed by a specific person, and in English criminal law the term criminal is used to describe a person who has committed a criminal act . Criminal is one who has committed a criminal offense; one who has been legally convicted of a crime; one adjudged guilty of a crime [8, 447]. Apparently, any person who commits an illegal act belongs to this category, and a special term is used for such persons, depending on the type of crime. For example: thief, burglar, gambler, kidnapper, murderer, briber, hooligan, spy, shoplifter, arsonist, smuggler, terrorist, assassin, fraudster and so on. In addition, crimes can be divided into types such as felonies , misdemeanours and infractions in the frame structure according to the degree of social danger and severity of punishment. Felonies are very serious crimes that are usually committed with a malicious purpose that can lead to serious consequences (death, serious bodily injury, destruction of property). Such offenses are therefore considered as the most serious offenses in English criminal law, and any penalty can be imposed depending on the jurisdiction and the offense. Misdemeanours differ from felonies as their outcome is less extreme and the degree of social danger is relatively low. This type of offense is usually punishable by a fine, rehabilitation, short-term imprisonment, and other less severe punishments. Infractions (also called violations) are less serious crimes in terms of social danger, and for such offenses lighter punishments (mostly fines) are given such as fines for pedestrians violating the rules of the road, and so on. Thus, the frame structure of CRIME can be described as follows:
Subframe types of crime
–malum in se
–main concepts corpus decilti
Subframe names of crime (arson, murder etc.)
When it comes to the names of crime subframe, it can be said that this subframe covers a wide classification of crime types and names. In this case, the classification of a crime into one or another type is based on the concept of criminal qualification. This qualification is the basis for determining the exact relevance of the criminal act committed to the elements of the crime under the criminal law. Accordingly, crimes are classified as follows:
- Concept « crimes against persons »
homicide; murder; manslaughter; attempted murder; abortion; assault; battery; mayhem (maim)/grievous bodily harm; domestic violence; kidnapping; intimidation; stalking; bullying; rape; incest; sexual harassment; threats; enslavement/slavery; human trafficking; unlawful arrest
- Concept « crimes against property & economic crimes »
arson; vandalism; burglary; embezzlement; bribery; larceny; robbery; theft; extortion/blackmail; shoplifting; fraud; copyright infringement; false pretenses; forgery; money laundering; tax evasion
- Concept « crimes against public order and morality »
disorderly conduct; pornography; prostitution; rioting or inciting riots; public indecency; bigamy; adultery; driving under the influence; unlawful assembly; controlled substances; drunkenness; illegal gambling
- Concept « crimes against the state and justice »
treason; espionage; terrorism; voter fraud; inciting civil war; assassination of public servants; breach of State secrets; perjury; contempt of court; the escape of prison
supporting conceptual apparatus
perpetrator, offence, crime, commission, omission, harm, actus reus, mens rea, charge, suspect, felony, misdemeanor, punishment, malice aforethought, apprehension, motive, guilt, heat of passion;
It is understood that « names of crime » concept can be viewed on the one hand as a subframe of the CRIME frame structure, and on the other hand as a frame that attaches several concepts to its structure, and in turn these concepts are subframes consisting of a certain number of slots. Accordingly, each frame and subframe has its own internal structure, the elements of which are reflected in the complex configuration of slots. Therefore, each single slot can be considered as a separate independent frame. For example, each crime in the names of crime frame can be an independent frame for the presence of interrelated conceptual elements that form the corpus delicti, the degree of social danger and other reasons.
In conclusion, in determining the nominative units of criminal law in the English legal discourse, it is important to establish the structure of the CRIME frame, and if we consider any illegal act as a crime, we can characterize its structure with the main concepts ( corpus decilti, actus reus, mens rea, element, criminal ). Also, this frame covers independent subframes ( types of crime ; names of crime ). A more detailed study of names of crime counselling as a separate frame reveals subconcepts such as « crimes against persons », « crimes against entirety & economic crimes», «crimes against public order & morality » and « crimes against the state & justice » in this structure, and allows them to identify specific crime names.
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