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An individual who has been formally charged with a criminal offense but who has not yet been tried and convicted.

Culprit is a colloquial rather than a legal term and is commonly applied to someone who is guilty of a minor degree of moral reprehensibility. According to Sir William Blackstone, the term is most likely a derivative of the archaic mode of Arraignment during which upon a prisoner's plea of not guilty the cleric would say culpabilis prit, meaning "he is guilty and the crown is ready." The more common derivation is from culpa, meaning "fault or blame."

See: convict, delinquent, embezzler, felon, malefactor

CULPRIT, crim. law. When a prisoner is arraigned, and he pleads not guilty, in the English practice, the clerk, who arraigns him on behalf of the crown, replies that the prisoner is guilty, and that he is ready to prove the accusation; this is done by two monosyllables, cul prit. Vide Abbreviations; 4 Bl. Com. 339; 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 416.

References in periodicals archive ?
Sana Ullah was also called on the spot, who recognized the culprit Mian Basharat.
They said that police was trying to trace the real culprit with help of an ambiguous sketch.
Two of the culprits were arrested at the Muscat International Airport the very next day after they committed the crime.
Expressing his views on the incident, Lalu Prasad, chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) blamed the State Government for not taking immediate action to punish the culprits.
The Culprit and the Cure had a profound impact on me.
So to avoid any association with the curly-haired bloke from Neighbours, I changed it to Culprit One.
Garda Nicola Johnston told prosecuting counsel Des Zaiden BL that three culprits were involved in the robbery of the student which happened at about 8.
The NIOSH list of possible contributing culprits includes chemicals from office materials and mechanical equipment, tobacco smoke, microbiological contaminants and outside air pollutants.
BAHAWALPUR -- Anti-Terrorism Court Bahawalpur has awarded death penalty to a culprit and imprisoned to his two accomplices in a murder case.
This is because the court gives the culprit plenty of time to escape and leave the country.
There's a lot of confusion, but there's no one culprit.