Malum in se

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malum in se

(mal-uhm in say) adv. Latin referring to an act that is "wrong in itself," in its very nature being illegal because it violates the natural, moral or public principles of a civilized society. In criminal law it is one of the collection of crimes which are traditional and not just created by statute, which are "malum prohibitum." Example: murder, rape, burglary, and robbery are malum in se, while violations of the Securities and Exchange Act or most "white collar crimes" are malum prohibitum. (See: malum prohibitum)

MALUM IN SE. Evil in itself.
     2. An offence malum in se is one which is naturally evil, as murder, theft, and the like; offences at common law are generally mala in sese.
     3. An offence malum prohibitum, on the contrary, is not naturally an evil, but becomes so in consequence of its being forbidden; as playing at games, which being innocent before, have become unlawful in consequence of being forbidden. Vide Bac. Ab. Assumpsit, A, note; 2 Rolle's Ab. 355.

References in periodicals archive ?
A "bright line" between what is prohibited and what is permitted functions very differently depending on whether a prohibited offense is interpreted as malum in se or malum prohibitum.
145) In arguing for the inappropriateness of policies that seek to establish and approach the bright line that defines torture, this Part employs Jeremy Waldron's distinction between a malum in se and a malum prohibitum interpretation of the torture prohibition.
Murder, for instance, is malum in se, inherently contrary to the rule of reason.
However, as England's Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon wrote nearly four centuries ago, not even the king may "make an offense dispunishable which is Malum in se.