corpus delicti

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Corpus Delicti

[Latin, The body of the crime.] The foundation or material substance of a crime.

The phrase corpus delicti might be used to mean the physical object upon which the crime was committed, such as a dead body or the charred remains of a house, or it might signify the act itself, that is, the murder or Arson.

The corpus delicti is also used to describe the evidence that proves that a crime has been committed.

corpus delicti

n. (corpus dee-lick-tie) Latin for the substantial fact that a crime has been committed, and in popular crime jargon, the body of the murder victim.

corpus delicti

‘the body of an offence’, the essential facts that constitute the crime. Thus, it is not the corpse in a murder trial although a dead body is one of the facts that constitute the corpus delicti.

CORPUS DELICTI. The body of the offence; the essence of the crime
     2. It is a general rule not to convict unless the corpus delicti can be established, that is, until the dead body has been found. Best on Pres. Sec. 201; 1 Stark. Ev. 575, See 6 C. & P. 176; 2 Hale, P. C. 290. Instances have occurred of a person being convicted of having killed another, who, after the supposed criminal has been put to death for the supposed offence, has made his appearance alive. The wisdom of the rule is apparent; but it has been questioned whether, in extreme cases, it may not be competent to prove the basis of the corpus delicti by presumptive evidence. 3 Benth. Jud. Ev. 234; Wills on Circum. Ev. 105; Best on Pres. Sec. 204. See Death.

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