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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 classic literature ?
As the chief slowly uttered these words, pausing impressively between each sentence, the culprit raised his face, in deference to the other's rank and years.
The unhappy culprit sustained herself as best a woman might, under the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes, all fastened upon her, and concentrated at her bosom.
The prudent housekeeper was again dispatched to bring the unhappy culprit before Mr Allworthy, in order, not as it was hoped by some, and expected by all, to be sent to the house of correction, but to receive wholesome admonition and reproof; which those who relish that kind of instructive writing may peruse in the next chapter.
Petritsky, whom he liked, was implicated in the affair, and the other culprit was a capital fellow and first-rate comrade, who had lately joined the regiment, the young Prince Kedrov.
I am the culprit," a familiar voice answered from the depths of an easy-chair, whose back was to her.
Two culprits, Shah Hussain and Aziz Jamal have been given prison time of 14 years each.
The bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the suo motu notice regarding non arrest of culprits of minor girl rape case, at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.
BUNER -- The police have traced the alleged culprits involved in the murder of Niaz Ali of village Mullayousaf here on Friday.
The woman had gone to meet the culprits at a hotel in Karol Bagh where she was gang raped," Deputy Commissioner of Police Parmaditya told IANS.
The culprits, aged in their 20s, tried to take apart a vehicle in Sr - but fled in a minivan when they were spotted.
April 12, 2013 (JUBA) -- South Sudan's government has announced to prosecute the potential culprits who have cheated the government hundreds of millions of US dollars in the so-called Dura saga.
The victim said that she filed a FIR to the police regarding this following which the police arrested the two culprits but later released them.