Crime and Punishment

Committing a Crime and being arrested:

If you are like me, the answers to these questions are: YES, YES, and much to the disgust of my mother, YES.

crime warningCrime, it’s such a decadent and appealing word! Who hasn’t, at least at one point in their life, wanted to do something illegal!? Who hasn’t wanted to dress up in a leather all-in-one, put on a mask and go out and do bad deeds!? Of course, no one! Everyone has been tempted!

However, don’t get me wrong, illegal activities, in general, are bad and listen up kids: CRIME IS BAD, SAY NO TO DRUGS, SAY NO TO SHOPLIFTING, SAY NO TO VANDALISM, SAY NO TO HOOLIGANISM, AND REPEAT AFTER ME: PRISON IS NEITHER A HOTEL NOR A PART-TIME JOB!

Having said that, without criminals we definitely wouldn’t have the civil liberties or modern ideologies that we take for granted nowadays, for example: democracy, freedom of speech, innocent until proven guilty, and gender equality. Indeed, arguably, without those law-breaking middle class women, the suffragettes, women wouldn’t even be able to vote. So, this begs the question: Is all crime bad? Obviously to me, the answer is NO.

VOCABULARY CHALLENGE: Idioms: The law and crime

crime vocabularyThe law, crime, punishment, criminal activity; how many words?!

Yes, it’s bonkers ( crazy/mental) how much vocabulary we have connected to this topic. So, how many of the words in the word cloud do you know?

Expressions and idioms:
And, there are lots of idioms and expression, oh yes! The following idioms all have their origin in criminal activity but they also have many uses in regular conversations to describe innocent situations.

It's a steal1: A steal
Definition: If something is a steal, it costs much less than it is really worth.
Example: I’ve just bought a flight to London. And, despite the fact that I’m not keen on being 35,000ft up in the sky in a tin can, it was a steal at €30.

2: Daylight robbery
Definition: This idiom is used to say that something is ridiculously expensive, especially when you have no choice but to pay.
Example: From my point of view the cost of electricity in Spain is daylight robbery.

3: To get away with murder
Definition: When you get away with murder, you are not punished for doing something bad.
action man kenExample: When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand dolls and I used to rip apart my dolls and then hunt out my sister’s dolls and rip their head off. Obviously, I had done something very, very bad and my sister was red with rage. However, my mother never punished me; so yes, I used to get away with murder.

Curiously, the only doll I kept was action man Ken. Yep, I wasn’t a girlie girl then and I’m not a girlie girl now.

Do you want to learn some more idioms? No problem, check out this video.


Remembering word patterns is very important if you want to improve your spoken and written accuracy. Personally speaking, the most effective way to do this is to read. However, to get you started here are a few word patterns to help you think like a police officer or a criminal.crime word patterns
crime word patterns 2
BurglaryFor example: on Saturday night, the local police arrested three youths for burglary. They were accused of breaking into a house and stealing a laptop, a digital radio, a mobile phone and a flat screen TV and a cuddly toy. The three suspects claimed that they were not guilty of committing this crime. However, the police officer in charge said that although they might deny burglarising the house because they were caught on camera leaving the house with the stolen goods by a neighbour, they are bound to be found guilty of the crime in a court of law and will be charged with theft.


The English language has a plethora of words to describe different crimes. In addition, we have different words to describe the criminal as well as the action. So, if you need to brush up on your crime vocabulary, here’s a little exercise to help you. Good luck! If you want more vocabulary connected to crime and law enforcement then check out the Downloads section.

Crimes and criminals
Crimes and criminals a



crime-and-punishmentCriminal punishments might include the following:

  1. A fine
  2. Term of imprisonment (time in prison)
  3. Probation (Probation is the suspension of jail time. If you are convicted of a crime, you may be sentenced to probation and allowed to remain living in the community under the supervision of a probation officer)
  4. Parole (Parole is the conditional release of a prisoner before the prison sentence has expired.)
  5. Restitution (repayment) to victims
  6. Capital Punishment (The death penalty)
  7. Community service

Although my mother never really punished me, she wouldn’t give me any pocket money so when I was 16 I had two part-time jobs. I worked in a sweet shop on a Saturday, which for obvious reasons, I was really keen on, and on a Thursday and Friday night I worked at the checkout in a local supermarket which I couldn’t bear. I had to wear a royal blue, polyester overcoat which was so static every time I touched something I got an electric shock.

shop tannoyIn addition, because they thought I had a really posh voice, they always asked me to use the shop tannoy system and say: ’’Good evening shoppers, are you having a lovely time? We have lots of bargains on offer tonight, blah, blah. blah.’’ No, I’m not joking, and, I was only paid minimum wage! Now, that’s a crime against my childhood memories!

READING CHALLENGE: Crimes in Málaga: Drugs, Money Laundering, Planning Offences

Trail StartAll very bad! I say: fine, prison and community service for all of them! That’s right, lock them up!

READING CHALLENGE: Crimes in Málaga: Property Development Crimes

Mayor accusedNow, I’m not sure about this case. Am I correct in thinking that criminal property development is more heinous than violent crimes and sex offences? So, a rapist could get a prison sentence of 6 months and someone who financially profits from an illegal transaction might get 15 years imprisonment. If this is the case, then we have a judicial system which places the value of money and profiteering above the value of humans and human life. Yes, I can hear you all groaning – that’s been obvious since time immemorial!


infamous criminalsThe range of crimes committed across the globe is almost incomprehensible. Some crimes are bizarre, some are horrific and unimaginable, and some are just ridiculous. If you are interested in reading more about the criminal mind and the darker side of life then check out this website which documents the stories of serial killers, murderers, rapists, cannibals, sadists and celebrity defendants. A cannibal, OMG – eating human flesh. Now, if you want to do that, you’ve got serious, serious, SERIOUS ISSUES!

So, it’s time to confess, despite the fact that I AM a law-abiding citizen, I have been arrested twice. Can you guess which crimes I have committed?

  1. Doing a runner at a restaurant
  2. Defrauding the Japanese transport system
  3. Civil disobedience
  4. Violating army property
  5. Shoplifting

Thankfully, for both crimes I was let off with a verbal warning.

READING CHALLENGE: Janette on the criminal trail!
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidIn my opinion not taking time off work is a crime! Indeed, all work and no play make a person as dull as dishwater.
Luckily for me, I have friends who agree with this sentiment and so a number of years ago, two friends and I quit our jobs and bought one-way flights to Mexico.

We had a vague plan about what we wanted to do during our year off including: camping in the Mayan city of Palenque, scuba diving in Belize, trekking to Machu Picchu, flying over the Nasca lines, volunteering on a coffee plantation, speed cycling down the most dangerous road in the world and horseback riding in Bolivia looking for signs of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

As usual on a trip like this, plans change. One of my mates got a bun in the oven and flew home after 3 months, and the other developed a conscience and decided to support a local educational volunteer programme. I, on the other hand, had crime on my mind and so I rented a guide, a horse and some chaps and went in search of the famous bank robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

And, despite the fact that I’m scared stiff of horses and that riding for 3 days across deserts and rocky outcrops with a mental guide whacking the ass of my horse to make it go faster made me start thinking about my will, the experience is definitely one of the most memorable things that I have done in my life.

If you don’t know anything about these two lovable criminals watch the trailer to the award-winning 1969 film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with the hot, hot, HOT actors, Paul Newman and Robert Redford . Seriously, if you have Newman and Redford in your life, you really shouldn’t complain about anything. Yes, they both certainly rock my world!


Boston LegalThe truth is we are all nuts about crime and law enforcement. Furthermore, it is said that the average TV watcher spends more time viewing shows about the law and criminal activity than any other topic. Indeed, my favourite TV series of all time is Boston Legal; a hilarious, well-scripted, ethically dubious show about a law firm set in the Republican city of Boston in the USA. If you want to laugh your pants off, or laugh your head off, then start off by watching the official trailer:

With regards to films, yes, plots with hideous criminal behaviour are definitely my cup of tea.

I loved The Fight Club, Sev7n and The Silence of the Lambs. However, if I had to pick one of these films, I would choose Sev7n. No, not because Brad Pitt is the bomb ( hot) but because the storyline is brilliant and it’s one of the best endings of a film ever, ever written.
What! You’ve never watched any of them! Get yourself in the mood by watching the trailers:

  1. S7even
  2. Fight Club
  3. The Silence of the Lambs

CSI”The body is cold, the case is hot and the crime scene is the key to the killing. Crime scene investigators are a team of forensic scientists who bring crimes back to life. In the city of Las Vegas, between the high rollers and the low lives, between the hidden clues and the varied motives, lies the trail to the truth. The evidence never lies”.

Why didn’t I study to be a CSI? I’m really keen on solving problems, I’ve always wanted to say: ”You’re under arrest, you low life scumbag” and as many of you know, I usually wear black clothes. Seriously, I would make a perfect CSI. I need to go and talk to the Guardia Civil about a part-time job!

LISTENING CHALLENGE: Breaking Bad: Chemistry Teacher Turns Drug Manufacturer

Breaking BadBreaking Bad is one of my all time favourite TV Crime Series. It was recommended to me by my Teckie Knight. And despite the fact that we are like chalk and cheese, he definitely knows my taste in TV. From the opening credits I was hooked on it!!!
The critics say:

  • ”Offbeat and brilliant
  • The best show on Television
  • One of the greatest dramas in TV history
  • Brutal and comedic at the same time”

I say, if you haven’t watched Breaking Bad yet, I’d suggest you take a week off work and learn some chemistry. I haven’t been this addicted to TV since the 1990’s when I was addicted to Twin Peaks.Why not watch the pilot episode?

Don’t fancy watching TV. Ok, how about listening to one of my favourite tracks from the show? Click here for Negro Y Azul: The Ballad of Heisenberg (From “Breaking Bad” TV Series)” by Los Cuates de Sinaloa

SPEAKING CHALLENGE: YOU ARE THE JUDGE – Bribery and a Traffic Offence, Speeding

Judge and Punishment 1

Oops, I can’t remember some of the vocabulary for criminal punishments. No, problem, remind yourself here.

SPEAKING CHALLENGE: YOU ARE THE JUDGE – Hooliganism and Shoplifting

Judge and Punishment 2Oops, I can’t remember some of the vocabulary for criminal punishments. No, problem, remind yourself here.

SPEAKING CHALLENGE: Do you know any Criminals or Victims of Criminal Activity?


  1. Is crime a problem where you live?
  2. Is juvenile crime on the increase in your country?
  3. Do you worry about Internet crime?
  4. Have you ever committed a petty crime?
  5. Have you ever been a victim of crime?
  6. Have you ever reported a crime?
  7. Have you ever witnessed a crime?
  8. How can crime be reduced?
  9. Do you think that prisons work?

common crimesYou have just read an article in a local newspaper about the increase in crime in your local area. The police are asking for advice from local residents about the different ways to prevent crime.

Write a report to the police outlining details about the four most common crimes committed in your local area and provide suggestions on different ways to prevent them.

WRITING CHALLENGE:The Ideal Job: Criminal or Law Enforcer?

catwomanThe British TV broadcaster, Channel 4, is looking for contestants for a new reality TV show about jobs. The first episode asks the question: Would you be a criminal or a law enforcer?

Well, this isn’t a difficult question for me, without a shadow of a doubt, I would be a criminal, specifically Catwoman, because who doesn’t want to look like Michelle Pfeiffer and say any of these lines:

  • ”I don’t know about you Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier!
  • The thought of busting Batman makes me feel, mmmmmm, dirty!”

So, which side of the law would you be on?

Would you choose to be a criminal or would you choose to be part of the judicial system; perhaps a lawyer, a judge, a police officer, a detective or a forensic scientist?

To apply, write a short article to Channel 4 explaining whether you would be a criminal or not.

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