Victimless Crimes & justice system

Victimless crimes are defined as criminal activities that do not compel individuals to be victims of particular crimes. This means that police investigation and the justice system cannot establish enough evidences or arguments to implicate the crime to injuries or damages to individuals that would dub them as victims of criminal activities.

(“Victimless Crimes,” 2008) Another term used to describe victimless crimes is consensual or permissive crime, such that other individuals or parties involved who might and should be identified as victims consent to the criminal activity allowing it to occur even under immoral and inappropriate circumstance. With this in mind, a clear example of a victimless crime is prostitution. (Farley & Maralek, 2008)

Although prostitution is considered to be a victimless crime, criticisms have been made about the soundness of considering some criminal activities to be victimless crimes – that is never inflicting pain, injuries, and other forms of damages to other human beings despite the immorality or unlawfulness of criminal activities. Calling victimless crimes, most especially prostitution is questionable based on the conditions of societal norms and mores (“Victimless Crimes,” 2008), as well as other laws, such as the universal human rights.

The remainder of this text will discuss the concepts underlying the labeling of prostitution as a victimless crime, and the conditions of prostitution that regard victimless crimes to be products of myth, and the role of the criminal justice system and other law enforcement institutions in dealing with this particular crime. Prostitution is considered as a victimless crime due to the inclination of prostitutes to consent to sexual activities in exchange for money.

Crime offenders, in their defense, look at prostitution like any other services that allows them to rent things or services – such as renting cars, rooms, books, movies, etc. – with the only difference that the merchandise or good being rented is a human being. Since the transaction is mutual, such that prostitutes allow their clients to pay for their personal services, it is considered a victimless crime. (Farley & Maralek, 2008) Although this is the case in that prostitution is taken straightforwardly like a “rental business,” it seems dissolute to continuously consider it that way.

It seems natural even, for human beings to look at it as an immoral act as social conventions and established rights of human beings do not condone the act as a simple crime with no possible pain, injury, or damages that might affect prostitutes. Looking at the issue on an ethical perspective, prostitution is not considered a victimless crime but the opposite. In fact, there are various evidences that prove it to be otherwise. For instance, a series of criminal activities establish prostitution.

Prostitution as a whole involves various criminal activities that are often serious wreaking severe repercussions to society. Prostitution does not only involve women who are of legal age, but children as well. In this case, prostitution violates the anti-child sex trafficking laws. Aside from this crime, prostitution sometimes involves drug trafficking and use as well as identity theft. Sometimes, individuals take advantage of the vulnerable and needy situation of prostitutes by selling them narcotics to handle their situations.

Moreover, prostitutes, especially those who are still minors, sometimes use different identities to conceal their true age. (Morgan Hill Editorial Board, 2008) If some criminal activities precede prostitution, such as drug trafficking and use as well as identity theft, law enforcement institutions also identify some criminal activities that follow such as rape, sexual assault and harassment, physical and verbal abuse, and such.

These criminal activities usually happen during contact between the prostitute and the client. In this case, prostitution becomes a way or opportunity for individuals to commit other criminal activities leaving prostitutes as victims of these crimes. (Morgan Hill Editorial Board, 2008) As prostitution becomes a motivation for committing crimes, and leads to the execution of other serious crimes that are punishable law, the condition or terms of prostitution does not meet the criteria of victimless crimes.

In addition, looking at it directly on the perspective of prostitutes, the act of condoning criminal activity does not necessarily mean that they are not harmed by being involved with the crime and that they truly agree or accept it as their profession. Most of the time, prostitutes cling to their jobs due to economic reasons and that it is no way related to their desire to sell their body for money. Due to this, prostitutes suffer mentally and emotionally from the experience so it is not reasonable or fair-minded to assume that prostitution does not harm or injure individuals.

(Farley and Maralek, 2008) Due to the assertions presented above, it is but rational for law enforcement agencies and society to eliminate the concept of victimless crimes as criminal activities whether they are tolerated or not are still crimes which are unacceptable to laws and society. Therefore, this means that there will be always be individuals or institutions that will be affected by criminal activities, eliminating the possibility of calling them victimless crimes.

To validate and support the decriminalization of victimless crimes, the justice system should be able to legally enforce morality as a judicial concept. (Schur & Bedau, 19674) This means that legal considerations should include morality and ethics as determinants of verdicts and decisions when it comes to approaching previously resolved and labeled victimless crimes as it is clearly an erroneous concept.


  • Farley, M. & Maralek, V. (2008). The Myth of the Victimless Crime. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from The New York Times. Website: http://www.nytimes. com/2008/03/12/opinion/12farley. html? _r=1&oref=slogin
  • Morgan Hill Editorial Board. (2008). Prostitution is not a Victimless Crime. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from MainStreet Media Group. Website: http://www. morganhilltimes. com/opinion/250660-prostitution-is-not-a-victimless-crime
  • Scher, E. M. & Bedau, H. (1974). Victimless Crimes: Two Sides of a Controversy. New York, NY: Prentice Hall. “Victimless Crimes. ” (2008). Retrieved November 26, 2008, from Farlex, Inc. Website: