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Legal Dictionary

violence

Legal Definition of violence

Related terms


Definition of violence

Pronunciation

Noun

violence (uncountable)

  1. Extreme force.

    The violence of the storm, fortunately, was more awesome than destructive.

  2. Action intended to cause destruction, pain, or suffering.

    We try to avoid violence in resolving conflicts.

  3. Widespread fighting.

    Violence between the government and the rebels continues.

  4. (figuratively) injustice, wrong.

    The translation does violence to the original novel.

Further reading

Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. Physical violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is likely the culmination of other kinds of conflict, i.e. two countries may war with each other when diplomatic (political) efforts are exhausted, or a victim of emotional violence may "snap" and attempt to kill their tormentor. Such killings may be tried as a lesser crime than first degree murder, taking the circumstances into account and recognising that tolerances can be exceeded driving one form of violence to spawn another in defense.

Worldwide, violence is used as a tool of manipulation and also is an area of concern for law and culture which make attempts to suppress and stop it. The word violence covers a broad spectrum. It can vary from a physical altercation between two beings to war and genocide where millions may die as a result. The Global Peace Index, updated in June 2010, ranks 149 countries according to the "absence of violence".

Law

One of the main functions of law is to regulate violence.

Sociologist Max Weber stated that the state claims, for better or worse, a monopoly on violence practiced within the confines of a specific territory. Law enforcement is the main means of regulating nonmilitary violence in society. Governments regulate the use of violence through legal systems governing individuals and political authorities, including the police and military. Civil societies authorize some amount of violence, exercised through the police power, to maintain the status quo and enforce laws.

However, German political theorist Hannah Arendt noted: "Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate ... Its justification loses in plausibility the farther its intended end recedes into the future. No one questions the use of violence in self-defence, because the danger is not only clear but also present, and the end justifying the means is immediate". Arendt made a clear distinction between violence and power. Most political theorists regarded violence as an extreme manifestation of power whereas Arendt regarded the two concepts as opposites. In the 20th century in acts of democide governments may have killed more than 260 million of their own people through police brutality, execution, massacre, slave labor camps, and sometimes through intentional famine.

Violent acts that are not carried out by the military or police and that are not in self-defence are usually classified as crimes, although not all crimes are violent crimes. Damage to property is classified as violent crime in some [[jurisdictions[[ but not in all.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies violence resulting in homicide into criminal homicide and justifiable homicide (e.g. self defense).

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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