Home Definition Mala Prohibita

Mala Prohibita [Legal Definition: All You Need To Know]

What is the legal definition of mala prohibita?

How do you legally define it?

What are some examples?

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Mala Prohibita Meaning

What is mala prohibita?

The phrase Mala Prohibita, in Latin, means “wrong because it is prohibited”.

In American criminal law, you have two types of crimes:

  • Mala prohibita
  • Mala in se 

When the law or statute declares a certain act or behavior to be wrong even though the behavior, in itself, may not be considered as wrong, you are dealing with a mala prohibita offenses.

For example, if you are driving 10 or 20 miles above the speeding limit, the act is not morally wrong or evil in itself but is prohibited as the law declared it to be a punishable offense.

Typically, mala prohibita acts do not violate morally accepted standards, are not evil or unconscionable but are wrong on the basis of the legal prohibition.

This can be contrasted with Mala In Se acts where such acts are wrong as they are evil or wrong if of themselves.

For example, murder is a mala in se act as the act, in itself, is morally wrong or so clearly in violation of proper societal standards. 

In essence, a mala prohibita crime is a victimless type of crime whereas mala in se crimes are crimes against the society where there is a victim

Mala Prohibita Definition

How do you define mala prohibita?

Mala Prohibita is Latin for “wrong because it is prohibited”.

The plural of Mala Prohibita is Mala Prohibitum.

When an act or conduct is declared illegal by law (although not necessarily immortal in of itself), you have an act that is wrong because it is prohibited by law.

Mala Prohibita Crimes

What are some examples of mala prohibita crimes?

There are many criminal acts or torts that can be qualified as malum prohibitum as they are wrong because in virtue of the law or statute prohibiting them or declaring them to be punishable in some form or fashion.

Here are some examples to illustrate the point:

  • Copyright infringement
  • Illegal hunting
  • Doing business without a license
  • Driving a car without a license
  • Fraternization
  • Indecent exposure 
  • Jaywalking
  • Hitchhiking
  • Parking violations 
  • Pornography 
  • Resisting arrest
  • Trespassing
  • Use of drugs

Mala prohibitum sentence 

How important is it to classify a particular crime as a mala prohibita?

Typically, the classification of a crime as an act prohibited by law or an act morally wrong is not that relevant when it comes to punishment or sentencing.

What’s important is to consider what type of punishment the law has mandated for the courts to issue when someone commits an act that is a mala prohibita crime.


So what is the legal meaning of Mala prohibita crimes?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Mala Prohibita:

  • “Mala Prohibita” is a Latin phrase that can be translated as “wrong because it is prohibited”
  • In the plural, you say Mal Prohibitum 
  • Acts, behavior, conduct or crimes that violate the law but are not immoral are mala prohibita crime examples
  • These acts can be contrasted with “mala in se” acts where they are actions or crimes that are morally wrong or evil in of themselves 
Assault and battery
Criminal evidence 
Criminal fraud
Criminal law
Criminal lawyer 
Criminal procedure
Duty of care
Gun possession 
Mala in se
Probation and parole
Public policy 
Tax evasion
Tort reform
Types of crimes 
White-collar crimes
Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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