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Causes the Murder and Homicide


Murder as well as homicide is one of the most serious violent crimes that often has detrimental effects for all stakeholders involved. Clearly, it is essential to understand what causes the crime to be able to prevent it. Numerous theories explaining the nature and causes of different crimes exist. A new theory addresses causes of murder and homicide. This theory pertains to the group of biosocial theories. The new theory is the Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination.

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According to this theory, social environment and circumstances in which an individual lives have the primary impact on his/her decision or ability to commit such serious crime as murder. At the same time, genetic predisposition to violent behavior is also crucial. Some people are unlikely to kill another person even if they find themselves in a very difficult situation. Whereas, some people may be able to kill a person even if the circumstances are absolutely common. Briefly, it is possible to state that murder is often a result of genetic predisposition combined with unfavorable social environment.

Validity of the Theory

The Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination is valid due to extensive data obtained during years of research. In the first place, it is necessary to emphasize social element of the theory. Thus, in developed countries crime rates are much lower than in countries of the third world. For instance, the index of homicide cases for people between 10 and 29 in the USA is 11 while in Columbia the same index is 84.4 and in Japan it is only 0.4 and this is the lowest rate of homicide in the world (Walsh, 2011). Clearly, the wellbeing of people in the country is closely linked to the rate of homicide. It is obvious that people living in developing countries (as well as in many areas of developed countries) find themselves in situations where they cannot find another way out and have to kill (for example, to defend themselves or their close ones, or to get away from some burden and so on). As far as the USA is concerned, it is clear that some groups of people are prone to violent behavior and it is possible to trace social as well as genetic roots in this. Thus, 89.7% of murderers are males where 49.3% are black, 48.7% are white, 2% are other races. At that, it is important to note that Hispanics are regarded as white in FBI recording (Walsh, 2011).

Lilly, Cullen and Ball (2014) note that it has been acknowledged that social and economic issues account for the vast majority of murders and homicide. Underprivileged groups are especially vulnerable and prone to violent behavior. It is also important to mention that people attitude towards some groups of people (ethnic minorities, homeless, immigrants, former inmates and so on) or individuals may be negative and these groups may be stigmatized, which leads to their further alienation and worsening of their socioeconomic status.

At the same time, recent advances in genetics provide extensive data that explain violent behavior, ability to kill, antisocial behavior and so on (Lilly et al., 2014). Researchers have found reasons for development of psychological and developmental disorders and there is a vivid link between these diseases and committing a crime. It is necessary to note that genetic element is also very important, as it is the basis that can be modified by the environment. Some theorists note that biological aspect is also very important.

Thus, Siegel (2010) notes that researchers pay much attention to biochemical conditions, which are not directly linked to genetic features of people. For instance, substance abuse is one of major causes of homicide as well as murder and there is not a gene responsible for substance abuse. At the same time, it has been acknowledged that some people are more predisposed to various addictions due to certain genomes. Siege (2010) states that researchers have found that brain structure has a direct effect on the way people behaves and the extent to which the person is ready to commit a crime. It is necessary to note that the two elements of the theory are very important but social aspect is decisive.

Nature and Extent of Crime

A has been mentioned above, homicide and murder are the most serious crimes. Siegel (2010) notes that people take these crimes very seriously, which is evident trough the fact that murder is the only crime that can be punished by execution. It is necessary to note that homicide is a broader term that includes killing a person in self-defense, manslaughter or killing a person as one’s duty (soldier, police officer and so on). Homicide can be felonious and non-felonious. Felonious homicide is classified as murder while non-felonious homicide can be justified and excusable.

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Murder can be defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought” (Siegel, 2010, p. 265). Two degrees of murder are identified: first- and second-degree murder. First-degree murder is killing a person “after premeditation and deliberation” (Siegel, 2010, p. 265). In other words, murder is killing that occurred as a result of considerations and/or planning. It also involves certain motivations (money, sexual interest, revenge and so on). Second-degree murder can often be seen as manslaughter when a person killed another individual unintentionally.

Another important type of murder is felony murder that implies unintentional killing of a person that happened as a result of committing another crime (robbery, burglary and so on). Mass and spree murder involve many victims and are usually regarded as first-degree murders. It is necessary to add that all the details are taken into account when considering the crime and providing a decision on punishment.

Siegel (2010) states that social and ecological factors are closely connected with murder. According to recent data, 43.9% of murders involved strangers, in 30.2% victims were acquainted with the killer and in 13.6% of cases they were family members (Walsh, 2011, p. 168). It also shows that in the majority of cases, felony murder occurred. It is possible to assume that it is closely connected with people’s social and genetic features. Some people have genetic predisposition to kill while some people decide to kill (or unintentionally kill) to respond to some circumstances. Thus, the high rate of felony murders shows that this assumption is correct. It is also necessary to add that the rate of crime has decreased and one of the reasons for that improving economic and social situation in the USA. The US economy is growing and the society is becoming more open and tolerant (so fewer people become stigmatized and enclosed in the vicious circle).

Typologies of Crime

It is necessary to note that the Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination addresses many types of crime. For instance, when it comes to property crimes, the theory explains the cause of the crime. Thus, property crimes are often caused by financial issues of the offender (Walsh, 2011). At the same time, many people simply are not able to take property of other people due to their characters. Some say that it is people’s upbringing but upbringing may only shape a person’s character without changing the person’s nature.

As for violent crimes, they are mainly caused by genetic predisposition. Likewise, crimes of passion as well as personal crimes are mainly caused by genetic predisposition though the environment can also lead to these offences. When it comes to political crimes, they are mainly caused by social environment but, of course, only a person who has certain features can act. Thus, a person who is ready to stand up to some political agendas can commit a crime. At the same time, only a person living in specific environment will feel that those issues are important enough to take certain action and break the law.

As far as crimes against person are concerned, they are also usually caused by social issues and genetic predisposition. For instance, rape or abuse are often caused by the offender’s desire to reveal his/her power or make the other person suffer (Walsh, 2011). Clearly, genetic predisposition plays the crucial role, as some people are unable to cause suffering to another individual while others are haunted by desire to cause pain. Apart from that, social issues also play an important role. Thus, a person may be neglected by the society and lack proper communication. This contributes to development of various ideas and desires in the individual who eventually becomes an offender.

White collar and public order crimes can also be explained with the help of the theory. In the first place, modern society is based on the principle of success and power. People strive for success and are often ready to go an extra mile to achieve it. Some people (those who have genetic predisposition) are even ready to break the law to fit into the society of winners. More so, various stories told by Hollywood, real-life stories revealed in newspapers suggest that people accept that some laws may be broken. Even though the public opinion holds it that white-collar crimes are bad, as they cause losses for many people, lots of white-collar employees do not share this view. Therefore, it is quite clear that the theory in question addresses all types of crimes.

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Traditional Theories of Crime

It is possible to state that the Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination is a combination and certain kind of extension of Social Disorganization Theory, Strain Theory and Behavior Genetics. Two major elements of the new theory are social environment (people surrounding the person, upbringing, values shared by the majority and so on) and genetic predisposition (a set of genes that are responsible for violent behavior and so on).

The Social disorganization theory is based on the assumption that social environment is responsible for people’s behavior. In other words, it implies that if a person lives in a low-income neighborhood and his/her family members and friends have criminal history, the person is likely to become a criminal due to lack of employment opportunities and so on. Strain theory is quite similar to the one mentioned above as it is concerned with environment and opportunities (Siegel, 2010). According to this theory, all people have similar aspirations and qualities, but some people may lack opportunities and they are ready to break the law to achieve success to become a part (a respectable member) of the society. These features are employed when developing the theory in question. Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination also considers environment as one of the most important factors that affect people’s behavior as people live within a society and they are social creatures who strive for being fully integrated into the society or, at least, some part of it, for example, a sub-culture and so on.

The theory of Behavior Genetics has not acquired significant attention yet (Walsh, 2011). According to this theory, people have certain genes as well as hormones that are responsible for certain kind of behavior (violent behavior, predisposition to addictions, distorted morality and so on). The theory in question also relies heavily on genetics, as social environment cannot be the only existing reason as criminals may come from different backgrounds. Criminals can come from rich families and they can have favorable conditions for development into a member of the society that shares all the values. Therefore, environment only partially affects (though, in many cases it can be a primary reason) people’s behavior. Some people have certain features of character that make them more violent, or more cunning and more prepared to break the law.

It is necessary to note that these three theories are a good background for creation of a more sophisticated theory while some theories are very inaccurate and outdated. For instance, Rational Choice theory seems quite reasonable as people (in the majority of cases) do consider possible positive and negative outcomes of their actions. However, the theory does not explain why exactly in this or that situation this or that individual makes a choice to break the law. This theory is rather too broad. Labelling theory is quite vague though it has some grains of reason, as it is tied to the Social disorganization theory as environment is seen as the primary factor. The Trait theory heavily relies on biological features and underestimates social environment, which makes it quite inaccurate.


In conclusion, it is possible to note that the Theory of Sociologically Genetic Predetermination can contribute to development of the judicial system as well as the entire society. The use of the theory will enable people to understand the nature of different types of crime as well as their causes. This, in its turn, will help predict and even prevent certain crimes. It is necessary to add that the theory is far-reaching and it does not imply specific attention to particular groups of people (certain ethnic groups, age groups and so on). According to the theory, a criminal can be a part of any part of the US society. Therefore, no groups are stigmatized, which positively affects development of the society as people are given more opportunities. Thus, Hispanic people and African Americans as well as other minorities will (eventually) be able to get better jobs as they will not be seen as criminals or potential criminals. Fewer hazardous circumstances will be created in the society and more people will be able to remain law-abiding citizens.

Reference List

Lilly, J.R., Cullen, F.T., & Ball, R.A. (2014). Criminological theory: Context and consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Siegel, L. (2010). Criminology: The core. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Walsh, A. (2011). Criminological: The essentials. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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