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Criminal Law

A crime is the “conduct which common or statute law prohibits and expressly or impliedly subjects to punishment remissible by the state alone and which the offender cannot avoid by his own act once he has been convicted.” Unlike the Civil law process in South Africa where the standard of evidence required is measured upon the balance of probabilities, the proof of “beyond all reasonable doubt” is used to validate a criminal conviction. In the unlikely event of you being subjected to an arrested by the South African Police, Schoeman Attorneys will be able to assist in the following:

  • Bail applications (formal and informal);
  • First appearances;
  • Assistance on trial and the drafting of all necessary court documents relating to this tedious process;
  • Appointing council for further representation.

Common law offences still applicable within the South African legal system:
(as per SAPS)


Unlawfully taking a minor out of the control of his or her custodian with the intention of enabling someone to marry or have sexual intercourse with that minor.


The unlawful and intentional setting fire to an immovable property belonging to another.


Unlawfully and intentionally:

  • applying force to the person of another;
  • inspiring a belief in another person that force is immediately to be applied to him or her; Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. This is another form of assault, however, committed with the intention to cause serious bodily injury.

Unlawful intentional sexual intercourse between a human being and an animal.


Unlawfully and intentionally entering into what purports to be a lawful marriage ceremony with one person while lawfully married to another.

Contempt of court

unlawfully and intentionally

  • Violating the dignity, repute or authority of a judicial body or a judicial officer in his/her judicial capacity; or
  • Publishing information or comment concerning a pending judicial proceeding which has the tendency to influence the outcome of the proceeding or to interfere with the administration of justice in that proceeding. Crimen Injuria unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person.
Culpable Homicide

Unlawful negligent killing of another human being.


Unlawful and intentional publication of matter that impairs another person’s reputation.

Defeating or obstructing the course of justice

The crime of defeating or obstructing the course of justice consists of unlawfully and intentionally engaging in conduct which defeats or obstructs the course or administration of justice.

Exposing an infant

unlawful and intentional exposure and abandonment of an infant in such a place or in such circumstance that its death from exposure is likely to result.


taking from another some patrimonial or non-patrimonial advantage by intentionally and unlawfully subjecting that person to pressure which induces him or her to submit to the taking.

Forgery and uttering

unlawfully and intentionally making a false document to the actual or potential prejudice of another.
Uttering consists of unlawfully and intentionally passing off a false document (forged) to the actual or potential prejudice of another.


unlawful and intentional making of a misrepresentation which causes actual prejudice or which is potentially prejudicial to another.

High treason

any conduct unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of

  • overthrowing the government of the Republic;
  • coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction;
  • violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the Republic;
  • changing the constitutional structure of the Republic.
  • Housebreaking with intent to commit a crime
  • unlawfully and intentionally breaking into and entering a building or structure with the intention of committing some crime in it.

unlawful and intentional sexual intercourse between male and female persons who are prohibited from marrying each other because they are related within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, affinity or adoptive relationship.

Indecent assault

unlawfully and intentionally assaulting, touching or holding another in circumstances in which either the act itself or the intention with which it is committed is indecent.


unlawfully and intentionally depriving a person of his or her freedom of movement and/or, if such person is a child, the custodians of their control over the child.

Malicious injury to property

Unlawfully and intentionally damaging the property of another.


unlawful and intentional killing of a human being.


unlawful and intentional making of a false statement in the course of a judicial proceeding by a person who has taken the oath or made an affirmation before, or who has been admonished by somebody competent to administer or accept the oath, affirmation or admonition.

Poisoning or administering poison or other noxious substance

unlawfully and intentionally administering poison or other noxious (harmful) substance to another.

Public indecency

unlawfully, intentionally and publicly engaging in conduct which tends to deprave the morals of others, or which outrages the public’s sense of decency.

Public violence

unlawful and intentional commission, together with a number of people, of an act/s which assume serious dimensions and which are intended forcibly to disturb public peace and tranquility or to invade the rights of others.

intentional unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.
Receiving stolen property
The crime of receiving consists of unlawfully receiving possession of stolen property knowing it to have been stolen.

theft of property by intentionally using violence or threats of violence to induce submission to the taking of it from another.


It consists of unlawfully and intentionally
⦁ taking part in a concourse of people violently or by threats of violence challenging, defying or resisting the authority of the State; or
⦁ causing such a concourse.


unlawful appropriation of moveable corporeal property belonging to another with intent to deprive the owner permanently of the property.

Violating a corpse

unlawfully and intentionally violating a corpse.

Violating a grave

unlawfully and intentionally damaging a human grave.