[IELTS Vocabulary] Crime and Punishment

This vocabulary list is for reference only. Your Lexical Resource scores are calculated based on the overall level of vocabulary used in your writing and speaking answers. To improve your Lexical Resource scores, it is necessary that you improve your overall level of vocabulary.

However, skillfully incorporating these words in your writing and speaking answers together with a good vocabulary level will increase the chance of enhanced Lexical Recourse scores.

Words and phrases

Word/PhraseTypeMeaningExample
AdjudicateVerbTo make a formal judgment or decision in a legal caseThe judge will adjudicate the dispute between the parties.
Appellate courtNoun phraseHigher court that reviews decisions of lower courtsThe appellate court overturned the lower court’s decision.
Circumstantial evidenceNoun phraseEvidence that suggests a fact but does not prove it directlyThe case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence.
ConvictionNounA formal declaration of guilt by a courtThe defendant’s conviction was based on compelling evidence.
DisbarVerbTo remove someone from the practice of lawThe unethical conduct led to the lawyer being disbarred.
ExonerationNounThe action of officially absolving someone from blameThe exoneration came after new evidence was discovered.
ExtraditionNounThe surrender of an accused or convicted individual to another jurisdictionThe extradition process involves complex legal procedures.
Grand juryNoun phraseA panel of citizens that reviews evidence and decides whether to indict a suspectThe grand jury returned an indictment against the defendant.
ImpartialAdjectiveNot biased or prejudicedThe judge ensured an impartial trial by excluding biased jurors.
IndictmentNounA formal charge or accusation of a serious crimeThe indictment was handed down by the grand jury.
JurisprudenceNounThe theory or philosophy of lawStudying jurisprudence helps understand legal principles.
Mitigating circumstancesNoun phraseFactors that may reduce the severity of a punishmentThe judge considered the defendant’s remorse as a mitigating circumstance.
PerjuryNounThe offense of willfully lying under oathThe witness was charged with perjury for providing false testimony.
Pro bonoAdjectiveDone or undertaken without charge, especially for the public goodThe lawyer offered pro bono legal services to low-income clients.
RacketeeringNounThe operation of an illegal business for personal profitThe organization was involved in racketeering and money laundering.
RestitutionNounCompensation or payment for damages or lossesThe court ordered the defendant to pay restitution to the victims.
SubpoenaNoun/VerbA writ ordering a person to attend a courtThe attorney subpoenaed the witness to testify at the trial.
TestimonyNounA formal written or spoken statement given under oathThe witness provided compelling testimony during the trial.
Vicarious liabilityNoun phraseLegal responsibility for the actions of anotherEmployers can be held vicariously liable for their employees’ actions.
White-collar crimeNoun phraseNonviolent crimes typically committed by business professionalsThe investigation uncovered a complex network of white-collar crime.

Common types of crimes

Word/PhraseTypeMeaningExample
ArsonNounDeliberate setting fire to propertyArson is a serious crime that endangers lives and property.
AssaultNounAct of inflicting physical harm or injuryAssault can range from minor altercations to serious attacks.
BurglaryNounUnlawful entry into a building to commit theft or felonyBurglary involves breaking into homes or businesses.
CybercrimeNounCriminal activity conducted through digital meansCybercrime includes hacking, identity theft, and online fraud.
Domestic violenceNoun phraseAbuse or violence within a domestic or intimate relationshipDomestic violence survivors often require support and protection.
Drug traffickingNoun phraseIllegal distribution and sale of controlled substancesDrug trafficking is a serious offense with severe penalties.
EmbezzlementNounTheft or misappropriation of funds by a person entrusted with themEmbezzlement occurs when someone abuses their position of trust.
FraudNounDeception for financial or personal gainFraudulent schemes often target unsuspecting individuals.
Hate crimeNoun phraseCriminal offense motivated by bias or prejudiceHate crimes target individuals based on race, religion, or other factors.
HomicideNounKilling of one person by anotherHomicide investigations require thorough examination of evidence.
Human traffickingNoun phraseExploitation of people for forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexHuman trafficking is a violation of basic human rights.
Identity theftNoun phraseUnauthorized use of someone else’s personal informationIdentity theft can have devastating financial consequences.
KidnappingNounUnlawful abduction or holding hostageKidnapping cases require swift law enforcement action.
Money launderingNoun phraseConcealing the origins of illegally obtained moneyMoney laundering facilitates criminal activities by hiding proceeds.
RobberyNounTheft involving force, violence, or intimidationRobbery is a violent crime punishable by law.
TerrorismNounUse of violence or intimidation for political or ideological purposesCounterterrorism efforts aim to prevent acts of terrorism.
TheftNounAct of stealing property without consentTheft is a common property crime.
VandalismNounWillful destruction of propertyVandalism often results in damage to public or private property.

Idioms for speaking

IdiomDefinitionExample
Behind barsIn prison or jail; incarcerated.“The thief was behind bars for stealing from multiple stores.”
Caught red-handedCaught in the act of committing a crime, typically with evidence.“The thief was caught red-handed on surveillance camera stealing from the store.”
Get away with murderTo avoid punishment for a serious offense, often due to luck or lack of evidence.“It seems like wealthy individuals often get away with murder while others face harsh penalties for minor offenses.”
Get off scot-freeTo avoid punishment or consequences for one’s actions.“Despite the evidence against him, he managed to get off scot-free due to a legal technicality.”
Go off the railsTo start behaving in a way that is reckless or deviant; to behave badly.“After dropping out of school, he went off the rails and got involved in petty crime.”
Go straightTo stop engaging in criminal behavior and live an honest life.“After serving his sentence, he decided to go straight and start afresh.”
In hot waterIn trouble or facing difficulties, often as a result of one’s actions.“He found himself in hot water after being caught cheating on the exam.”
Nail someoneTo catch or incriminate someone for a crime.“The detectives finally nailed the suspect after months of investigation.”
Off the hookReleased or freed from obligation or responsibility, especially punishment.“He thought he was off the hook after the witness failed to testify.”
On the lamFleeing from law enforcement; on the run from the authorities.“The suspect went on the lam after escaping from prison.”
Pay one’s debt to societyTo serve a sentence or punishment for a crime committed.“After being convicted, he spent years in prison paying his debt to society.”
Pay the piperTo face the consequences or suffer the punishment for one’s actions.“After years of embezzling money, he finally had to pay the piper and serve time in prison.”
Serve timeTo spend a period in prison as a punishment for a crime.“He served time for his involvement in the robbery.”
Take the fall forTo accept blame or punishment for something on behalf of others.“He decided to take the fall for his friend’s crime to protect him from harsher consequences.”
Throw the book atTo impose the maximum possible punishment on someone.“The judge decided to throw the book at the repeat offender.”
Turn oneself inTo surrender to authorities or confess to a crime.“Realizing he couldn’t evade capture forever, he decided to turn himself in to the police.”
Walk the straight and narrowTo behave honestly and ethically; to avoid trouble or wrongdoing.“After getting out of prison, he resolved to walk the straight and narrow and stay out of trouble.”
White-collar crimeNon-violent crimes typically committed by individuals in business or professional positions.“The investigation uncovered a large-scale white-collar crime scheme involving fraud and embezzlement.”

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Huyen Nguyen
Huyen Nguyen

Founder of Practice9, creator of IELTS with Huyen. Huyen has 10 years of experience with IELTS, overall 8.5.

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