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Travel obligations and internet issues are going to be interfering with daily posts for at least the next few days. So nobody will go into withdrawal, however, The Legal Genealogist offers…

The term of the day — actually terms of the day:


Ten_Commandments.openclip.ronit2These fundamentally are the things we really ought not to be doing. At all. Either because they’re just plain wrong and everybody understands they’re wrong, or because the law makes them wrong and tells everybody through the law that they’re wrong.

To be mala in se, what we’re doing would be “wrongs in themselves; acts morally wrong; offenses against conscience.”1 As to that, think murder, robbery, rape. Nobody really has to tell us these are wrong; we all know it. If anything, we’re taught it at our mother’s knee.

To be mala prohibita, what we’re doing would be “prohibited wrongs or offenses; acts which are made offenses by positive laws, and prohibited as such.”2 As to that, think driving 50 miles an hour in a 40 mile-an-hour zone, building without a permit, putting your garbage cans out on Monday when pickup isn’t until Friday. There’s nothing about what we’d be doing that makes it wrong in and of itself; it’s because the law says it’s wrong that we can’t do it.

Oh, and just so you know… the terms are plural. The singular forms are malum in se and malum prohibitum.


Image: Open Clip Art, user ronit2

  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 744, “mala in se.”
  2. Ibid., “mala prohibita.”
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