For example, most human beings believe that murder, rape, and theft are wrong, regardless of whether a law governs such conduct or where the conduct occurs, and is thus recognizably malum in se. In contrast, malum prohibitum crimes are criminal not because they are inherently bad, but because the act is prohibited by the law of the state.
This concept was used to develop the various common law offences.
Another way to describe the underlying conceptual difference between "malum in se" and "malum prohibitum" is "iussum quia iustum" and "iustum quia iussum," namely something that is commanded (iussum) because it is just (iustum) and something that is just (iustum) because it is commanded (iussum).
- Canadian Law Dictionary, John A. Yogis, Q.C., Barrons: 2003 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malum_in_se
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