corpus delicti

noun cor·pus de·lic·ti \ ˈkȯr-pəs-di-ˈlik-ˌtī , -(ˌ)tē \

Definition of corpus delicti

plural corpora delicti
1 :the substantial and fundamental fact necessary to prove the commission of a crime
2 :the material substance (such as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed

Did You Know?

Corpus delicti literally means "body of the crime" in Latin. In its original sense, the body in question refers not to a corpse but to the body of essential facts that, taken together, prove that a crime has been committed. In popular usage, corpus delicti also refers to the actual physical object upon which a crime has been committed. In a case of arson, it would be a ruined building; in a murder case, the victim's corpse.

Origin and Etymology of corpus delicti

New Latin, literally, body of the crime


Medical Dictionary

corpus delicti

noun corpus de·lic·ti \ -di-ˈlik-ˌtī, -(ˌ)tē \

medical Definition of corpus delicti

plural corpora delicti
1 :the substantial and fundamental fact (as, in murder, actual death and its occurrence as a result of criminal agency) necessary to prove the commission of a crime
2 :the material substance (as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed

Law Dictionary

corpus delicti

noun corpus de·lic·ti \ -di-ˈlik-ˌtī, -dā-, -tē \

legal Definition of corpus delicti

:the substance of a crime that the prosecutor must prove and that consists of an injury or loss (as death of a victim or disappearance of property) and the criminal act that resulted in it

Origin and Etymology of corpus delicti

New Latin, literally, the body of the offense


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