When any act is an offense and what are the types of offenses?

There are two types of offenses mentioned in the First Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

So, before we delve into the types of offenses, let’s understand what is offense?

When any act is considered an offense and are they punishable by law?

Before Joseph Shine v. Union of India (2018), Adultery was an offense but after this case, Section 497 of Indian Penal Code was decriminalized.

It means any act punishable by law is an offense while when the act is not punishable by law then it is not an offense even if it is morally and ethically wrong.

There are two types of Offenses –

1. Cognizable offenses

2. Non cognizable offenses


Cognizable offenses are defined under Section 2 (c) of Code of Criminal Procedure which states that a Police Officer can arrest any person without warrant in cognizable offense. Generally they are serious offenses that’s why the object is to minimize the delay in investigation.


When Police arrest the person without warrant then he can proceed to investigate without any order or directions from a Magistrate.

But As per the provision under Section 57 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Crpc), the Police can’t detain the person in Police custody for more than 24 hours as the Police Officer needs to present him before the magistrate and if required ask for his custody.


In Cognizable Offenses the punishment is not less than 3 years. However, there are some exceptions to it such as offenses related to marriage are non-cognizable offenses because it is a private wrong and the objective is to maintain the dignity of the family and to protect the institution of marriage.


The other offense is Non cognizable offense. Section 2(l) of Code of Criminal Procedure defines non cognizable offenses as an offense where Police don’t have the authority to arrest the person without warrant and nor they have the power to investigate without the authority given by the Judicial Magistrate.

Non Cognizable Offenses are less serious crimes and the punishment for the same is less than 3 years. However, there are some exceptions to it. Such as the punishment for Offences against Public Tranquility is less than 3 years but it is a Cognizable Offenses.

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