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Problem setting. Human behavior and unlawful acts in particular, form the organic unity of its external (physical) and internal (psychological) aspects. Consequently, every crime is characterized by both internal and external features. Such a complex approach to considering of human behavior is especially necessary in the field of criminal law.

Furthermore, on the current stage of the criminal-law science development, psychological characteristic of the crime and offender becomes particularly essential. That is contemporary requirement, since, as modern researches in the field of criminal law clearly show, none of aims of the criminal procedure could be achieved without criminal motive and purpose investigation. Moreover, this fact has its impact on the jurisprudence, and that is why enhancing of importance of motive and purpose of the crime in the criminal investigation is observed, notwithstanding their optionality in process of qualification of the offense.

Last scientific researches and publications analysis. The issue of the role of motive and purpose of the crime was researched by such prominent scientists as B. Volkov, N. Miroshnichenko, V. Yakushkin, P. Dagel, D. Kotov, A. Savchenko and others. However, the necessity of complex research of the motive of the crime was not reasoned yet.

Formulation of the article’s purpose. The purpose of this article is the theoretical grounding of the complex approach to the issue of investigation of such criminal-law categories as motive and purpose of the crime. Therefore, the task of this research is investigation of the role of the motive and purpose of the crime on the current stage of criminal-law science development.

The statement of basic material of research. The subjective aspect of the crime, except for guilt, is characterized by purpose, motive and emotions. In contrast to the guilt, these features are optional (supplementary) features of the subjective side of the crime, except for those cases, when the Law on Criminal Liability directly states their obligation or this is evident from the content of disposition of the criminal law. However, the grounds of the substantive criminal law, mentioned above, seem to be controversial in regard to the criminal procedure law provisions, as they stipulate the crucial substantive and procedural role of motive of the crime and require it to be investigated and proved in every crime [5, P. 16].

In general, it must be taken into consideration that the concept of the motive of the crime is too subjective for its regulatory consolidation. , researching this criminal-law category, we need to refer to the attainments of psychology. This seems to be necessary in the light of the fact that the definition of the motive could be correctly formed only from that point of view. The term “motive” etymologically derives from Latin term “motum”, which means “to guide”. This could be considered the best reflection of the psychological essence of the motive as it is deemed to be driving force of the crime. Therefore, crime is just the form of expression and embodiment of subject’s motive [5, P. 19].

The psychology stipulates that all of human acts are conditioned by particular motives and aimed at some specific purposes. Consequently, any correct human behavior evaluation cannot be done, excluding the motives and purposes and its special impact on the illegal human behavior. First of all, motive is one of the key psychological terms, by the means of which the inner essence of human behavior is revealed. Motive is considered as the most important component of such comportment and its driving force. Motive is that condition that induces human activities and their aims. Any kind of activity derives from some particular motives, like, for example, interest, appeal, emotions, etc. [1, P. 108].

Regarding legal psychology, two stages of the commission of a crime could be identified: the first stage is motivational one (preparatory) and it includes the nascence of the need and transition of needs into motive and goal-directed behavior; the second stage is behavioral (in fact, a criminal act) and it involves objective (criminal situation) and subjective (criminal motivation) aspects of offense. Due to the general rule, this kind of division could not be applied to the so-called “motiveless” crimes, since motivational stage in of them is almost absent. However, this do not exclude the possibility of the motivation state existence in the actions of person (commonly it occurs in reaction crimes, i.e. those which arose as a response to a particular situation) [4, P. 119].

In the context of mentioned above, we should be admit that, characterizing psychology of the social element, special attention should be paid to impulsive and willful actions. Willful action is a specific form of human actions, which is purposeful, consciously regulated and with man as an object. In turn, impulsiveness is a feature of an action that takes place, when person loses ability of self-control and self-examination and acts on impulse [2, P. 100]. In most cases, such action is a kind of affective way to relieve after certain anxiety. People do not usually think about consequences of such actions and analyze the motives that prompt them to commit offenses. However, it does not indicate absence of motivation, but only shows that these motives are hidden deeply in the person’s mind. Moreover, often after being in such condition, person does not remember or cannot explain them. In the case of willful actions, determination of motives is much simpler.

Obviously, criminal offenses should be regarded as individual social activity, but such of the most dangerous for the society. However, due to psychologists’ thesis, it follows that unmotivated, as well as senseless activities, do not exist. Thus, we understand that motive and purpose are present in every criminal act, as well as in any human act in general. Following that, we may consider that motive is a conscious prompting that is caused by the desire to achieve some specific goals [3, P. 9]. Without a doubt, this feature does not wholly represent essence of the motive in general, but it emphasizes its primary function in the mechanism of human behavior in general and illegal one in particular.

The motive in any particular crime, as in any human behavior in general, fulfills dynamical functions, because it stimulates human actions. Therefore, motive is a source of any activity. Considering the stages of commission of crime mentioned above, motive is the first stage of willful process, and it serves as a motivational force in any crime.

For sure, in each case of criminal offenses, we will deal with specific motives. However, to understand profoundly their nature, we can divide motives into six groups, according to their content: ideological, political, religious, and nationalist types. According to the time of detection, there are motives of continuous detection, long-term motives and short detection motives. Taking to consideration expression and directness of expression, the classification can be expanded by strong, moderate and weak and correspondingly real or actual and potential motives [5, P. 31]. The classification above reflects the diversity and complexity of the crime motives.

Conclusion. Summarizing all above-mentioned, it should be marked that the motive, as a feature of any human behavior in general and illegal in particular, is an integral part of individual social activity. In this respect, it should be appreciated that, when a crime appears to be “motiveless”, it is necessary to deepen into criminals motives, hidden in the mind, and to make much more efforts for their identification.

In addition, we should emphasize on the value of the motive that is important primarily because, firstly, it can act as a mandatory element of specific crime, and, secondly, the motive may be included by the legislator in the Law on Criminal Liability as aggravating circumstances of crime. Finally, motive, being an optional feature of the subjective aspect of the crime, might be taken into account by court as a mitigating circumstance in individualization of punishment. This is deemed necessary considering the fact that the primary purpose of criminal liability is criminal’s re-education, and motive may be the key to understanding of the flaws in the system of his social values.


  1. Бедь В. В. Юридична психологія: Навч. посіб. – К.: МАУП, 2004. – 436 с.
  2. Бочелюк В. Й. Юридична психологія: навч. посібник. – К.: Центр учбової літератури, 2010. – 336 с.
  3. Волков Б. С. Мотивы преступлений. – Издательство Казанского университета, 1982. – 453 с.
  4. Петруня О. Э. Юридическая психология: Учебное пособие. – М.: Изд. центр ЕАОИ, 2007. – 171 с.
  5. Савченко А. В. Мотив і мотивація злочину. Монографія. – К.: Атіка, 2002. – 144 c.

У статті розглянуті особливості значення мотиву злочину як факультативної ознаки суб’єктивної сторони його складу. Також відзначені психологічні витоки поняття та наведена класифікація мотивів.

Ключові слова: злочин, суб’єктивна сторона, мотив.

The article describes the role of motive of crime as optional feature of the subjective aspect of crime. In addition, psychological sources of the conception of motives and their classifications were marked.

Keywords: crime, subjective aspect, motive.




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