How to Avoid Becoming a Criminal

The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of the crime pandemic society faces on a daily basis. More importantly however, the purpose is to attempt to prevent people from being tempted into criminal behavior.

Not only is it very easy to take the risk and make a poor choice in this area, but the consequences are great. The risk of being caught is a reality, but more importantly; once that line has been crossed, it has very likely taken you beyond the point of no return. Partaking in crime then becomes too easy. This is where the fundamental difficulty in rehabilitating a criminal offender lies.

The chances of one getting caught the first time are slim and like an addiction in most instances, it is extremely difficult to break the cycle in your life once you succumb to the temptation. The end results will very likely include you having to face up to the authorities and possibly spend time imprisoned. A criminal record cannot be reversed. Crime can only destruct and destroy your life and the lives of others and therefore is definitely not a risk worth taking.

South African statistics indicate a success ratio of around 2% in as far as the rehabilitation of a criminal offender is concerned. This alarming statistic speaks for itself.

In this instance, prevention is most certainly better than cure.


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    Realise that there is no such a thing as a ‘free lunch’. Everything in life comes at a cost. When someone is offering you something for free, one needs to consider the motive behind their giving. If you discover their giving is pure and true, accept the gift graciously. This is rare however and the safer way is to consider extreme or exceptional generosity by someone (sadly, even your spouse or sibling can fit into this category) as a moral challenge to which prior to accepting their gift, wisdom and discernment must be applied. Transparency is the key here and anything underhanded or secretive is a sure indicator that an element of dishonesty exists in the giving. Saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ can be difficult, but can save you being accused of partaking in bribery and corruption as a result, which is a very serious offence. Paired with this, don’t ever be tempted to offer someone a ‘free lunch’ without checking your motives first. A seemingly innocent act can be blown out of proportion and can see you as being perceived as a perpetrator of crime in no time. If your motives are pure and you operate with transparency and integrity, giving can be the greatest blessing to you and another ever. Keep it pure!
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    For every action, there is a reaction. The word ‘consequence’ is defined as ‘the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier’ – The consequence of engaging in criminal activity is clearly explained in the introduction above. In some countries and states, the death penalty is considered adequate punishment for certain crimes. We all dream about dying with honor. Let us again appreciate that the cost of committing crime is too great and really just isn’t worth it!
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    Understand the dividing line of intent. Intent is defined as ‘the state of a person’s mind that directs his or actions towards a specific object’ - and ‘the design of purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act’ – This indicates that intent is a calculated, purposeful act aimed at injuring or harming another. In order for an action to have crossed the line of being criminal, intent is required. There is an old proverb which states ‘the road to hell was paved with the best of intentions’. This is a difficult topic and can be debated ad nauseam. For the purposes of this article however, if an act is tested and proven erroneous on the offending parties’ part, but destruction is caused, it is ruled out as accidental as opposed to criminal. It has to do with the state of the mind that the offending person is in. Unresolved revengeful emotions like resentment, jealously, bitterness and rage can skew a person’s frame of mind and result in them becoming a criminal overnight. Acts of crime or criminal activity must always be tested against intent in order to be valid. This also serves as a form of protection to the innocents. Therefore, check your intentions before you act out against a person. Stop yourself before you need to be stopped.
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    Manage your emotions. Emotional intelligence wins. We are each responsible for the management of our own emotions. Responsibility means commitment and action. Spend some time observing yourself and your reactions to a variety of situations. Identifying your emotional weaknesses and setting the wheels in motion to correct them is what is required in order to maintain a healthy emotional intelligence base. Seek wise counsel on areas of improvement, whether it be from a boss, a trusted friend, elder, mentor, pastor, counselor or psychologist. Use these trusted few to work through negative or revengeful emotions and commit to applying commonly tried and tested tools so that you can be better at managing these. This will protect you from behaving irrationally, off-the-cuff or out of a trigger when faced with a challenging situation. It will also likely aid in protecting you from compromising your morals in the process, which could again see you engaging in criminal activity. An emotional decision is in most instances a poor decision and decisions should never be made when in an emotional state. Another important thing to consider is that hurt people hurt others. Work through your hurts so that you can protect yourself and others from being hurt in the long run. Remember to guard your hearts, for they are the wellsprings of all life!
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    Manage your morals. Hating another in your heart is as evil a sin as murder. Looking at a woman with lust in your heart is as evil a sin as committing adultery. Morals come from the heart. As our hearts are fundamentally evil, we need to intentionally manage what flows forth from them. Being of good moral integrity therefore requires a conscious decision. A decision to fight against the evil within and to act in a noble, right, pure, good, excellent and praiseworthy manner in all we do. This is guaranteed to protect you from becoming a criminal. Finding and utilising accountability partner/s whose counsel you respect is a practical way of keeping yourself in check in this area. Spirituality plays a big part in the managing of one’s morals, and the stronger you build your spirit through partaking in the spiritual riches God has planned for you, the weaker sin and bad morals will become in your life. The choice is yours.
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    Manage your finances responsibly. The love of money is the root of all evil. Keep your life free from being in love with money. Take calculated risks when it comes to money, not flippant ones. Don’t over-expose yourself to debt under any circumstances. Rather, learn to go without. Don’t stand surety for another’s financial debts. Ever. When it comes to finances, what you sow is what you reap. If you sow with dishonesty, that is what you will receive. If you sow with honesty and integrity, that is what you will receive. Seek financial advice from trained professionals and stick to it. If you are in over your head with debt, rather resort to being under debt administration than resorting to dishonesty to meet them. Taking risks in as far as being dishonest with money is therefore a big no-no and should be resisted at all costs.
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    Never think it is okay to take justice into your own hands. In certain tribal communities in South Africa, the community members informally take justice into their hands in the form of Kangaroo Courts. Vigilante groups and gang crime are rampant in other parts of the world. People generally resort to this behaviour out of a feeling that the criminal justice system either is of no assistance to them, does not serve harsh enough sentences on criminals, or out of their own revengeful emotions that overwhelm them when faced with a perpetrator of criminal activity. Taking justice into your own hands is by far the worst possible thing you can do, and you can be guaranteed that it will always backfire. Always. Partaking in this will likely resort in you exchanging places with the criminal offender, and you will result in being viewed as the criminal. It can be equated to going against the law of the wild, which disturbs the natural equilibrium of mankind.
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    Consider consequences with fear and trembling. Healthy fear is a good thing. Fearlessness is beneficial if your moral base is good and your spirit is strong. In any other circumstance, it is detrimental and destructive. Being fearful of the laws of the land, of authorities and having a reverent fear of God’s justice is a good starting point to protect yourself against falling into the trap of crime. Always consider whether a risk is in fact a risk worth taking before you act. If you have any doubt, don’t.
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    Earn an honest living by the sweat of your brow. Good old hard work is always the best policy. Rather earn a pittance honestly than a fortune dishonestly. The freedom of heart, mind and soul that comes with this is invaluable. Lack of peace of mind causes distress, trauma and a variety of physical ailments and illnesses. Peace of mind is a valuable gift and should be desired far above your desire to seek revenge, add to your assets, feed your addictions or prove a point to another.


  • A dysfunctional family unit is one of the root causes of criminal behaviour. We are all accountable and responsible to ensure our family units are maintained with good morals, ethics, discipline, sound teaching and the desire to set a good example. Various training tools are available to family units, or those planning on building a family. Exercise your ability to learn and then to practically act out what you have learned in as far as building a healthy family life is concerned. That is a risk well worth taking!
  • Be objective in all your dealings. This rule of thumb will safeguard you against making poor judgement calls.
  • You have the opportunity to be the change you want to see in the world. Exercise that opportunity and keep your life crime-free.
  • Once again, when in doubt, don’t.
  • If you steal money, return it because it's never too late to do the right thing.


  • It has been said that people judge you by the company you keep. This is true. Don’t partake in drinking of the cup of crime by succumbing to peer pressure, for love and acceptance, in an attempt to prove yourself or for popularity’s sakes. We are never too old to be influenced by peer pressure. Choose your friends wisely and guard your reputation in this area at all costs.
  • Sadly, people generally cannot be trusted. The reality is, you cannot control others actions and reactions. You can however control your own actions and reactions, and this is where the work needs to take place to safeguard yourself against becoming a criminal perpetrator. Expect the worst from others, guard your heart, apply wisdom and integrity and forge forward in victory!
  • Live by the courage of your convictions. Be decided beforehand of your stance on grey areas in as far as moral ethics are concerned. Check these decisions with people you believe have integrity and are of good, sound moral fibre. Adhere to your decisions.

Article Info

Categories: Criminal and Penal Law Procedure