Difference b/w Decriminalization and Legalization

The terms legalization and decriminalization are often used interchangeably, yet not everyone seems to realize that these words have different meanings and that they cannot always be used in the same context. Difference b/w Decriminalization and Legalization

Legalization and decriminalization are concepts with different implications, which depending on how they are used can have a drastic impact on those it may affect. There is a fine line between one and the other, which is why not a few confuse them.

If you have doubts about the difference between decriminalization and legalization or are simply looking for a little more information to complement what you already know, then keep reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about to this interesting topic.

DECRIMINALIZATION  Difference b/w Decriminalization and Legalization

Basically, the word decriminalization describes the process by which something is stopped from being considered a crime. However, in practice it could also refer to minimizing penalties in relation to certain acts that are normally considered criminal.

Likewise, this term could also refer to the decision to stop considering certain actions as justification for sending someone to jail and instead turn them into minor offenses for which a fine can be paid or otherwise resolved through the compensation payment.

There are many who believe that decriminalizing is the same as legalizing, but in reality it is not. When something is decriminalized it is possible to achieve significant reductions in the severity of the sentence, but this does not mean that the penalties are completely removed or that the actions are morally accepted.


On the other hand, legalization is the process of removing the criminal penalties assigned to certain acts. In most cases, this actually includes all penalties, in other words, what was previously punished or penalized becomes completely legal.

Finally, although an action may cease to be considered a crime, it could be subject to some type of regulation; which means that despite their legalization, there are actions that are regulated by law and sometimes they are also limited to a certain extent. When there are such regulations, then a license is required to carry out the action in question. For example, buying alcohol is legal, but under certain circumstances (such as being a minor) it cannot be purchased.

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