How to Write a Definition Essay in Criminal Justice

Writing guide
Posted on February 17, 2020

The course of Criminal Justice is concerned with a wide range of matters that go far beyond the confines of the system of criminal justice itself. It is the area that comprises the missions, policies, origins, methods, and goals of the human services system, as well as criminal and civil justice systems. Criminal Justice is a multidisciplinary program that resonates with ethics, public policy, history, political and social organization. On the whole, Criminal Justice deals with the way the existing laws are being made, enforces, and applied.

What to do if you’re assigned a definition essay writing the task in the course of Criminal Justice? First, relax and take it easy. The great news is that the field of study comprises a bunch of terms that you can choose and define with ease. Many students really enjoy writing a definition essay since this type of academic papers is one of the easiest.

What is a definition essay?
This category of writing is known for taking on terms/issues/phenomena/ideas and explaining what they mean. While some terms have concrete, definite meaning, such as ‘carol decision’ or ‘embezzlement,’ the other words like ‘admission,’ ‘honesty’ have the meanings that depend on your point of view.
Generally speaking, there are three main steps one should take to craft a winning definition essay in Criminal Justice:

  • Tell your readers what term from the Criminal Justice program is being defined.
  • Give basic and clear details.
  • Use examples, facts, stats, or anecdotes to make sure your readers understand your message.

If you happen to lose your inspiration as you search for the definition essay topic for the Criminal Justice course, find one among the topics we’ve piled up for you here:

  • Transitional Justice in Practice;
  • Medical Marijuana – the Right Treatment?
  • Capital Punishment and Ethics;
  • How You Define Elder Abuse?
  • What Is Workplace Harassment?
  • Power Abuse among Police Officers;
  • Art Fraud Cooperation;
  • Child Abuse;
  • International Tribunal and Its Analysis;
  • Police – Community Relations and Their Types;
  • Drunk Driving;
  • Crime and Types of Crime;
  • Misdemeanor – the Lesser Crime;
  • Plaintiff in Criminal Justice;
  • Cybercrime;
  • Human Trafficking;
  • Felonies as the Most Serious Classification of Crimes;
  • White-Collar Crime;
  • Expungement: Definition and Examples;
  • Tort: When One Commits Wrong

A really enjoyable thing about the Criminal Justice definition essay is that the project doesn’t oblige the essay writer to give 100% precise definition or use the info taken from explanatory dictionaries only. Along with explaining the general idea of the chosen term, the writer has the freedom to give their own thoughts and ideas about what they define in the essay.

Analyze Your Sources

Before you get your hands on the writing process, you will have to consider all of your source data taken from dictionaries and interviews, and analyze it for patterns. Search for some similarities or/and contrasts in the definitions you have collected that you will be able to use to organize your data into an essay that rocks. You will use this pattern or contrast to form a thesis statement about the info in your interviews.

Now, when we’re clear with the definition of the definition essay, let us take a closer look at the major parts of the project.

Strong Intro Guarantees Success

Do your best to give your definition essay a good start. If your intro processed properly, you’ll be able to easily keep your writing logical. The key goal of any intro is to present the main idea of the paper, in other words, you’re required to state in a clear tone what you’re about to define.

The point is that the intro in a definition essay should provide your readers with a certain heads-up and prepare them all for what they’ll learn from your text.

In the case of an essay written for the Criminal Justice program, the introductory paragraph shouldn’t be too narrow or too broad. You may start with a broader issue, and then take your readers to the main statement. Nevertheless, you need to be careful as you write – don’t go into many details or turn away from the key term you define. To cut it, the winning introduction would include the following steps:

  • Thinking over the topic in advance. If you decide to define the term like ‘delinquent,’ make sure to think it over beforehand, check the main terms of the juvenile delinquent segment to be able to determine the main idea that you will develop later in the paper.
  • Begin with general ideas and gradually go on to the key matter. In the case of ‘delinquent’ term, you may start with some general information about the role of age in serious crimes and move to the delinquency behavior carried out by a juvenile. Don’t forget to connect the sentences in your intro by using the connecting particles.
  • Use ‘the hook.’ Find some catchy and exciting facts about your topic and include them in your intro to make your paper worth reading. For instance, in the intro for the definition essay on delinquency, you might mention that the United States of America has the highest rate of youth confinement among all developed countries. Or, as an alternative, you might mention that juvenile gang killings are the fastest growing kind of homicide, increasing almost 400% since 1980.

Tips on Writing the Body Paragraphs

To begin with, the definition essay should include at least three body paragraphs to look complete. This scheme is widely used due to the fact that each of your thoughts must be supported by several appropriate examples. For example, if your definition essay topic is related to ‘offenses,’ the body paragraphs will describe this issue in different aspects. You can give a precise definition of ‘offenses’ that you find in the dictionary or any other official source, then use the way ‘offenses’ are described in various works of art. Finally, in the last paragraph, make sure to tell your readers how you understand what ‘offenses’ are and describe your experience or an example from your past or present. Ensure to refer to really exciting information and give real quotations in order to keep the interest of your audience.

The Conclusion

Here we are. It’s the final part of the definition essay. Now you have to draw a line and come up with a solid conclusion. It’s crucial to be attentive at this point because many writers tend to lose their main ideas among the vast amount of criminal information. So make sure to preserve your main idea and maintain it throughout the whole paper. Your concluding paragraph should serve as the main answer to the question you have aroused in the introduction.


Never skip the proofreading phase that enables you to eliminate all the errors and boost the potential grade. Provide a detailed list of references. Besides, you have to always run your definition essay through plagiarism detection programs in order to ensure it doesn’t include any traces of plagiarism. Double-check the list of your references to fix all lexical and grammar errors.

Final Tips

  • It is recommended to write a definition essay on the word/phenomenon/issue/term that has more than one meaning. In the case of Criminal Justice, most terms are quite concrete. Nonetheless, the course of study has a vast vocabulary that comprises the words with two or more meanings such as ‘admission,’ ‘fine,’ ‘bail,’ ‘report,’ ‘proof,’ and so on.
  • The better option might be for the writer to pick a term with several different meanings – the one that would have a different meaning to different groups of people. Thus, you will have more to write a definition essay about, as well as have a chance to provide your personal understanding and various interpretations of other people.
  • Find out more about the origin of the chosen term, word, phenomenon, or issue. All encyclopedias, journals, blogs, and books are at your service! Find out where the word comes from, check the weirdest theories and ideas – anything is just several clicks away.
    Also, if you work with the term from Criminal Justice, you will have to research the word in certain law encyclopedias.
  • Surf the internet as much as you can. You can find tons of information about Criminal Justice terms and issues today. All you need is a stable internet connection and a couple of trustworthy websites that contain academic articles, essays, blog posts written by people educated in the law. What is more, there are many videos made by Criminal Justice gurus who have already thoroughly researched many words that you’re just starting to deal with.
  • Approach your family and friends to check what they have to say about the chosen word. It is highly important to get your personal perspective on the chosen term. In order to do that, you can converse with your pals or family members. Just come up and ask them something like, ‘what is the first thing that comes up in your mind when you hear this word?’, ‘what this term means to you?’, ‘what kind of feelings do you have when you hear the term?’, etc. You have to record all the answers that you hear because the chances are some of them are unique and will add credibility to your essay.

Show your definition essay to others to get professional feedback. Get your peers, friends, or some of your other tutors to read your paper. Make sure to ask them if both your term and the definition is easy to follow and clear. Feel free to ask as many questions as possible about whether your points are properly supported and well developed throughout the definition essay.

Make sure to listen to constructive criticism from know-it-all people, but never take their words to heart. Their feedback will only make your piece better.

As an option, you can ask the following questions as the person does the editing part for you:

  • Definition. How well the definitions are given? Do you see which one was the most common? Is the link between the definitions clear?
  • Organization. Is the thesis statement in the essay easy to comprehend? Does each of the topic sentences present the arguments properly? Are the used transitions smooth?
  • Use of printed/online sources. Does the essay use the dictionary definitions and other materials properly? Have the writer (you) integrated the source materials into the paper in a professional manner? Are the used quotations up to a point? Are there spaces where the writer needs to add more information from the chosen sources?
  • Argument/evidence in the body. Are the arguments/evidence convincing? Are there cases where it is weak? What are the sections where more info should be inserted? Does the writer move logically from one statement to the other? Is the definition essay created climatically?
  • Topic, intro, and end. Does the chosen topic reflect the content of the definition essay? Is the beginning of the essay interesting for a potential reader? Is the concluding paragraph produced with a strong final point or presented just as the summarization of what was said before?
  • Sum up. Which parts of the essay need improvement? What is the best thing about the project?
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