In this chapter, we have explored a number of issues related to validity problems caused by using the legal definition of crime as a substitute for the concept of crime a criminologist imagines when he or she thinks about the causes of crime. In doing so, we have described in detail why microlevel theories cannot be adequately tested using the existing preference to measure crime as a violation of the criminal law. In parts of that discussion, we have repeated some points from earlier in the book to illustrate the connection of these two dimensions of the work we have undertaken here concerning the definition of crime.
We have examined some potential ways in which the problems the legal definition of crime presents in microlevel studies can be remedied empirically. Those empirical remedies, while an improvement over the current methods, do not solve the entire problem. One reason that this is true is that those corrections merely address some of the validity issues empirically and not conceptually. To address those issues conceptually, it is first necessary to examine the nature of crime and to determine if there is a better, nonlegal definition of crime available that can be extracted objectively and scientifically from the nature of crime itself. This issue is taken up in the chapter that follows.