We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does "in Flagrante Delicto" Mean?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In flagrante delicto is a legal term that roughly translates as "caught in the act," or "caught red-handed." A more accurate translation of the Latin term is "during a blazing or burning misdeed." It’s helpful to recall the term "flagrant," which derives from flagrante, when trying to recall this term’s meaning. Flagrant means open, glaring, obvious, reprehensible or conspicuously bad. Essentially, the person who is apprehended in flagrante delicto is in the middle of doing a terrible thing and is caught while doing it. In common language, the thing may not be so terrible and the term becomes slang for being caught in the act of sexual intercourse.

It is difficult to mount a defense when a person is discovered in flagrante delicto because there is plenty of evidence that a crime was taking place and the person charged with it was committing it. Someone who is apprehended breaking into a bank, racing out of a grocery store with stolen goods, punching someone in the face or in other ways being discovered while acting in a criminal way would have a very difficult time proving behavior hadn’t been criminal. Instead of trying prove that someone didn’t commit a crime, the defense may revolve around extenuating circumstances that either made the crime lesser than it appeared, or defending attorneys could create an argument that the person had no intention of completing a crime. In many instances, the person found in flagrante delicto makes a guilty plea and tries to get a lesser charge through plea-bargaining.

The only potential advantage in being apprehended in flagrante delicto occurs if the person is caught as the crime begins. Not completing the crime might mean slightly reduced charges. There could be a big difference between being charged with an attempted criminal offense as opposed to one that is completed, such as attempted robbery, in contrast to robbery.

Yet being found in flagrante delicto doesn’t specify when a person is caught. He could easily be apprehended red-handed while escaping a crime scene, while perpetrating a crime or at the beginning of the act. Additionally, the degree to which charges might be reduced if a crime is not fully completed depends on laws in individual jurisdictions and regions.

The more common usage of in flagrante delicto to refer to being caught in the act of sex does not necessarily imply any form of criminal or licentious behavior. For instance, a child could surprise her parents by entering their bedroom while they are in the act of intercourse. Neither child nor parents are at fault, and it is a common scenario.

Catching someone committing adultery bears more similarity to the way the term is used legally. In actuality, witnessing such behavior might be used in civil divorce cases where division of assets is controversial. Not all jurisdictions would admit such evidence, because some areas have no fault divorce laws, where adultery does not affect property division.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a MyLawQuestions contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a MyLawQuestions contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.