Difference Between Illicit & Illegal

Illicit and illegal are two terms that are frequently used in the media, and while illegal is generally well-understood as referring to actions that go against the laws of a country, the term illicit can be misunderstood due to its similarities with the word illegal. Despite having some commonalities, there are significant differences between the two terms that will be outlined in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Illicit acts are also illegal, but are differentiated by their secretive nature.
  • Illegal refers to behaviors that directly violate established laws and result in penalties or prison sentences.
  • Examples of illicit acts include secret extramarital affairs, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.

Every society has norms, rules, and regulations for acceptable behavior, and those who go beyond the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviors are often looked down upon. In the past, social disapproval may have been sufficient to deter individuals from engaging in such behaviors, but in modern times, countries have established judicial systems with clearly defined laws that must be followed by their citizens. Those who violate these laws face punishment in the form of penalties or prison sentences. Behaviors that are deemed illegal by these laws include violence, murder, theft, embezzlement, and corruption, among others.

Illicit behaviors, on the other hand, refer to acts that are forbidden by law, but are committed by individuals who are aware that they are engaging in illegal activities. These acts are typically secretive and furtive in nature, with those involved believing that they can evade the law. Examples of illicit acts include a married individual having a secret extramarital affair or participating in the illicit trade of banned substances like drugs. Some narcotic drugs are banned in many countries, yet citizens of these nations may still engage in the trade of these substances in hopes of making a profit.

Nuclear proliferation is another act that has been declared illegal, but some countries are suspected of engaging in illicit nuclear dealings with others. Similarly, human trafficking and organ trafficking are strictly prohibited in all countries, yet cases of smuggling women and children from impoverished nations into wealthier ones for sex or other exploitative purposes continue to emerge regularly.

In summary, while both illicit and illegal acts involve breaking the law, the primary distinction between the two lies in the secretive nature of illicit activities.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles