15 Words for Someone Who Goes Against The Law

Going against the law means breaking the law or committing a criminal offense. So, what do you call someone who goes against the law?

There are two broad ways to look at it: someone may go against the law but not oppose it. People who are opposed to having rules are called anarchists.

But going against the law, in this context, is breaking a set of rules, not revolting against it.

Maybe you’re in a conversation or writing an article and need to use diverse words for someone who goes against the law as you express opinions about those who engage in illegal actions.

You will find 15 best word choice options.

15 Words For Someone Who Goes Against The Law

  • Criminal
  • Lawbreaker
  • Offender
  • Delinquent
  • Culprit
  • Outlaw
  • Felon
  • Miscreant
  • Transgressor
  • Malefactor
  • Rogue
  • Perpetrator
  • Violator
  • Lawless
  • Deviant



  • “Criminal” is a broader and more neutral term for someone who has committed a crime, thereby going against the law. So it works for every situation and is the best word choice
  • A “lawbreaker” is someone who violates the law. It is a straightforward term that emphasizes breaking the law itself.
  • Use “offender” in a more formal context because it sounds more like a legal term but still means someone who has committed a crime or violated a law, rule, or regulation.
  • If someone who has gone against the law is young or juvenile, “delinquent” would be more accurate.
  • “Culprit” is responsible for committing a crime or wrongdoing


You can see that several words work for referring to someone who goes against the law, but the perfect one to use depends on the situation.

You may be writing a report about crime stories or reporting on individuals who have broken the law, and any of these words would come in handy. That is why I strongly recommend my top seven word choices for someone who goes against the law above others.

In the rest of this article, I’ll also show you example sentences on how to incorporate these words.


Words for Someone Who Goes Against The Law

A “criminal” is a word used to describe someone who does something very wrong according to the rules that a community or country has made.

Imagine if there were rules like “don’t take things that don’t belong to you” or “don’t hurt other people.” When someone breaks these rules, they are called a “criminal.”

Longman Dictionary describes the word “criminal” as someone involved in illegal activities. Essentially, it means the person has gone against already established laws.

Also, most legal systems worldwide have a specific body of laws known as the “criminal code” or “penal code.”

These codes outline what actions are considered criminal and the corresponding punishments.

So, when a person commits an act listed as a crime in these codes, they are labeled “criminal.”

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • The police arrested the criminal who had broken into the store and stolen valuable items.
  • A criminal can face serious consequences, such as imprisonment, for committing a violent crime like robbery.


The term “Lawbreaker” is a correct and straightforward word to describe someone who goes against the law because the word immediately conveys the idea that the person is doing something against the law.

There’s no room for confusion or misinterpretation.

Cambridge Dictionary says a lawbreaker is someone who does not obey the law. For you not to follow something, it means you go against it.

Although some sources describe a lawbreaker as someone who “violates” the law or does something criminal, they all mean the same thing.

Unlike some other terms that may carry a negative connotation, “Lawbreaker” is a neutral term that simply describes the person’s actions without passing judgment.

The word is formulated by combining two components, “Law” and “breaker.”

When these two independent words become a single word, it conveys the idea of someone actively and intentionally violating the established laws.

It’s a straightforward and easily understandable term because it directly relates to breaking the law.

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • Being a law-abiding citizen is important in our society, and we should report any suspicious activity involving a potential lawbreaker.
  • The courtroom was tense as the judge prepared to sentence the remorseful lawbreaker for his involvement in the embezzlement scheme.


Words for Someone Who Goes Against The Law

Offender is a more subtle word, but it still refers to someone who has breached the law or gone against it.

The usefulness of this word is that it applies to various levels, even if it’s the law of a small community or group. As long as they have laid rules, and someone goes against them, such a person can be called an offender.

Sometimes, “criminal” or “lawbreaker” can be too heavy a word for someone who breaks the law of a relatively smaller group or unit of community.

So, in such situations, the “offender” word sounds more befitting. It’s simple and versatile. Little wonder why Vocabulary.com defines the term as someone who breaks the law, especially for the first time.

I also love the neutrality of this word option. The word “offender” is neutral and does not imply guilt or innocence.

It simply describes the person’s involvement in a criminal or unlawful act.

This neutrality is crucial, especially in the legal context, where the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is important.

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • The judge carefully considered the offender’s criminal history and the severity of the crime before sentencing.
  • Rehabilitation programs aim to help offenders reintegrate into society and reduce the likelihood of future criminal behavior.


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a delinquent person is usually young and behaves in a way that is illegal or unacceptable to most people.

This explains why you will offer “juvenile” attached to the delinquent term.

Delinquent can serve as a noun or adjective.  The term has its origins in Latin, derived from the word “delinquent,” which means “to fail” or “to commit an offense.”

Also, using “delinquent” instead of more pejorative terms like “criminal” can be more conducive for a lawbreaker trying to rehabilitate.

It recognizes that someone who breaks the law may need support, guidance, and opportunities for reform.

Still, using this term immediately emphasizes that the person has failed to uphold the law and has engaged in unlawful behavior.

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • The school counselor worked tirelessly to support and guide juvenile delinquents, helping them make better choices and avoid further legal trouble.
  • The local community rallied together to create a mentorship program for at-risk youth, aiming to prevent them from becoming delinquents.


Words for Someone Who Goes Against The Law

Think of it like this: Imagine a set of rules, like a game, that everyone in a community is supposed to follow.

These rules are there to make sure that everyone plays fair and no one gets hurt.

Now, if someone decides to break these rules and do something they’re not supposed to, like stealing or hurting others, they are essentially taking on the “guilt” of their actions.

So, when we call someone a “culprit,” we are saying that they are the ones who did something wrong and they are responsible for their actions.

It’s a way of pointing a finger at the person who has broken the law and saying, “You are the one who is guilty of this.”

So you can see that “culprit” is a correct word for someone who goes against the law because it comes from a combination of words that mean “guilty one” or “one who has taken guilt.”

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • During the trial, the prosecutor presented compelling evidence that pointed to Vitalis as the culprit responsible for the hit-and-run accident.
  • After a careful examination of the security footage, it became clear that Naza was not the culprit who had been stealing office supplies, as initially suspected,


By simply checking what “outlaw” means on Dictionary.com, it becomes clearer that the word is a correct term for someone who goes against the law.

The word “outlaw” makes sense when we break it down into two parts: “out” and “law.”

  • “Out” means outside or not following.
  • “Law” refers to the rules and regulations that a society creates to maintain order and fairness.

So, when we put these two parts together, an “outlaw” is someone who is “outside the law” or “not following the law.”

In simpler terms, an outlaw is a person who breaks the rules and goes against what is considered right and legal in a community or society.

Outlaws are often associated with activities like robbing, stealing, or causing harm to others, which are against the laws established by the government.

They choose to live a life that goes against these rules, making them “outlaws.”

Although, a long time ago, outlaws were people who were declared criminals and were not protected by the law.

Vigilantes often hunted them down because they threatened the safety and order of the community.

But nowadays, the term “outlaw” has been used in movies to describe people who live on the fringes of society, rejecting its rules and regulations.

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • The notorious outlaw Jesse James was known for robbing banks and eluding the authorities in the American Old West.
  • In the movie, the protagonist becomes an outlaw after he refuses to obey the corrupt government’s unjust laws and takes matters into his own hands


Words for Someone Who Goes Against The Law

“Felon” is another correct word for someone who goes against the law because it accurately reflects their legal status as a person who has committed a serious crime.

Legally, crimes are grouped into different levels based on their severity. “Felonies” are among the most serious crimes, such as murder, robbery, or drug trafficking.

When someone is found guilty of committing a felony, they are legally called a “felon.” This classification helps differentiate between minor and major offenses. No wonder the Longman Dictionary defines a felon as someone who has committed a serious crime.

If you use the term “felon,” people will easily understand the seriousness of the person’s criminal actions.

It’s a concise way to convey that the person has broken the law significantly, so I think it’s the correct word to use during legal proceedings, law enforcement, and public discourse.

Take a look at some example sentences that include this term:

  • After a fair trial, the court found the defendant guilty of armed robbery, officially designating him as a felon.
  • In some states, felons who have completed their sentences may have their voting rights restored after a certain period.


The good thing about these words is that they sound formal and casual. So whether you’re in court, filing legal documents, or having random conversations with others about someone who went against the law, these words will prove useful.

Also, feel free to use these during interviews or communication about suspects or criminals.

You may not be able to memorize all these words instantly, but you can bookmark this page and revisit it later to refresh your memory.

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