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Culture influences who will be arrested, charged, convicted, and what sentence they will receive. Indeed, the invisible hand of culture drives the process of criminalization and helps to determine which acts we will sanction through criminal statutes. Culture can be defined as the structure of social organization found in a distant society or unfamiliar ethnic group." 

With this understanding of culture in mind, we can see that culture affects criminal law. The state, of course, can seek to define crime through the passage of legislation and through the use of its privileged access to the mass media.  Nonetheless, other individuals and groups can also influence the definition of crime, and may well seek to establish definitions of crime that contradict the official definitions promulgated by the state. Once an act is defined as criminal, changes in behavior and attitudes are wrought in the overall society. At least superficially, these changes are a result of the desire to avoid punitive aspects of the new law. The criminalization of a given form of conduct, for example, the dumping of toxic wastes in the environment, is both a signal of how accepted the prohibition has become within the culture, and a catalyst to further cultural change cultural defenses are more likely to succeed when "they comport with the dominant social norms prevalent in American society." 

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