Legal Maxim

Home » Omne Majus Continet In Se Minus


Meaning

“The greater contains or embraces the less”.

Origin

This maxim was suggested in the book “A Selection of Legal Maxims, Classified and Illustrated” by Herbert Broom. It’s a Latin Maxim.

Explanation

It’s a maxim used in criminal law. When this maxim is applied it literally means when a person is convicted for a greater offense, he can also be charged with smaller offenses as well. He can be convicted for a minor offense as well.

Illustration

A person charged for homicide can be convicted for manslaughter as well.

Case laws

State of New Jersey vs. Andrew [232 A. 2d 477 (1967)], Justice Kapp of the superior court of New Jersey held that “It is fundamental that a party indicted for a crime may be convicted of any offense of a lower grade, provided such lower offense is included within the description of the indictment.” He further held that “This rule of court, R.R. 3:7-9(c) (of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated), is declaratory of the maxim, omne majus continet in se minus … the greater contains the less.”

In People of the State of New York vs. Psaty & Fuhrman [240 NYS 2d 830 (1963)], Justice William Ringel held that “The People contend that the power to revoke includes the lesser power to suspend the permit (omne majus continet in se minus). Many cases are cited in support of this position.”


(This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Navya Sony during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Navya is a final year law student of Symbiosis Law School, Pune.)