mid-13c., "sinfulness, infraction of the laws of God," from Old French crimne "crime, mortal sin" (12c., Modern French crime), from Latin crimen (genitive criminis "charge, indictment, accusation; crime, fault, offense," which probably is from cernere "to decide, to sift" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").
Klein (citing Brugmann) rejects this and suggests *cri-men, which originally would have been "cry of distress" (Tucker also suggests a root in "cry" words and refers to English plaint, plaintiff, etc.). But de Vaan accepts that it is from cernere (compare discriminate).
The meaning "offense punishable by law, act or omission which the law punishes in the name of the state" is from late 14c. The sense of "any great wickedness or wrongdoing" is from 1510s. The Latin word is glossed in Old English by facen, which also meant "deceit, fraud, treachery." Crime wave is attested by 1893, American English.
1660s, "declare guilty of a crime;" 1670s, "censure, hold up to blame," from Latin criminatus, past participle of criminare "to accuse of a crime," from crimen (genitive criminis) "crime" (see crime). Related: Crimination (1580s).
mid-14c., "loss of property as punishment for a crime, debt, etc.," from Old French forfaiture "crime, transgression; penalty for committing a crime" (12c.), from forfait (see forfeit (n.)).
c. 1300, "treachery, betrayal; deceit; villainy, wickedness, sin, crime; violent temper, wrath; ruthlessness; evil intention," from Old French felonie (12c.) "wickedness, evil, treachery, perfidy, crime, cruelty, sin," from Gallo-Roman *fellonia, from fellonem "evil-doer" (see felon).
As a class of crime in common law, also from c. 1300, from Anglo-French. The exact definition changed over time and place, and even the distinction from misdemeanor or trespass is not always observed. In old use often a crime involving forfeiture of lands, goods, or a fee or a crime punishable by death. Variously used in the U.S.; often the sense is "crime punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary."
c. 1400, "sinful, wicked;" mid-15c., "of or pertaining to a legally punishable offense, of the nature of a crime;" late 15c., "guilty of crime," from Old French criminel, criminal "criminal, despicable, wicked" (11c.) and directly from Late Latin criminalis "pertaining to crime," from Latin crimen (genitive criminis); see crime. It preserves the Latin -n-. Other adjectives include criminous (mid-15c.), criminative. Criminal law (or criminal justice) has been distinguished from civil in English at least since late 15c.
1550s, "subordinate;" c. 1600, "aiding in crime;" 1610s, "aiding in producing some effect," from Late Latin accessorius, from accessor, agent noun from accedere "to approach" (see accede). Meaning "aiding in crime" is from c. 1600.