Cognate Offense Law and Legal Definition

Cognate offense refers to a lesser offense that is related to the greater offense because it shares several of the elements of the greater offense and is of the same class or category. For example, shoplifting is a cognate offense of larceny because both crimes require the element of taking property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of that property.

At common law a jury might convict of a cognate offense of the same character but of a less aggravated nature if the words of the indictment were wide enough to cover such an offence.[People v. Novak, 163 Ill. 2d 93 (Ill. 1994)