The innovative theory of the "criminal spin" presents a phenomenological description and interpretation of criminal conduct. The theory indicates a process that occurs in different phases of criminality, involving an escalation of criminal activity, thinking, and emotions that run beyond self-control, sometimes contrary to initial decision. Its phenomenology indicates an interaction between individual, group, and situation and a growing self-centeredness with two leading motives: "I can" and "I must." The first denotes a perceived legitimacy and capability to perform criminal conduct. The second reflects an existential threat and a belief that it must be removed by any action. These motives may operate in an acute or a chronic phase, within individuals, groups, or societies. The spin is a detectable process with known characteristics and prognosis. Implications for intervention are outlined.