A sociopath is defined as someone who is suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sociopaths show a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights and feelings of others.
While it's common to think of sociopaths as criminals, even killers, such behavior isn't essential to the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. The criteria include that the patient must be 18 or older and have shown certain behaviors consistently over time and circumstances.
Things Sociopaths Do...
Scheming, deceiving, tricking, conniving -- call it what you want, but antisocial individuals are always putting one over on somebody to get whatever it is they are after. Many are polished con artists, highly skilled at deceiving people. They get into character and play the part, skillfully duping others into believing that they really are the caring doctor, the dutiful wife, the sensitive do-gooder or the generous contributor, all the while misusing and taking advantage of people and the environment in which they've placed themselves. The highly-respected politician or minister who was always viewed as a pillar of the community who is one day caught doing something awful that nobody would have ever thought possible is a classic example of an antisocial personality finally exposed. Once caught, antisocials often continue faking the role of model citizen or leader, insisting they are guilty of nothing, acting as if they have been unjustly accused, no matter the mountain of solid evidence. Or they may choose to fake contrition, pleading for forgiveness for that single, solitary supposed "mistake", when in reality, they have been very deftly conning trusting people for years and will continue to do so their whole lives.
2. THEY CHARM.
Antisocial people know that in order to accomplish the things they want that they're not entitled to, they need to get others out of the way first, because others will expose the unfairness of what they do, and that's a hassle. One of the ways they do this is by charming others into believing they are wonderful (or that they're victims). They will turn on the charm (or victim-act) whenever they're in the presence of someone whose admiration and trust they must gain in order to get what they want. Antisocials need no acting classes. They are astute observers of human behavior because by studying peoples' weaknesses, they learn best how to exploit them. Depending on their social environment, beneath their cleverly constructed veneer, they may be unethical businesspeople, street hustlers, con artists, crooked salesmen, or just plain shady personalities overall. They find it very easy to "play" people, take advantage of them, and then expertly avoid or deflect all responsibility onto whomever is handiest - sadly, often the victim themselves.
3. THEY ARE THOUGHTLESS.
Antisocial personalities don't really care about anything but self-gratification. They don't care about anyone other than themselves, and they don't even care if they are caught and punished for what they do. Consequences for wrongdoing simply roll off their backs, and they continue on in life, which is something they consider to be nothing more than a little game of putting one over on people to get hold of things they want. They don't think about you, they don't think about society, they don't think about whether someone is getting hurt or if something is fair (except when they need to in order to figure out how to get around people who have such sensibilities.) Beneath the fakery, their attitude in life is summed up by thoughts like, "Who cares", "It's (the victim's) fault they got taken", and "I'm gonna get just what I want; watch this brilliant move...ha ha...the idiot fell for it!" All the while, playing innocent and sweet to prevent being caught.
4. THEY ARE IMPULSIVE.
The antisocial mind is focused on instant gratification and how to acquire it. Antisocial people don't often think about consequences, typically. Poor impulse control, limited ability (or inability) to delay gratification and put their interests second to others are common. Aggression, though not present in all antisocial people, is also common. These types tend to have a "short fuse" and are prone to lashing out without warning, threatening others, and physical assault. Many others, however, are considered "sub-criminal" sociopaths who live more quietly unempathic, socially deceptive and emotionally hurtful lives, and are more prone to sub-criminal interpersonal victimization. Recklessness and disregard for their own safety and the safety of others is often (but not always) seen in antisocial personalities.
5. THEY DON'T LIKE RULES.
Rules -- social rules, legal rules, reasonable expectations -- these aren't welcome constraints to antisocial individuals. After all, rules are made by others, and others don't matter to antisocial people. (Many will hide the fact that they don't care about anyone in order to gain influence and hide their true intentions. And they conceal their lack of caring well - feigning the empathy they lack, expertly mimicking those around them and blending in.) Depending on the individual and his or her particular combination of traits and characteristics, the antisocial person may covertly and sneakily break rules when no-one is watching, consistently blatantly break rules in full view and boast about their ability to do so, or any combination of the two. Some are prone to bragging about rules they have broken or offenses they have committed. Whether overt or covert, their disregard and contempt for reasonable interpersonal expectations, inability to abide by laws, gross inability to honor agreements, lack of respect for boundaries, and rejection of healthy norms and requirements are common among antisocial individuals.