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Criminal law

Criminal law

This occasionally called penal law. Criminal Law refers to any of different bodies of rules in diverse jurisdictions whose common distinctive is the potential for unique and often rigorous impositions as punishment for failure to comply. Criminal law includes prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. Civil cases, on the other hand, include individuals and organizations seeking to determine legal arguments.

If you are interested in learning more about criminal justice and law, a masters in criminal justice will provide you with a broad range of skills to prepare you for a career in one of those fields.

Having an official degree will extend your career possibilties. Online education also enables you to juggle your educational and vocational interests.

A "crime" is any act or omission (of an act) in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Although there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws differ considerably from state to state. There is, however, a Model Penal Code (MPC) which serves as a good starting place to increase an understanding of the basic organization of criminal responsibility.

Criminal punishment, may include execution, loss of liberty, government supervision (parole or probation), or fines. Crimes incorporate both felonies (more serious offenses -- like murder or rape) and misdemeanors (less serious offenses -- like minor theft or jaywalking). Felonies are frequently crimes punishable by incarceration of a year or more, while misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than a year. However, no act is a crime if it has not been previously established as such either by statute or common law. Lately, the list of Federal crimes dealing with activities extending further than state boundaries or having particular impact on federal operations has developed.

All statutes involving criminal actions can be broken down into their different elements. Most crimes (with the exception of strict-liability crimes) consist of two elements: an act, or "actus reus," and a mental state, or "mens rea". Prosecutors have to establish each and every element of the crime to surrender a conviction. Also, the prosecutor must influence the jury or judge "beyond a reasonable doubt" of every fact indispensable to represent the crime charged. In civil cases, the applicant requirements to show a defendant is responsible only by a "preponderance of the evidence," or more than 50%.

Criminal Sanctions

Criminal law is characteristic for the exclusively serious potential consequences of failure to abide by its rules. Capital punishment may be obligatory in some jurisdictions for the most serious crimes. Physical or corporal punishment may be imposed such as whipping or caning, though these punishments are forbidden in much of the world. Individuals may be confined in prison or jail in a diversity of situation depending on the jurisdiction. Fines also may be obligatory, seizing money or property from a person convicted of a crime.

There are five objectives extensively established for enforcement of the criminal law by punishments: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. Jurisdictions vary on the value to be positioned on each.
  • Retribution - Criminals ought to suffer in some way. This is the most widely seen goal. Retribution supports that proportionate punishment is a morally satisfactory response to crime, regardless of whether the sentence causes any tangible benefits.
    Proportionality needs that the level of punishment be scaled relative to the severity of the offending behavior. However, this does not signify that the punishment has to be corresponding to the crime.

  • Deterrence - Individual deterrence is aimed toward the precise criminal. The aim is to oblige a sufficient punishment to discourage the delinquent from criminal procedures. Deterrence is often contrasted with retributive, which holds that penalty is a required consequence of a crime and should be considered based on the magnitude of the wrong done. By imposing a penalty on those who commit crimes, other individuals are discouraged from committing those crimes.

  • Incapacitation - Designed basically to keep criminals away from society so that the community is protected from their misconduct. This is often accomplished during prison sentences today. The death punishment or banishment has served the similar intention.

  • Rehabilitation - Aims at changing a delinquent into an important member of society. Its most important object is to avoid further criminal by persuasive the offender that their behavior was wrong.

  • Restitution - This is a victim-oriented supposition of penalty. The purpose is to restore, during state authority, any harm inflicted on the victim by the offender. For example, the person who embezzles will be necessary to repay the amount inappropriately purchased. Restitution is usually shared with other main goals of criminal justice and is closely associated to concepts in the civil law.

Selected Criminal Laws

Many laws are imposed by menace of criminal penalty, and their details may differ widely from place to place. The whole universe of criminal law is too vast to intelligently catalog. However, the following are some aspects of the criminal law.


The criminal law usually prohibits disagreeable acts. Thus, evidence of a crime needs evidence of some act. Scholars label this the condition of an “actus reus” or guilty act. Some crimes — principally modern regulatory offenses — need no more, and they are known as strict responsibility offenses. Nevertheless, because of the potentially strict consequences of criminal certainty, judges at common law also required evidence of an intent to do some bad thing, the “mens rea” or guilty mind. As to crimes of which both “actus reus” and “mens rea” are necessities, judges have terminated that the fundamentals must be present at specifically the same moment and it is not enough that they occurred consecutively at diverse times.

Actus reus

Actus reus is Latin for "guilty act" and is the physical factor of committing a crime. It may be consummate by an action, by threat of action, or extraordinarily, by an omission to act. For example, a parent's failure to give food to a young child also may offer the actus reus for a crime.

Mens rea

Mens rea is another Latin expression, significance "guilty mind." A guilty mind means a purpose to perpetrate some illegal act. Purpose under criminal law is dividing from a person's intention. If Mr. Johnson robs from rich Mr. Nottingham because his intention is to give the money to poor people, his "good intentions" do not vary his criminal purpose to commit robbery.

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