The Types of Criminal Law

Criminal law refers to the body of law that is related to crime. Generally speaking, criminal law comes into effect when an individual commits an undesirable act. It refers to the conduct of any person that is threatening or harmful, causing danger to the property, health, safety, and moral welfare of people.

When it comes to crimes, two parts come under the concern of the law. The first is called actus reus, and it refers to a physical action or threat of action when committing a crime. The second is called mens rea, and it is the proof of a guilty mind, or the intent to cause harm. Both parts can be present during the crime, but they need not necessarily be. Based on this, different degrees of justice can be sought through a criminal trial.

Types of Criminal Law Cases

There are several types of criminal law cases that are usually categorized into the following:

  • General Offenses:

    The crimes that fall under this category are aggravated assault, robbery, embezzlement, theft, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, perjury, false statements, and resisting arrest. All of these can happen in varying degrees. You may have heard of the terms ‘first-degree murder’, ‘second-degree murder’, and ‘third-degree murder’, each of which represents a different extent to which the acts can take place in terms of the physical act (actus reus) and/or the intent to harm (mens rea).

  • DUI/Traffic Offenses:

    DUI stands for ‘Driving Under the Influence’ and refers to driving after consuming alcohol. This is determined by the levels of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream when they are driving a vehicle. There are different levels of DUIs as well such as aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, and extreme DUI. Some other crimes that fall under this category are drag racing, driving on a suspended or expired license, aggravated driving, reckless driving, and endangerment to others.

  • Sex Offenses:

    Sex crimes are committed against the chastity of a person. If a person is violated in any way that pertains to their self and body, it is considered to be a crime. Crimes that fall under this category include molestation, sexual abuse, sexual assault, public indecency, cyber-crimes of a sexual nature such as pornography or soliciting sexual content, failure to register as a sex offender, and any of these crimes committed against minors.

  • White Collar Crimes:

    White-collar crimes are financially motivated, usually non-violent crimes. These can include environmental crimes, fraudulent schemes, extortion, issues of professional licensing, money laundering, racketeering, and regulatory crimes.

  • Miscellaneous Crimes:

    Crimes occupy a diverse spectrum. Due to this, there could be several kinds of crimes that do not fall into the above categories but are still considered under criminal law.

There are several penalties for crimes that are tried under criminal law. People who commit crimes usually face penalties of punishment or retribution. These can be imprisonment, execution/death penalty, parole, probation, and fines. The punishment may vary based on jurisdiction, and depends on the trial and the jury that decides the sentence.