What is Criminal Law all About?

Crime has become rampant across the globe. Each country defines its criminal laws to punish offenders and warn the public of the consequences of conducting such acts.

Criminal law is a specific field of law that defines such activities for which an individual could face arrest, trial, or incarceration. Such activities are known as criminal offenses.

When we hear the words, criminal offense, we immediately conjure up images of murder, theft, or any other such violent conduct. However, you will be surprised to know that crimes are not restricted to these but cover a wide variety of acts.

A criminal offense can be understood as a concurrence of:

  • Criminal act:

    Also known as “actus reus” is an act or failure to act.

  • Criminal Intent:

    This is also known as “mens rea” which essentially pertains to the intent behind the criminal act.

  • Causing social harm:

    Any act is defined as a crime only if it causes social harm.

When these three occur in concurrence, then it is established as a crime. The individual guilty of the crime is known as the defendant. He has a right to get represented in the court of law to plead to the Judge. He has the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney. He is punished only when is found guilty against all reasonable doubt. What this implies is that the crime must be proven on all accounts and the 3 aspects mentioned above must concur.

Punishable criminal offenses may be crimes conducted against:

  • An individual
  • State
  • Habitation
  • Property
  • Public order
  • Administration of justice

After a crime has occurred, the police investigation is conducted and it goes all the way to a court trial and appeal. The public prosecutor represents the state against the defendant and the defendant has a criminal lawyer to represent him.

Criminal laws are formulated to prohibit the conduct of acts that can harm or threaten harm to an individual or public interest. These laws clearly define criminal acts that can be punished. They also clearly differentiate between minor and serious offenses.

Criminal laws have a vital role to play in a civilized society. They help protect citizens from criminals who are likely to cause harm to others or in society. Besides, they also help settle disputes and make it easier for the government to collect taxes or accomplish any other such task.

In the context of criminal law, you must have come across the phrase, “criminal procedure.” However, criminal procedure is quite different from criminal law. While the former focuses on “how a criminal law is enforced”, the latter has more to do with “what law is enforced.”

Criminal laws that are drafted must be clear and nondiscriminatory. While these laws must punish the guilty, the punishment must not be retroactive or cruel.

In the United States, criminal laws are governed by local, State, and Federal rules and regulations. Each state in the US has its own code of criminal statutes. The established rules ensure that the laws are adhered to while safeguarding the rights of its people.

If you are looking for legal representation in a criminal case, you can consult the criminal defense attorneys at Autrey Law Firm!