Johnson & Autrey Law Firm - What is Criminal Law?

What is Criminal Law

To provide safe and secure living conditions, countries have specified certain laws. These can be broadly classified as civil and criminal laws.

While civil laws pertain to injuries or harm caused at an individual level, criminal laws address offense against the public, although the actual victim may be an individual.

The three key elements in a criminal case are:

  1. “The act” of crime
  2. The mental state of the individual when the crime was committed
  3. The “cause and effect” of the act

Criminal law deals with identifying the individual responsible for committing a crime and proving him guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Once a defendant has been proven guilty, the offender is required to provide retribution for the harm done.

In a criminal case, the onus is on the government to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

Criminal law encompasses:

  • Defining criminal offenses
  • Apprehension and charging of suspects
  • Court trial
  • Determining penalties and other punitive measures.

The offender is punished for the crime committed and the punishment meted out is proportional to the gravity of the crime. However, the type of punishment to be meted out has undergone a sea of change over the years.

The new-age rationalistic approach to dealing with crimes is based on the premise that the objective of criminal law is the prevention of crime. There was a shift from punishing the offender to reforming him to build a safer society.

Each country has its specific variants regarding criminal cases and laws. In the USA, the common law of crimes is repealed by legislation. This implies that an individual cannot be tried for a criminal offense that is not specified in the statutory laws of the state.

In the US, a criminal case can be filed against an individual in case of the following types of crimes:

  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Inchoate offenses
  • Strict liability offenses

However, each state and the federal government can determine those conducts that can be considered as criminal acts.

There are different grounds on which a criminal is defended.

In case the attorney prosecuting the offender fails to provide the necessary evidence to incriminate the individual, the defendant can’t be proved guilty.

If there is a mistake in understanding the law or regarding the facts of the case.

A criminal lawyer can defend his client using any of the following defenses:

If the act was committed for self-defense:

In case, the defendant committed the act to defend property or another individual.
Some acts that are deemed as criminal might fall in the category of “necessity”. These are unlawful conducts done to avoid greater harm.

This is a brief overview of what criminal law is and related concepts. Criminal lawyers defend this accused of such crimes.

In case you are the defendant in a criminal case, you will require the services of an experienced criminal lawyer.

Johnson & Autrey law firm has the best team of criminal lawyers who are licensed to practice law in State, federal, and judicial courts in North Dakota and Minnesota!


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