Criminal law can be defined as a system of laws concerning crimes and punishment for the crimes. It can be very clearly distinguished from laws concerning civil matters, also known as civil law. In a criminal prosecution, usually, a deciding body with authority is power is present. This body decides whether the act committed by the individual is right or wrong according to the laws of the land. These very laws of the land are criminal laws.
Black Law Dictionary defines “crime: as an “act that is either committed or omitted.” This act takes place in clear violation of public law.
A good society is based on proper laws. It plays a very important part in shaping the framework of a fully functioning society. It is responsible for defining the lines of crime and punishing them accordingly. It is very important to keep criminal offenses from being repeated by individuals.
This article delves into the primary constituents of criminal law in the United States.
What Is Criminal Law? What Is Its Purpose?
The exact purpose of criminal law is to protect the residents of a nation from harm as well as their personal properties.
- It ensures peaceful questions and coexistence among the members. It is a prerequisite for having law and order in the society.
- It is a deterrent. The punishment fitted according to the laws of the land prevents offenders from becoming repeat offenders.
- It leads to the establishment of norms.
- It sets a very clear boundary of what is to be considered lawful.
What Is Substantive Criminal Law?
The domain of criminal law with an emphasis on substantive rather than procedural problems is termed substantive criminal law. It deals with aspects that are deemed to be essential for a crime to be proven. As an example, illicit conduct, the accused individual’s motivation, or adding to the aggravating elements.
The justice system of the United States of America follows these principles to ensure adherence to criminal statutes of the nation.
Presumption of Innocence
Not just in the United States. Countries all over the world believe in the innocence of the accused unless they are proven guilty through enough evidence. The prosecutor in the case should provide evidence “beyond reasonable doubts” to prove the accused of conviction.
Fair Trial of the Accused
Every individual who is convicted of a crime has the right to a free and fair trial. This due process of law is to be followed to avoid unfair treatment of all parties to a crime.
Right to Legal Representation
Each individual in the United States has the right to an attorney. If they cannot afford legal representation, a criminal attorney is provided by the court.
Equality before law
Each resident of the United States has the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law. This is to ensure that there is no discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Punishment in proportion to the crime
There should be no disparity between the crime committed and the corresponding punishment. It should fit the offense.
The doctrine of double jeopardy
A person cannot be punished for the same crime more than once. If a person is proven guilty of committing theft, they can only be punished, for that particular crime, once.
These are instead of rules and regulations that are established through multiple actors of the society.
a. Law enforcement agencies.
b. Prosecutor representing the criminals.
c. Defense lawyers who plead on behalf of the accused.
d. And the judges who decide whether an accused is to be acquitted or convicted.
Federal Criminal Law of the United States
These are a few of the federal statutes established to punish federal criminal crimes. These statutes outline the crime as well as the punishments.
The United States Code
This statutory body contains various titles addressing different crimes. Title 18 of this code contains a major list of all federal criminal offenses. Some of them include fraud, drug trafficking, firearms offenses, organized crime, money laundering, terrorism, and computer crimes.
Controlled Substances Act
This federal statute deals with the manufacture, possession, and distribution of illegal drugs. These drugs are divided into schedules, depending on their chances of abuse and medical use. The schedules determine the extent of punishment.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
It criminalizes unauthorized access to computers. This statute also was a major step taken to combat the growing rates of cybercrime.
The Money Laundering Act
It deals with crimes related to illegal monetary transactions. It was designed to tackle illicit funds and stop concealed criminal proceeds.
Wrapping it Up!
The understanding of criminal law is incomplete without learning about its difference from civil law. Civil law deals with activities affecting individuals for which damages can be compensated using reparation or monetary support. It encompasses crimes against the community as well as offenses that are harmful to individuals. The penalty for the wrongdoing is the imprisonment or other punishments of the perpetrator. Criminal law deals with public liability, whereas civil law deals with private liability. Examples of breaches of civil law include Corporate law, Family law, Property law, Media law, Sports law, and the like. Criminal statutes deal with Murder, kidnapping, robbery, and the like.
Hope you enjoyed reading and found the article informative!