Most of us think that we know everything there is to know about criminal law and its procedures due to the various information that we get from television programs and movies. Although such information may be quite factual, when you are faced with a real life crime situation and have to go through the criminal justice system, the need for knowledge about the basics of criminal law becomes very apparent. Here is an introduction to criminal law, which will provide you with valuable knowledge on the subject.
What Is Criminal Law?
Criminal laws are enacted to safeguard the public from crimes and criminals and make the society a safer place to live in. Let us see what exactly constitutes a ‘crime’ under criminal law.
The criminal laws explain the exact nature of the actions which are deemed as a crime, the situations in which such actions will be viewed as criminal, and also the required mentality and intentions of the person who is committing the crime. Punishments for such criminal actions are not always described in all criminal laws but are only laid down sometimes.
The Criminal Law Structure
The structure or system of criminal law is such that it includes almost everybody who may be involved with criminal actions, directly or indirectly and also the entire criminal process as well. The processes that are included in criminal law are:
The people who are a part of the criminal law structure are:
Criminal laws do not only apply to the person who committed the crime but also lay down certain rules and regulations that govern the actions of police officers and lawyers. A person accused has some rights under criminal and constitutional law such as the right to a lawyer and to a fair and speedy trial. These rights cannot be violated by any of the people involved in the criminal law system.
If any person is found to have committed any crime as laid down in the criminal laws, then a criminal case is brought against that person by the state. The result of the case depends on the type of crime committed, the evidence collected through investigation, testimony of witnesses, legal law enforcement in accordance with the criminal laws, and a valid court trial.
Many times there is no arrest made even though a crime has been committed because of lack of sufficient evidence. If an arrest is made, but is not done according to the rules of criminal laws, then the accused may be acquitted because of illegal law enforcement procedures.
If any criminal case does go to trial, then either the accused will be acquitted or found guilty by the jury. In case of a conviction, the criminal is then sentenced and is punished according to the nature of the crime. Possible punishments as described in criminal laws include community service, fines, imprisonment, probate, or even death under the severest of conditions.
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