According to criminal law, when offenses are committed that are detrimental to the society, these are labelled as crimes. It is expressed in common law jurisdiction, that a legal concern is committed when a crime disturbs the peace of people and society. The agents of sovereign are government officials, and they are responsible for the prosecution of offenders. Under criminal law, the plaintiff refers to, in practical terms, as the monarch or the people.
Deterrence and punishment are the major objectives of criminal law, while civil law is individual compensation. The physical act or the actus reur or guilty act and the requisite mental state of which the act is done or mens rea or guilty mind, are the two distinct elements of a criminal offence. Let us take for example a murder case, it is the unlawful killing of a person that is the element of actus reus, and the intention to kill or cause grievous injury is the element of mens rea. The criminal law specifies the punishment that will be put on the concern person, and it also would require the defendants to detail their defences so that their criminal responsibility will be lessen or negated. It is not the nature of the criminal law to require a victim or a victim’s consent to prosecute the offender. Also, the consent of the victim cannot be a defence in most crimes, and note that even with the objections of the victim, a criminal prosecution can take place.
In the common and civil law traditions, criminal law in most jurisdictions is divided into two areas. One is that to address the violations of criminal law, what regulates the process is the criminal procedure. Next is the substantive criminal law that would detail the definition of and punishments for in the different crimes.
With criminal law, crimes from civil wrongs like tort or breach of contract are distinguished from the other. While civil law has the objective of primarily directing relationships between groups and individuals and their obligations and rights under the law, criminal law is viewed as a system of regulating individuals and groups in relation to the whole society. Several ancient legal systems did not clearly define the distinction between criminal and civil law until the nineteenth century. The English common criminal law of 1750 has become the basic course in criminal law in most U.S. law schools.
The different kinds of criminal law are arrests and searches, drug crimes, juvenile law, drunk driving, parole, probation, pardons, violent crimes, white collar crimes and military law.
Note that criminal law is also known as penal law which is a term used to address to the different rule bodies in certain jurisdictions.
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