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Criminal Law

Criminal Law

A Brief Overview of Criminal Law

April 29, 2017

Criminal and penal law refers to the same type of law. Punishments under these laws can be severe and unique depending on the offense and the jurisdiction. Imprisonment, execution, parole, probation and fines are the most common forms of punishment. On occasion, the lines between civil and criminal law become blurred.

The first written code of law was produced by the Sumarians. Civil and criminal law were not separated in these early codes.

The potential for serious consequences and for failure to follow the rules makes criminal law unique. If imprisonment is ordered, it can be solitary and span the lifetime of the individual. House arrest is another form of confinement that requires individuals to follow rules set forth by probation or parole department. Money and property can also be taken from those who are convicted.

Five categories of penalties include punishment, retribution, deterrence, incapacitation and restitution. These punishments will vary among jurisdictions..

For crimes that have an effect on entire areas and societies because of their heinous nature, public international law applies. Public International Law began following World War 2 with the Nuremberg Trials. These trials marked the beginning of individuals being held accountable even though they were acting on behalf of their government. They cannot claim sovereign immunity.

Creating a fear of punishment is how most laws are enforced.

Generally, undesirable acts are forbidden by criminal law. Actus reus, or guilty act, requires evidence that a crime was committed by an action, a threat of action or a lack of action. Actus reus requires a physical element. If someone is in charge of caring for someone else, whether by contract, blood relation living together or through an official position then actus reus applies. It also applies to situations that are dangerous as a result of one. ‘s own actions. This is where the Good Samaritan Laws apply.

Some crimes, such as regulatory offenses, require no more. These crimes are called strict liability offenses. Due to the potential severity of consequences, proof of intent must be met. Proof of a guilty mind, or mens rea, is required.

For crimes that require both to be present, actus reus and mens rea must be present at the same time. They cannot occur at different times.

Nullifying actus reus can occur by proving that the harm to a person would have happened anyway. If you run a red light and injury a person, actus reus will not be nullified because their injury was a direct result of your intended action.

Mens rea, or a guilty mind, means that there was intention to violate the law. Under criminal law; intention and motive or not the same. Good intentions do not negate criminal intentions

If a defendant realizes that an act is hazardous but does it anyway, they have met the mens rea requirement. It is known as recklessness. Courts often consider if the individual should have realized the risk or not. Mens rea has been reduced in some areas of criminal law because if the individual should have known the risk, but did not, intent is erased.

The seriousness of an offense can vary due to intent. If an individual has the intent of killing or causing bodily harm that could result in death, it is murder. If someone is killed because of recklessness it could be manslaughter. It does not matter who is actually harmed by the act. If you intend to hit someone but, end up hitting someone else, your intent is then transferred to that person. This is called transferred malice.

Strict liability is a generally used in civil law. It is harm caused by a defendant regardless of intent or mens reas. Not all crimes require specific intent.

Murder is the most often targeted act under criminal law. Some jurisdictions have levels of severity for murder. First degree murder is based on intent and requires malice. Manslaughter is a killing committed in without malice being present. It is often brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity.. A killing involving reckless can be considered involuntary manslaughter in areas that have that offense.

Settled insanity is a possible defense.

Assault and battery can create criminal liability. Rape is considered a form battery

Trespassing falls under criminal law as does conversion, theft, embezzlement and robbery.

Knowing about a crime or conspiring to commit one can result in criminal charges even if the crime itself is never committed. Some examples of this are: aiding, abetting, conspiracy, and attempt.

 

Criminal Law

Consequences of a Crime Under Criminal Law

April 18, 2017

The concept of punishment makes a major distinction between criminal law and civil law. While in civil law there is no prosecution per se; rather a reimbursement to the plaintiff by the losing defendant, in criminal law a guilty defendant is punished by imprisonment, fines, or the death penalty. In criminal law, maximum sentences on felonies could go to up to a jail term of one year and for misdemeanors a maximum sentence of less than one year. A civil case conducted under tort law can lead to punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct is proved to have intentions for malicious action (cause harm), negligence, willful disregard to other people’s rights.

Compensation for the Plaintiff under Criminal Law

These damages are usually significant in torts that involve such cases as privacy invasion, which may involve a dignitary; and civil rights in cases where the injury or harm done when translated to monetary form is minimal or negligible. Punitive damages are usually intended to teach the public a lesson through the defendant so that the same act may not be repeated. However, these damages are never awarded under contract law where there is a previous contract or agreement involved beforehand.

Tort claims can be paid through insurance that is purchased specifically to pay damages and also to cover the attorney’s fees. This insurance is similar to the standard insurance purchased for business, homeowners and vehicle. However, the defendant may not be able to purchase the same to make payments for his/her offense under Criminal Law.

 

If the defendant is ordered to pay for damages and he/she does not have assets or insurance or has hidden the assets carefully, the plaintiff will receive nothing in damages. Therefore, large claims awarded to plaintiffs for damages are often a waste of time.

The outcome of a case is considered effective to an extend where punishment may not necessarily transform a criminal found guilty under either criminal law or civil law or stop them from committing the same act again. As rational as human-beings are thought to be, criminals are thought to be irrational and it is not considered that they will be caught a second or third time; hence, continuous offense without consideration of possible punishment. However, denial of criminals’ movement rights by enclosing them in prison for a certain period of time may be seen as a much more effective punishment. Therefore, criminal proceeding under criminal law is seen to have more serious impact than under civil law. People tend to choose the loss of freedom rather than the payment of heavy fines that may not necessarily be available to the defendants.

 

Criminal Law

The Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law

February 10, 2017

There are two comprehensive categories of law used in the United States legal system: civil law and criminal law. Although separate types of cases, some crimes can be both a civil and criminal violation of law. Continue reading to learn the differences between civil and criminal law, as well as, examples of such cases.

Civil Law

Civil law is the area of the American legal system that manages disputes or wrong-doings between private parties. A common example of such cases involve injuries. If someone is wrongfully injured by another person demonstrating negligence or malicious intent, they can ask the courts to decide who is at-fault and if the negligent party should pay remuneration to the injured person. The same goes for family law and divorce cases, disagreements over property ownership, breach of contracts, wrongful terminations, and more.

Anyone found guilty of a civil crime or infraction will not be subjected to jail time, government fines, or capital punishment. Instead, most civil litigations end with a negligent party being order to compensate the injured party for their losses and any additional damages caused by the defendant’s negligence. Recompense is often times paid by the defendant’s insurance provider, but sometimes, they must pay out-of-pocket. If they have no money, assets, or insurance, an injured person may not receive any recompense, even if it is court-ordered.

As for burden of proof, civil cases and criminal cases differ greatly. In civil law, the plaintiff has the burden of proving their damages or the negligent act of the opposing party. Once the plaintiff party reveals their proof of negligence, the defendant also has a burden to disprove the plaintiff’s proof and convince the courts of their innocence. In a civil case, a plaintiff and a defendant must hire and pay for their own attorney, or choose to defend themselves. Only in criminal cases will the state offer a lawyer for free.

Criminal Law

In contrast to civil law, criminal law involves crimes against the state, government, or society in whole, rather than a private party or person. Criminal violations, like felonies and misdemeanors, are subjected to state and federal punishment; therefore, guilty person’s face jail time, governmental fines, and in extreme cases, the death penalty. Although a murder is a crime against a person, the crime itself goes against state and federal law, therefore making it a criminal case, rather than a civil one. These cases go to a jury trial where defendants are prosecuted by the state. In criminal litigation, defendants are allowed to appoint their own attorney, or have one appointed to them by the state if they cannot afford to pay for one themselves.

In criminal law, the burden of proof shifts to a more complex principle. First, it is always up to the state prosecutors to provide evidence in order to prove that a defendant is guilty. All people are innocent until proven guilty, so the defendant has no burden of proving their own innocence at all in a criminal case. There are a few exceptions to this rule, in the case of insanity claims and self-defense claims. The state has the responsibility of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a defendant is guilty of the crime in question. There has to be virtually 100% certainty that a defendant is guilty for a jury to hand down a guilty verdict.