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What You Should Know About Criminal Law

General Criminal Law Overview

Criminal law is an essential body of law and a very important legal practice. Without the establishment of criminal law and recognized punishments for violating these laws, it is likely that crime rates would be much higher than they are now.

Throughout the history of human civilization, criminal law has acted to deter individuals from partaking in harmful or dangerous behavior. This has been accomplished through the establishment of harsh and severe punishments that are imposed upon individuals who are responsible for disregarding the law.

Without laws and regulations, citizens would be free to take part in any activity that they desired. They would be more apt to act on impulse and give into negative emotions because they would not receive legal repercussions for their actions. Therefore, chaos would be widespread.

All forms of crime would likely increase a great deal in frequency. Individuals who were not fond of another person may take part in assault or homicide because they would not need to fear capital punishment or incarceration. Drug possession, use, and distribution would be much more widespread than it is today. If an individual wanted something, he or she could take it without purchasing it.

Although the necessity of criminal law is very evident, there are still many concerns about judicial procedures. It is important that the problems and the complications that exist in criminal law be acknowledged and addressed.


There are various different reasons why a criminal punishment will be imposed upon an individual who is responsible for violating the law. Each punishment has different goals and aims and various things can be accomplished by handing a criminal sentence to an offender who has caused harm or injury to another person.

In general, the majority of people in the United States believe that a perpetrator should be punished for any crimes that he or she commits. Using this mentality, criminals receive criminal sentences as a form of punishment for their actions.

However, the use of criminal law to impose punishment upon an offender is a controversial topic. Many people believe that it is wrong to punish individuals who have violated the law because the law is supposed to be emotionless and the use of punishment implies that some form of emotion is present in court proceedings. Instead, these individuals believe that the criminal justice system should focus on deterrence and rehabilitation.

Criminal sentences should be imposed in order to improve society, not to exact revenge on an offender. Therefore, when a criminal punishment is decided upon the judge should take into consideration how this punishment will effectively benefit the community. This could be by incarcerating criminals to keep dangerous offenders off of the streets. It may also be by providing criminals with education and counseling services while they are in prison so that they may grow and develop to be productive and positive members of the community.

In some instances, an individual who has caused harm or damage to another person or to another person's property will be required to repay his or her victim or his or her community with money or with time and services.

Criminal sentences such as these help ensure that the criminal justice system is not just seeking to get even with criminals, but that the system is investing time and resources into helping criminals improve and transforming them into law abiding citizens. If this is not a possible outcome, then criminal law should be primarily concerned with keeping the public safe from dangerous individuals.

Major Aspects

Sometimes it is difficult to discern if an action or a behavior should be considered a crime. Not all harmful and detrimental behavior is carried out with malicious intent. Accidents occur that may have devastating and irreversible results. However, if an individual did not intend to harm anyone, then it seems unreasonable for them to be incarcerated with murderers and repeat violent offenders.

Some individuals should not be sentenced to criminal punishments because they do not deserve the harsh realities of imprisonment. In situations such as this, sentencing an individual to incarceration would be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment. The punishment that he or she receives is very disproportional to his or her behavior.

In order to avoid this, there are many different elements of a crime that must be satisfied before an individual can be convicted of taking part in criminal activity. If these aspects have not been fulfilled by the offender, then the defendant cannot be convicted of a crime because his or her behavior cannot be considered to be criminal. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to present the court with sufficient evidence to convince the jury that each of these elements is satisfied.

The most essential part of any criminal case is evidence proving that the defendant is responsible for the crime in question. However, this is not the only element of a crime that must be satisfied. Once the prosecutor convinces the jury that the defendant has caused the damage or the injury that has occurred, he or she must also prove that the offender intended to cause this harm.

There are various different types of offenses that an individual may take part in and which may result in legal action against the offender. Illegal behavior may result in injury to another person or damage to another person's property. An offender may also face severe criminal charges if he or she had even the smallest role in criminal behavior. No matter what type of crime has been committed, all of the major aspects of a crime must be satisfied in order for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime.

Actus Reus

In order for a crime to occur an individual must first take part in an activity that has been deemed to be illegal. The illegal activity is known as actus reus. In order for an individual to be convicted of a crime a prosecutor must convince a grand jury that the defendant is responsible for the crime in question. The prosecuting attorney will be required to present evidence to the court that will leave the jury with no doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.

The evidence that may be presented to the court includes objects that were found at the scene of the crime, documents, video recordings, DNA evidence, and witness testimonies. If this evidence is not successful in convincing the jury of the defendant's guilt, then the jury cannot convict the defendant of a crime. If the jury is going to convict an individual of a crime, then he or she must maintain no doubt that the defendant is at fault.

It is commonly believed that it is easy to determine what constitutes a legitimate actus reus. However, there is often confusion and debate regarding who is responsible for taking part in a crime. This is especially true in cases of omission. In instances of omission, the court must decide whether or not failure to partake in specific actions constitutes a crime.

It is possible for actus reus to occur as a result of the failure of an individual to behave in a certain matter. If it is known that the individual is responsible for the actus reus, then the criminal defense attorney may attempt to discredit the actus reus by trying to prove that the actus reus was not voluntary. If the offensive behavior was not voluntary then actus reus did not occur and the offender cannot be charge with a crime.

Separate Jurisdictions

One of the most important parts of a criminal investigation is discovering where a crime took place. The crime scene will provide investigators with important and invaluable clues and information. If investigators locate a crime scene they may be able to determine how a murder victim was killed, as well as gather essential evidence to support their case. Locating a crime scene is also the most reliable way to determine who has jurisdiction over a specific case.

Before a criminal investigation can really begin jurisdiction must be established. The law enforcement agency that is granted jurisdiction over a specific case will be given the right and the responsibility of collecting evidence, locating and apprehending the criminal, and presenting the evidence to a jury who will determine the fate of the criminal.

There is a range of different types of jurisdictions and various ways in which jurisdiction may be determined. Jurisdiction is often the subject of intense debate between different State governments, as well as between the Federal and the State Government. It is not uncommon for the lines between jurisdictions to become blurred and for arguments to ensue. The Government that does receive jurisdiction over a specific case will be responsible for presiding over that case.

Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is in no way a new or a unique idea. Since the beginning of history individuals have been subjected to the death penalty for various different actions and crimes. In the early history of the death penalty, torture was used as a method of entertainment for rulers and government officials.

They developed barbaric methods of torment used to inflict intense pain and suffering upon their victims. The reasons that individuals would suffer the death penalty could vary a great deal, from high treason to the sudden whim of a dictator.

Today, many countries around the world continue to utilize the death penalty as a method of deterrence and punishment. In the United States, capital punishment is reserved for the most atrocious criminals who have been convicted of murder. n other countries around the world, the way in which the death penalty is imposed and the methods of execution would be considered to be cruel and unusual punishment by the standards of the United States. Stories regarding executions emerging from third world and underdeveloped countries are often horrific and heinous. This is not to say the practice of capital punishment in the United States is perfect or not flawed.

There are many problems and complications that continue to exist with the death penalty in the United States. Statistics regarding capital punishment illustrate a very troubling reality. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomical discrimination are all very evident when reviewing data and information related to the imposition of the death penalty. Data indicates that wrongful convictions are possible and they occur much too frequently.

In instances such as this, an innocent individual may be executed for a crime that he or she did not commit. It is troubling enough that an individual may spend many years in prison for someone else's crimes, but once an individual is executed there is no way to correct the mistake that has been made.

Because of these problems many political, religious, and social groups voiced concern about the use of the death penalty. As a result, numerous states have outlawed capital punishment, and the states that continue to maintain the death penalty have altered various laws regarding capital punishment.

Life Imprisonment

In recent years, public support for the death penalty has decreased a great deal. Individuals, communities, and organizations have begun to acknowledge all of the problems that exist with capital punishment. In order to address these problems, many states have banned capital punishment in favor of a life imprisonment sentence. In states where the death penalty continues to be maintained, the frequency of criminal execution has decreased a noticeable amount.

The use of life imprisonment as an alternative to capital punishment negates the possibility of irreversible and unforgivable mistakes. However, there are many individuals who feel that life imprisonment is not successful in keeping society safe from dangerous criminals. People who support the death penalty often raise valid concerns about the sentence of life in prison.

Life imprisonment sentences are not just handed to individuals who have been convicted of murder. There are many different types of crimes that may warrant a life imprisonment sentence.

If a convicted criminal is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, then the offender will be required to spend the rest of his or her life behind bars. However, this is not always the case.

Generally, the term life in prison is very deceiving and misleading. This is not the only factor that has caused a great deal of debate surrounding life imprisonment. There are occasions when this sentence is imposed upon juveniles who are under the age of sixteen. Many people feel that the use of this punishment on minors is unconstitutional.

While life imprisonment sentences have been the subject of copious amounts of argument, judicial officials do take important steps in order to ensure that dangerous criminals who pose a continuous threat to the community remain in jail.

Individuals who oppose the death penalty often cite the possibility of wrongful convictions and the decreased cost of life imprisonment as two primary reasons to abolish capital punishment despite the problems that continue to exist with the life sentence.

Purpose of Punishment

The use of criminal sentencing as a form of punishment for individuals who have violated the law has been a subject of a great deal of debate for a long period of time. Individuals who are convicted of breaking the law are sentenced to a criminal punishment which they must serve.

This punishment may range in severity from minor fines to long term incarceration. The punishment will generally depend on the goal that the Government and the judicial authority is attempting to achieve. If their primary goal is to deter the individual from committing crimes in the future and to prevent other individuals from taking part in similar criminal behavior, then the criminal’s punishment must be harsh and severe.

There are many different goals that may be accomplished through the use of criminal punishment. The severity of the punishment will often vary from one convicted criminal to another, even if the crimes that have been committed were the same. This is because the judge has the ability to consider all of the aspects of a criminal case and determine an effective punishment that is fitting for each particular defendant.

The inconsistency of criminal punishment is another topic that has raised a great deal of concern. If there is not a set and standard punishment for all individuals who commit the same crime, then there is room for prejudice and discrimination on the part of the judge.

However, the imposition of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and Federal sentencing guidelines have also caused many problems because first time offenders of certain crimes are receiving the same harsh punishment as career criminals. Criminal punishments present judicial officials with many complications which need to be addressed and resolved.

Criminal Defense

A criminal law case requires two attorneys to compete against each other in order to convince the jury to believe their individual cases. The prosecutor will be utilizing evidence and witness testimony in order to prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime in question. A criminal defense attorney will be countering all of the claims of the prosecutor and attempting to cause the jury to doubt their client's guilt.

Even if the criminal lawyer cannot prove the defendant's innocence, all he or she needs to do is provide sufficient evidence and information to make the jury question the guilt of the defendant. If the jury has any reason to doubt that the defendant is guilty then it cannot convict the defendant of a crime.

In many cases, the evidence overwhelmingly proves that a defendant is responsible for the crime of which he or she is being accused. In instances such as this, it is the responsibility of the criminal defense attorney to develop a convincing and adequate criminal defense that will negate their client's criminal culpability.

There are many different criminal defenses that criminal lawyers may choose to employ in a criminal case. Generally, these defenses seek to prove that a defendant cannot be held accountable for their crimes for a number of different reasons. In most instances, it will be because of a diminished or compromised mental state that has caused the defendant to act out of character.

Many criminal defenses surround psychological disorders that have developed in the defendant. Other defenses claim that physical, social, or environmental factors caused unusual behavior in the defendant. No matter which stance a criminal defense attorney decides to adopt, he or she must be very convincing.

A successful criminal defense will effectively negate or diminish their client’s accountability, therefore lessening the severity of their conviction and sentence.

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