The Basics of Criminal Law

Criminal law is the branch of law that deals with crimes. It focuses on retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation.


Some find criminal law’s general justification in preventing harm and holding people responsible for moral wrongdoing. Others argue that we have reason to criminalize conduct only if we can show that it is necessary and proportionate to prevent harm.


The criminal justice system includes laws, agencies and procedures for holding criminals accountable for their misdeeds. It aims to make the world a safer place for all citizens, ensure crime victims receive justice and compensation for their losses, and deter crimes through the threat of punishment. Criminal law defines and punishes offenses such as murder, robbery, trespassing, burglary and assault. Criminal justice is operated by local, state, federal and tribal governments and military installations. 상간녀소송

A general justification for criminal law argues that it is essential to the stability of valuable social institutions. This is because their stable existence depends on widespread compliance with their rules. For example, the stable functioning of a financial, educational, familial or military institution would require everyone to obey its rules regarding lending and service. If the stability of valuable social institutions is at stake, then the moral wrongfulness of violating their rules justifies making it a crime to do so (Husak 2008, 107-119).

However, there are a number of criticisms of this view. One is that it is unduly expansive: much of the conduct that generates secondary duties to suffer or protect is not a crime and does not warrant criminal liability. For example, failing to help a friend move house because you are lazy may be a culpable mistake, but it does not justify the use of criminal law because it is not a public duty (Duff 2014b; Husak 2014, 216-216). Another argument focuses on the expressive functions of punishment. It says that, although other bodies of law censure or condemn, it is distinctive of criminal law because the conviction of a person conveys an express censure that no other verdict does.

Offenses 상간녀소송

On the most basic level, criminal law includes offenses involving actions that violate certain social and moral values. These offenses are called crimes against morality, and they include not only violent acts like homicide but also nonviolent acts such as a parent’s failure to feed his or her child. These crimes are characterized by the fact that they violate a particular social or moral value and may be punished in a number of ways, including fines, imprisonment, or other punishments as defined in statutes.

In addition to the traditional categories of crimes against persons, property, and public order, a variety of other categories exist within criminal law. For example, some offences are categorized as statutory crimes because they are prohibited by statute. Some offences are categorized as crimes of violence or homicide because they involve injuries to another person, such as aggravated assault or robbery. Other types of crimes are categorized as status offences because they affect one’s place in society, such as traffic offenses or possession of illegal drugs.

Some writers find criminal law’s general justification in the prevention of harm and the prevention of moral wrongdoing. However, these general justifications face a range of objections. One criticism is that they are unduly expansive. For example, failing to help a friend move his or her house because one is lazy is a moral wrong but does not require the attention of criminal proceedings (Duff 2014b). Another criticism is that they do not account for the fact that some wrongdoing generates secondary duties, which cannot be fulfilled by criminal law alone.


The penalties for criminal offenses vary among jurisdictions but may include fines, forfeitures, restitution, deportation, incarceration (which can range from a few days to life) and various forms of government supervision. In some countries, capital punishment is a common penalty for the most serious crimes.

Some scholars claim that what makes criminal law distinctive is its expressive character, its capacity to communicate a condemnation of wrongdoing. They argue that the expressivity of punishment is primarily a matter of its ability to communicate a verdict of guilt: The actus reus in a criminal case is a formal declaration by a judge or other official that DD has committed a crime, and this sends a specific message to DD about DD’s blameworthiness.

Other writers object to such claims about the expressive function of punishment. They suggest that much moral wrongdoing, including many activities that generate secondary duties to suffer or protect, has no business being criminalized: criminalizing them would impose substantial costs and divert scarce resources away from more valuable priorities.

Moreover, they contend that punishing wrongdoers does not necessarily make them less likely to commit further wrongdoing. It is more likely that it will simply drive wrongdoing underground, resulting in more crime and misery for everyone. This is the so-called “deterrence” view of punishment. Alternatively, defenders of the general justification of criminal law claim that criminal sanctions are indispensable tools for deterring and responding to specific and general wrongdoing.


Defenses are strategies that challenge the prosecution’s case against you. They can poke holes in the prosecutor’s evidence, deny the elements of the crime or assert that you have a legal and reasonable excuse for your actions. The burden of proof is high for the prosecution to prove that you committed the crime, so it is important to have a strong criminal defense.

Mistake of fact is a defense that negates the intent element of many crimes. It is most often used to defend white-collar offenses such as fraud or theft, but can also apply to other crimes where the alleged victim did not consent to the behavior. Involuntary intoxication can also be used as a lack of intent defense. For example, if you were given alcohol that was spiked or ate something at a party that was laced with drugs, your intoxication cancels out your intent to commit a crime.

A alibi is an affirmative defense that requires you to prove that you were not at the scene of the crime at the time it occurred. Supportive evidence might include witness testimonies, phone records and surveillance footage. Necessity is another common criminal defense. This is when you engage in an illegal act to prevent a worse outcome, such as the death of someone else. It is a valid defense to murder, but it must be proportional, meaning you cannot kill in response to being slapped or spit on.