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Legal Dictionary

criminal law

Legal Definition of criminal law

Noun

  1. That body of the law that deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statute, prosecuted and punished by the government.

See also


Definition of criminal law

Noun

criminal law (plural criminal laws)

  1. (law) The area of law pertaining to crime and punishment.

Coordinate terms

Further reading

The term criminal law, sometimes called penal law, refers to any of various bodies of rules in different jurisdictions whose common characteristic is the potential for unique and often severe impositions as punishment for failure to comply. Criminal punishment, depending on the offense and jurisdiction, may include execution, loss of liberty, government supervision (parole or probation), or fines. There are some archetypal crimes, like murder, but the acts that are forbidden are not wholly consistent between different criminal codes, and even within a particular code lines may be blurred as civil infractions may give rise also to criminal consequences. Criminal law typically is enforced by the government, unlike the civil law, which may be enforced by private parties.

Objectives of Criminal Law

Criminal law is distinctive for the uniquely serious potential consequences or for failure to abide by its rules.Every crime is composed of may be imposed in some jurisdictions for the most serious crimes.Physical or may be imposed such as or although these punishments are prohibited in much of the world. Individuals may be in a variety of conditions depending on the jurisdiction. Confinement may be solitary. Length of incarceration may vary from a day to life.Government supervision may be imposed, including house arrest, and convicts may be required to conform to particularized guidelines as part of a parole or probation regimen. also may be imposed, seizing money or property from a person convicted of a crime.

Five objectives are widely accepted for enforcement of the criminal law by punishments: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. Jurisdictions differ on the value to be placed on each.

  • Retribution - Criminals ought to suffer in some way. This is the most widely seen goal. Criminals have taken improper advantage, or inflicted unfair detriment, upon others and consequently, the criminal law will put criminals at some unpleasant disadvantage to "balance the scales." People submit to the law to receive the right not to be murdered and if people contravene these laws, they surrender the rights granted to them by the law. Thus, one who murders may be murdered himself. A related theory includes the idea of "righting the balance."
  • Deterrence - Individual deterrence is aimed toward the specific offender. The aim is to impose a sufficient penalty to discourage the offender from criminal behavior. General deterrence aims at society at large. By imposing a penalty on those who commit offenses, other individuals are discouraged from committing those offenses.
  • Incapacitation - Designed simply to keep criminals away from society so that the public is protected from their misconduct. This is often achieved through prison sentences today. The death penalty or banishment have served the same purpose.
  • Rehabilitation - Aims at transforming an offender into a valuable member of society. Its primary goal is to prevent further offense by convincing the offender that their conduct was wrong.
  • Restitution - This is a victim-oriented theory of punishment. The goal is to repair, through state authority, any hurt inflicted on the victim by the offender. For example, one who embezzles will be required to repay the amount improperly acquired. Restitution is commonly combined with other main goals of criminal justice and is closely related to concepts in the civil law.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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