Criminal law is the specific law that deals particularly with crimes and punishments of people. This is the body of law that regulates the standard limits of conduct in society. It is expected from everyone to conform to the criminal law under the penalty of punishment. In general, criminal law does not require people to perform an action, but more exactly on prohibition of an unlawful action. Criminal law is comprised of the criminal laws themselves, which are a set of legal policies determining criminal conduct and how it is punished, and the law of criminal procedure, which comprises mostly of the procedures exercised to prosecute a crime and the rights of the offender.
A crime can be defined as any act or behavior that public law prohibits and decided should be punished by imprisonment, fine or can be both. Criminal law has policies that differ on condition if the indictment is a felony or misdemeanor, and if it is state or federal court case. Crimes that are punishable by a year or more imprisonment are a felony, whereas crimes that are punishable by less than a year are a misdemeanor. On the other hand, an act cannot be considered a crime if there has no previous statute or common law that has established it.
Criminal law encompasses matters that result from police arrests or investigations on the account of suspicions of criminal actions. Criminal law likewise deals with charges, accusations, appeals, and trials. The criminal law addresses complications related with probation, parole, and petitions for sealing, or record expungements. Personal crimes, white collar crimes, and non-violent crimes are some of the categories of crimes.
Two elements must be present before an action or behavior is considered a crime: the guilty act, or “actus reus,” and a mental state, or “mens rea,” with the exception of strict liability crimes. To yield a conviction, prosecutors are responsible to prove every element of the crime. The prosecutor also has to convince the jury or judge of every detail in the case to establish the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Crime punishments and penalties are frequently severe and can be delivered to adults and juveniles as well.
Most crimes in the United States are determined by local, state, and federal government, even if there are some common law crimes. Criminal laws differ extensively by each state; however, the Model Penal Code (MPC) acts as the fundamental framework of criminal liability.
Punishment for Common State and Federal Criminal Offenses
Common crimes have punishments that range from probation to life imprisonment in federal or state correctional facility and fines of up to several million dollars. An individual sentenced to a federal correctional facility could be imprisoned anywhere in the United States. If convicted in a federal court, an individual has no assurance to be imprisoned in his/her home state.
Imprisonment is not the only punishment; a convicted person can lose the right to vote, to own a firearm, to operate a vehicle, to live where he/she desires, and even to return to his home state. Collateral punishments could include shame, embarrassment, loss of employment and potential employments in the future, and in some cases even home.