1. How is criminal law defined and what is its purpose? Provide an example of one or more criminal laws.
â€œCriminal Law, as distinguished from civil law, is a system of laws concerned with punishment of individuals who commit crimes. Thus, where in a civil case two individuals dispute their rights, a criminal prosecution involves the people as a whole deciding whether to punish an individual for his conduct or lack of conduct (i.e. omission). Just as the people decide what conduct to punish, so the people decide what punishment is appropriate. Accordingly, punishments vary with the severity of the offenseâ€”from a simple fine (e.g. for a traffic violation) to loss of freedom (e.g. for murder).â€ (Cornell 2016)
Criminal law specifically deals with people who commit what the state or federal government defines as a crime. The purpose of criminal law is to punish people for committing those crimes. Each state has the ability to establish different levels and punishments of crimes. North Carolina, for example, has 61 articles which define the different types of crimes, felony and misdemeanor classifications, etc. Within these articles, it is further explained what can happen if you are a repeat offender, and what can happen if this is determined. Some of the laws that are defined by this are rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, etc. As stated earlier, there are varying degrees of each of these crimes. The degrees help to determine whether a crime is a misdemeanor or felony. They also determine which degree/class they are; e.g:
- 14-23.3. Voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child; penalty.
(a) A person is guilty of the separate offense of voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child if the person unlawfully causes the death of an unborn child by an act that would be voluntary manslaughter if it resulted in the death of the mother.
(b) Penalty. â€“ Any person who commits an offense under this section shall be guilty of a Class D felony. (2011-60, s. 2.) â€œ
- How is criminal law different than Constitutional law?
Constitutional law differs from criminal law, which was discussed above, due to the fact that Constitutional Law deals with â€œthe interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution.â€ (Cornell 2016), The Constitution has granted citizens the right to â€œdue processâ€, which ensures that citizens are given the opportunity to be tried once they have been accused of breaking criminal laws.
- Cornell University Law School (June 2016), Legal Information Institute, Criminal Law, Wex Legal Dictionary/ (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/criminal_law Accessed Sept 2016)
- North Carolina General Statutes http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0014 (Accessed Sept 2016)
- Cornell University Law School (June 2016), Legal Information Institute, Constitutional Law, Wex Legal https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/constitutional_law Accessed Sept 2016