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Criminal Law

By HelpMePlease12 Jul 16, 2011 1304 Words
Criminal Law Evaluation Paper
CJA/354 Criminal Law
June 20, 2011
Kristin Mildenberger


Criminal law is very important to the criminal justice system. Criminal law states what behavior is criminal and it gives the punishment for each crime. In this document the sources and purposes of criminal law will be discussed. The jurisdiction information will be explained in order to show how it determines where the laws are enforced and created. The differences in the adversarial system and standard of proof within criminal cases will be explored. The differences between criminal liability and accomplice liability will be evaluated. The definitions of inchoate offenses for example, solicitation, conspiracy and contempt will be determined. Also, these terms will be compared to elements of additional criminal offenses.

Criminal Law Evaluation Paper
Criminal law encompasses “rules and regulations that defines and specifies punishments for offenses of a public nature or for wrongs committed against the state or society” (Schmalleger, 2010). Within the umbrella of criminal law are more specific types of different law. For instance, there is natural law, positive law, common law which all defines a specific type of crime an individual can commit and explanation to why it is considered a law. There are different degrees when it comes to punishment for violating a criminal law as well. In order for a person to be punished for committing a crime regarding the criminal law there must be two things present which will also be discussed. There are also offenses that are listed under criminal law as a certain type of offense and certain type of crime due to who or what is violated. Properties of criminal law include natural law, positive law and common law. Natural law is described as rule “of conduct inherent in human nature and in natural order, which are thought to be knowable through intuition, inspiration, and the exercise of reason without the need to refer to man-made laws” (Schmalleger, 2010). On the other hand, positive law is forced by the government for everyone to obey (Schmalleger, 2010). In order for the law to be a positive law it must be formed and applied so that it is acceptable by most people (Schmalleger, 2010). Common law is geared toward custom and usage for instance, nonstatutory customs, ways of life and examples that help steer the decisions of the judicial system (Schmalleger, 2010). The purpose of criminal law is to catch those individual’s that break the law and may harm other people. Not only does criminal law show individuals what they have done wrong but it also states what the punishment will be if the law is broken. Criminal law not only punishes the accused but it also offers protection through the judicial system that punishes and controls (Federation, n.d.). Three purposes of criminal law are for the protection of the offender, punishment and protection of the community (Federation, n.d.). When discussing criminal law an individual must know how jurisdiction plays a major role in how criminal law is enforced and created. The definition of jurisdiction is a specific geographic area where a law enforcement agent can exercise his or her authority. It means that a particular group or department in the criminal justice system has legal power. In order for a person to be punished by law enforcement professional, the act must have occurred within the law enforcement professional’s jurisdiction. Those that make the laws for a specific area or jurisdiction create laws in regards to the criminal law. If there is an act that will harm the community those of the judicial system within the jurisdiction will create the law that will protect the community. In criminal law the prosecution must use a certain degree of information in order to prove an individual’s guilt. There are two different ways to prove a defendant’s guilt in criminal law depending on the system that is used. In a criminal case it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove the defendant’s guilt, the defense does not have the burden of proof and does not have to defend his or her position at all. An adversarial system is where two campaigners for instance, prosecutor and defense attorney, represent his or her client’s position in front of a group or individual that is impartial for example, a judge or a jury (Schmalleger, 2010). When proving a case against a defendant a prosecutor must meet the standard of proof. The three standards of proof are beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence and preponderance of evidence (Schmalleger, 2010). Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof needed for a conviction in a criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt means that the prosecution has to prove with high certainty that the defendant did commit the crime, but it does not have to prove the action was written wit a hundred percent certainty. Another burden of proof that is used in a criminal case is clear and convincing evidence. This means the proof is more than a preponderance of evidence but less than beyond a reasonable doubt (Schmalleger, 2010). This type of proof is used in criminal cases and quasi-criminal cases (Schmalleger, 2010). “During trial on a civil maintenance case, a court can act as if it was a criminal case to punish the involved persons for their misdoings, by issuing orders as 'quasi criminal'” (, 2004-2007). “For example sending a person to jail for contempt of court” (, 2004-2007). There are differences in the concepts in criminal liability and accomplice liability. Criminal liability is when an individual or group of people is responsible for acts that are harmful toward society that results in prosecution by the legal system. Accomplice liability is when an individual or individuals are present at the scene where the crime occurs even if the individual or individuals did not actively participate in the crime. Criminal liability explains the person actually committing a crime while accomplice liability is when an individual is present during the commission of a crime another person has committed. Inchoate offenses are crimes where a person prepares for or searches to commit a crime (Schmalleger, 2010). An inchoate offense is viewed as a crime, or conduct that does not cause harm. Inchoate offenses are considered to be failures of attempts to commit specific crimes. Examples of inchoate crimes include attempt, conspiracy and solicitation. Attempt involves trying to commit a crime but not being able to complete the act. Conspiracy is a secret plan to do something that is against the law or that might cause harm to others. Solicitation means imperatively asking, petitioning while offering goods or services. There is a difference with criminal offenses than inchoate offenses for example, with burglary an individual enters a place without consent in order to steal. When an individual drives a car without the owners consent an individual operates someone else’s vehicle without the owner’s permission. These crimes are crimes that are actually committed unlike inchoate offenses. Examination of criminal law teaches there are standards of proof that must be met. Learning that criminal law has different purposes and sources are important. Inchoate offenses differ from criminal offenses. There are different standards of proof depending on the type of case prosecution is trying to prove. Jurisdiction is also important when determining who can take custody of a suspected criminal. References

Federation (n.d.). The Purposes of Criminal Law. Retrieved from (2004-2007). Quasi-Criminal. Retrieved from Schmalleger, F. (2010). Criminal law today: An introduction with capstone cases (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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