The American criminal justice system enforces criminal laws that punish individuals to protect society. The substantive criminal law has a definition for offenses, classification of crimes, the principles relied on to judge the crime and to quantify the provisions of the legislation and the punishments they require. These punishments are given out for violations that constitute a crime under the criminal code. Both at the Federal and State level, these laws are enforced, and the criminal trials are held according to each state’s criminal statutes. Most criminal trials involve State laws since the jurisdiction of Federal laws is restricted to crimes.
This entire system can be very daunting to some people. It is a complex, expensive and powerful system with far-reaching implications. It can take a tremendous toll on people trying to access it.
Guiding Principles for Criminal Law in the US:
Presumption of innocence:
“innocent until proven guilty” is one of the mottos of criminal law. It is a safeguard built-in place to prevent wrongful incarceration.
Beyond a reasonable doubt:
the government that is alleging the crime must be provided to meet the highest burden of proof that will be imposed onto them. It has to be proven by the government using all resources at their disposal, to prove that the person is guilty of having committed a criminal act and deserves punishment for it.
These criteria ensure that innocent people are not made to face incarceration without sufficient proof. Criminal law is one of the tools by which organized societies ensure the security of individual interests and survival as a community.
While there are many kinds of crimes the main categories within which they can be divided are:
Crimes against a person:
These are any physical or mental harm caused to another person. They can further be divided into homicide and violent crimes. Homicide is when the physical harm caused to another individual is severe enough to cause death, whereas violent crimes include a battery, child abuse, kidnapping, etc.
Crimes against property:
these are crimes that interfere with a person’s right to enjoy their property. These crimes include crimes like theft crimes, burglary, shoplifting, etc.
these refer to crimes that were not completed despite an initiation. These can crimes such as assisting the commission of another crime. While an intention to commit the crime is important, the person must also take a substantial step towards the completion of the crime for them to be held guilty under these kinds of offenses.
these crimes refer to things like alcohol-related crimes, drug crimes, traffic offenses, etc. They are called statutory crimes because they are specifically prohibited by the Statue as it was intended to deter individuals from engaging in them.
they refer to crimes that involve deception for financial gain. They include crimes like fraud, blackmail, money laundering, tax evasion, etc.
If you or anyone you know has found themselves entangled in the web of criminal laws, connect with the best criminal lawyers at Autrey Law Firm!