Crime and criminal law

Crime and criminal law

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Substantive laws are laws of crime that are defined by statutes and prescribes what is to be done and also proscribes what is not to be done. Procedural law on the other hand lays out the rules that the state must follow in prosecuting suspects. Criminal laws are enforced by the state, and its violation is regarded as acts against the state and the victim. A crime is an act of violation of criminal law for which a punishment is prescribed. The prosecutors must prove of the intent to commit the crime. Crime is a subcategory of all harmful acts. The largest circle consists of all harms, personal, social, criminal, and non-criminal offences. The lower subcategory consists of social harms that are regulated by the state but no by the criminal justice system. Mala prohibita and mala in se forms the third circle while the core consists of mala in se crimes that cause the most harm to the society. mala in se is differentiated from mala prohibita on three concepts namely consensus, seriousness, and harm.

Criminal law emanates from state and federal constitutions, state and federal statutes, and common law. There are several limitations to criminal laws. First, criminal law cannot criminalize any conduct it pleases. Laws that infringe rights of individuals such as freedom of speech as prohibited. The law must be narrow in conformity to the overbreadth doctorine. The criminal law be void of vagueness, that is, it must state the offence it is prohibiting and punishment it will accord. The people have a right to fair notice. The other limitations include that it must not limit the due process and also should avoid restricting equal protection. criminal law is limited by the principle of ex post facto laws and bills of attainder.

There are five elements of criminal liability that constitute corpus delecti. First, actus reus which states that there must be act for criminal liability to attach. Thoughts alone are not valid grounds for criminal liability. There are three forms of actus reus namely possession, omission and voluntary movements. Secondly, mens rea affirms that there must some sort of guilt mind. The concept introduces discussions on intent and motive which must be proven in a court of law. Intents refers to the desire to do an act while motive refers to the reason why an act was undertaken. Thirdly, concurrence which is an aggregate of criminal act and intent. Fourth, causation which is the criminal act that is the cause of harm. Has two forms legal and factual causes. The fifth element is harm which can either be physical or mental in nature.

Inchoate crimes are crimes that occur in preparation of an offence. There are three forms of inchoate crimes. Solicitation is where a person is induced to commit a crime. The other two are conspiracy and attempt. A defence is a reaction by the defendant to the complaint and may either be an alibi or an affirmative defence. In alibi defences the persons asserts that they are not guilty of the crimes committed. Affirmative defences are grouped into two justification and excusation. In justification defences, the defendant argue that they are not liable for the crimes they admit to have committed. The defendant may argue that they committed the crimes in acts of self-defence or in the line of public duty or in some cases take the form of consent. In excuse defenses the defendant admits wrong doing but claims that the situation was entirely to blame for their actions. It may take various forms such as duress, intoxication, age, and insanity all of which have to justified in court.

In procedural defences, the defendant claim that the criminal justice system sullied the standard due process in prsocess their case. Defendants get acquitted if they can prove the claims. Crimes can be grouped on the basis of the type of act. Hence there can be crimes against a person, a society, property, or morality. The crimes against persons include murder, manslaughter, negligeable homicide, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. The crimes against property are burglary, theft, and arson. The other form are crimes against public order and morality where the offender is not easily identified.


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