Criminal Law – Basics
Penal law, which is also known as criminal law, in short pertains to law that deals with crimes and their punishment. Criminal law is responsible for setting and maintaining definitions of crimes, as well as their punishment, which is inherently linked to the perceived impact to the great community and the individuals which make it up.
No moral examination takes place in criminal law practice, and neither does it prevent the ability of the people to commit the crimes it prohibits. This would go against every major constitution in the world as it will intrinsically also limit the people’s freedom. The law of criminal procedure basically consists of the apprehension of an individual or group, laying of the charges, and finally trying those suspected of committing an act deemed inappropriate.
The investigation comes before all this, though, and no case of this nature can be won without solid evidence. This proof must be beyond reasonable doubt, a major ingredient in the salad that is the legal system where it concerns criminals. The accused person or persons must be guilty of two separate things: firstly, the act; it must be proven to a jury that the accused has committed an act set out by society and its leaders as being criminal; second, the person under investigation must have had the intent to commit the crime, which is otherwise known as guilty mind. This malicious intent is the final nail in the coffin for most cases as it is rather difficult to prove, but when it has been demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt, there is little recourse for the defendant.
The above can be discounted for crimes of so-called strict liability, wherein evidence of an ‘actus reus’ is enough.
Criminal law systems do make the distinction between crimes where negligence plays a part, and those where motivation was the only driving factor. This is where things get tricky, and this is why criminal lawyers make big bucks in taking care of their clients. Sometimes the story in the defendant’s mind is not even solid, and it is up to his or her lawyer to make a solid case for redemption.