Rules of Criminal Law
Criminal law is designed to keep people safe, and to discourage people from taking actions that are dangerous and hurtful towards other people, their property, or society at large. The basic tenants of criminal law is focused on punishing criminals for breaking laws and ensuring the punishment fits the crime.
When a person commits a crime, such as robbing a bank, murder, or kidnapping- they can face a variety of punishments if caught, which vary depending on the severity of the crime and a few other factors. These punishments often complete one or more of these five objectives.
1.) Deterrence- These laws are supposed to stop someone from committing a specific crime, either by themselves or by making an example of the offender. Examples of this include a night in jail for minor crimes, with threats of longer incarceration if the crime is repeated.
2.) Retribution- These laws are there to punish the criminal for their actions, which have often been crimes against other people and property. These laws mostly want a balance between crime and punishment, so if a criminal murders someone, he should face the death penalty himself.
3.) Incapacitation- These laws lock the criminals up as punishment for their crimes, keeping them away from the wider world and keeping society safe from their misdeeds.
4.) Restoration- These laws are focused on balance, similar to retribution laws, but they tend to focus on those affected by crime and the criminal’s behavior. The balance desires to repair the damage done by the criminal, for example, a bank robber will have to pay the bank back for the amount he stole in order to return the bank to where it was before the robbery.
5.) Rehabilitation- These laws try to turn the criminal into a member of the working world, and this process is mostly used for minor crimes to convince the criminal that their crime or actions are unacceptable in normal society. If this is successful, the criminal can return to normal life and his actions can be forgiven.
Criminal laws then look at the state of the crime, trying to figure out if the criminal knew what he was doing and that his actions were wrong. How fatal his crime was and what it falls under, and whether anyone else was involved or drove the criminal to his actions. Once this is discovered and understood by all parties involved, a trial can begin and proof can be given by both sides to prove their claims about the criminal. For example, a murderer could be put on trial as the prosecutor tries to show he committed the crime willingly, while the defendant could try to show the criminal was not aware of his actions during the murder.
Criminal law is a complex process, but it desires to catch criminals after or before they commit a crime and ensure the truth about the crime is understood before they are appropriately punished for their wrongdoing.