Crimes are defined as offences against the order in society according to criminal law. As far as common law jurisdiction, when crimes disturb the peace of the sovereign, a legal implication is involved. Offenders of peace of the sovereign will be prosecuted by the government officials who are the agents of the sovereign. The term plaintiff in practical terms of criminal law is translated as the monarch or people.
Unlike in civil law when the objective is individual compensation, the major objective of criminal law is deterrence and punishment. A criminal offence has two particular elements and these are the physical act or the actus reur or guilty act and the requisite mental state of which the act is done or mens rea or guilty mind. In a murder case for example, the actus reus is the unlawful killing of a person while it is the intention to kill or cause grievous injury as the mens rea. Under criminal law, defendents would detail their defences in order to lessen or negate their criminal responsibility, and it is this law also that will specify the punishment to be inflicted. Criminal will not require a victim or a victim’s consent in order to prosecute the offender. Also, the consent of the victim cannot be a defence in most crimes, and note that even with the objections of the victim, a criminal prosecution can take place.
There are two fields that a criminal law would play in most jurisdictions of both common and civil law traditions. One is that to address the violations of criminal law, what regulates the process is the criminal procedure. Another field is the substantive criminal law that specifies the definition of and punishments for in the different crimes.
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Crimes from civil wrongs such as tort or breach of contract are distinguished under criminal law. To regulate the behaviour of individuals and groups in relation to the norms of society at large, criminal law is seen to function this, while civil law is mainly directed at the relationships between private individuals and their rights and obligations based on the law. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the legal systems in the past underwent a definition between civil and criminal law. In many U.S. law schools, the English common criminal law of 1750 is the basic course in criminal law.
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There are several types of criminal law and these are arrests and searches, drug crimes, juvenile law, drunk driving, parole, probation, pardons, violent crimes, white collar crimes and military law.
Be informed that the other name of criminal law is penal law, and it is the term used to refer many rule bodies with specific jurisdictions.