Criminal Law Definitions, Descriptions, And Details
In an "Introduction to Scottish Criminal Law," published online by the Luiss Guido Carli University Library, a discussion of criminal law as a general concept opens with the attitude which maintains that "any discussion of the role of the criminal law inevitably begins with an attempt to define the notions of 'crime' and 'criminal law,'" and that, further, this "'obsession with definition' has failed to provide any definitive or concrete answers." But it's only fair to say that to logically, practically apply and enforce criminal law we have a working definition of that which we are significantly involved in remedying, if you will. Granted, the definitions of criminal law and crime are complex enough to be as elusive as a diamond chip in a coal mine, but hey, it's a start. And so we go to legal minds. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell tells us that criminal law "involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime." As opposed to other forms of law and other legal cases, such as divorce or civil litigations, which involve mediation and the mission to resolve legal dispute between individuals or collectives, criminal law processes criminal cases according to state, federal, and national and/or international terms. Criminal law involves a prosecuting attorney as opposed to a "victim" bringing on or initiating a suit, and instead of mutually defined terms of resolution through a mediator, usually involves a punishment (of incarceration and/or monetary fines) of the one who has perpetrated the crime. (Though a divorced person who pays alimony or is designated only visiting rights to a child may consider his/her resolution through the courts a kind of punishment.) Also according to The Legal Information Institute at Cornell, the term, "crime", is defined as "any act or omission (of an act)" that is in direct (or, sometimes, indirect) violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it." Such a crime is typically mandated as such by local, state, and federal governments, and therefore has variants according to the terms of each individual state, for instance. Here's where the complexity begins. Criminal laws vary from state to state and vary in categorical types, according to the types of crimes established as such, committed, and subsequently prosecuted. For example, the range of criminal law is widespread, dealing with crimes that are deemed misdemeanors and those decidedly felonies. Misdemeanors are typically those crimes punishable by under a year in prison and/or by under a certain dollar amount, while felonies are those crimes that are punishable by a year or more and/or over a certain dollar amount. Felonies are the most serious of criminal offenses, including such acts as murder, manslaughter, rape, sexual assault, unarmed and armed robbery, and most other violent acts. Misdemeanors are minor infractions that are less serious, less hurtful/harmful, but no less significant to (in victim-crimes) the victims--shoplifting, jaywalking, moving violations, and other victim- or victimless crimes. So whether the criminal law codes and statutes describe the act, the "actus reus," perpetrated by the criminal; the mental state, the "mens rea," of the perpetrator; or the definitions of the punishment incurable or incurred, the definitions and descriptions are significant, vital parts of the criminal law process.
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