What is Criminal Law?

There are 3 different branches of law. These are:

  • Criminal law – this could be any kind of violation of the rules and regulations set out within the UK.
  • Civil law – this is often personal injury, divorce and family disputes.
  • Administrative law – this is breach of laws of administrative agencies.

Criminal law is a vast spectrum of laws and legislation drawn up to correctly penalise someone who is suspected of committing a wrongful act. It also lays out the rules in regards to charging, trying, sentencing and imprisonment where necessary. Criminal law may be associated with thieves and murderers but it actually reaches out to many areas of everyday life. Different crimes are classified by the severity of the act of crime. Some elements of the criminal justice system are:

  • fraud – planning to gain or cause loss through deception
  • domestic abuse – either physical violence or threat of violence
  • cybercrime
  • all forms of theft
  • road traffic offences.

An act is made a criminal offence and determined as a crime when certain actions are deemed as dangerous and damaging to society as a whole. Once an act has been classed as a crime, a suitable punishment, or set of punishments, can be laid out as to penalise someone when necessary.

Areas of Criminal Law

Within criminal law come 3 different sections that simplify and determine in what way things should be dealt with. The 3 sections are:

Substantive criminal law

Substantive criminal law determines:

  • the classification of a crime
  • the manner in which the case is handled
  • how the criminal should be penalised
  • which courts are most suitable to deal with the case at hand.

Criminal procedure

This section of criminal law lays out the laws on:

  • searching a suspected criminal
  • warrant for arrest
  • seizure of evidence
  • approaching and questioning witnesses
  • constitution rights
  • the rights of appeal.

Enforcement of criminal justice

This is the assessment of information gathered from the previous sections on the case and is used to enforce a correct decision on the punishment that should be administered. Some crimes are of course more minor than others, so within criminal law there are different levels of penalty. This could be:

  • restitution – paying for damages caused by the act
  • deterrence – short sentences and punishments given for lesser offences
  • incapacitation – serious punishments given to criminal that are believed to be a danger to the public.