Have you done something wrong and need to fix it? Or are you someone who helps others resolve their legal issues? In both cases, you need to learn about criminal law.
With so many different cases, the law is varied, complicated, and full of opportunity. You are sure to find an area that speaks to you and your interests.
But before you begin studying, you need to understand some of the legal basics. Things like what constitutes a crime and what a punishment might be.
We have created this informative post about criminal law for beginners. Read along to learn more.
Table of Contents
Exploring the different types of crimes is an important part of understanding criminal law. Depending on the jurisdiction, crimes can typically be split into two basic classifications: felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are the most serious crimes, often punishable by imprisonment or death, and may involve allegations of robbery, assault, or murder. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and include crimes like theft, shoplifting, or public intoxication. Additionally, depending on the jurisdiction, there may be juvenile offenses or infractions categorized as civil offenses that involve offenses like parking tickets, jaywalking, or petty theft.
The Criminal Justice Process, or CJP, encompasses the entire system by which a criminal offender is apprehended, tried, convicted, and punished.
It begins with the police, who investigate suspected criminal activity and then apprehend any suspects for arrest. Investigative agencies then prosecute the suspect in court.
Based on the evidence presented, a jury or judge makes a decision if the defendant is guilty or not. After sentencing, the criminal may go to prison or receive some other form of punishment. Regardless of the outcome, this process is designed to protect the safety of the public and hold the accused accountable for their actions.
Criminal law penalties and sentencing are the determination of the severity of punishment for those that are convicted of violating the law. The criminal justice system has a structured approach to sentencing as a way to provide a consistent process for deciding a person’s punishment. The court can sentence a person to the following:
- Serve time in prison
- Community service
- Combination thereof
The sentencing goal is to punish the crime, rehabilitate the offender, and protect the public from future criminal acts. Depending on the severity of the crime, some violent felonies may result in a life sentence. For nonviolent offenses, the court may consider the following:
- Alternative punishment
- Suspension of sentence
Some states have truth-in-sentencing laws, so inmates must serve a given percentage of their sentence before release regardless of any programs or good behavior.
A criminal defense lawyer is an invaluable resource when facing criminal charges. They will help clients understand what to expect throughout the trial process and represent them when going before a judge and jury. A criminal defense attorney will gather the facts and evidence to develop the best defense possible and argue it in the courtroom.
The future of criminal law is uncertain, but the need for it is clear. Society must continue to evaluate new threats and create laws to protect citizens while upholding the rights enshrined in our Constitution. With continued education and dialogue, we can work together to better navigate our legal system and improve outcomes.
Take action today to understand criminal law and its implications in your community.
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