Basis of US Criminal Law Essay Sample

Criminal law, sometimes referred to as penal law, is based on of several areas of written law including constitutional, administrative, statutory and case law. Constitutional law deals with the interpretation and implementation of the U. S. Constitution, administrative law is designed to regulate government agencies, statutory law is determined by national, state or local legislatures, and case law pertains to precedents set by previous court cases and their outcomes. Common law may also be utilized in establishing criminal law. Common law is based on the universal consent and practices of society.

The terms common law and case law are sometimes used synonymously as their implications are almost identical. ” The criminal case starts by a committed criminal act. There is a complainant that makes an accusation. The police will then conduct an investigation to look for proofs to make the case strong against the accused. After the necessary information has been gathered, the grand jury will release a document called complaint against the accused. If the case is classified as a criminal act, it will be brought to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of U. S.

The constitution of the United States asks the grand jury to indict the case. Each state has its own grand jury procedures. Some grand jury follows the federal practices while some uses indictments. Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. Civil cases, on the other hand, involve individuals and organizations seeking to resolve legal disputes. In a criminal case, the state, through a prosecutor, initiates the suit, while in a civil case the victim brings the suit. Persons convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both.

However, persons found liable in a civil case may only have to give up property or pay money, but are not incarcerated. A “crime” is any act or omission (of an act) in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Though there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws vary significantly from state to state. There is, however, a Model Penal Code (MPC) which serves as a good starting place to gain an understanding of the basic structure of criminal liability.

Crimes include both felonies (more serious offenses like murder or rape) and misdemeanors (less serious offenses like petty theft or jaywalking). Felonies are usually crimes punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than a year. However, no act is a crime if it has not been previously established as such either by statute or common law. Recently, the list of Federal crimes dealing with activities extending beyond state boundaries or having special impact on federal operations, has grown. See Title 18.

All statutes describing criminal behavior can be broken down into their various elements. Most crimes (with the exception of strict-liability crimes) consist of two elements: an act, or “actus reus,” and a mental state, or “mens rea”. Prosecutors have to prove each and every element of the crime to yield a conviction. Furthermore, the prosecutor must persuade the jury or judge “beyond a reasonable doubt” of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged. In civil cases, the plaintiff needs to show a defendant is liable only by a “preponderance of the evidence,” or more than 50%.

Criminal liability is the degree of blameworthiness that is assigned to a defendant by the criminal court and also the concomitant which the defendant will face under the criminal law and accomplice liability is also blameworthiness that is given to a person that helps another commit a crime by being the get-away driver, looking out for the cops and witnesses while the crime is being committed and at the same time giving that person money or anything else that can aid the individual in committing the crime.