Criminal law defines what conduct is considered criminal. The law defines the acts that may lead to an arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. (Schmalleger, 2010). Criminal law protects society from harm, punishes individuals who have broken the law, maintains social order, rehabilitates offenders, and deters criminal activity (Schmalleger, 2010).
The sources of criminal law include the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, statutes, ordinances, and regulations. Identify and explain jurisdiction to create and enforce criminal law. According to the American Heritage Dictionary 2009, a jurisdiction is a “right or power to administer justice and to apply laws”. Jurisdictions include a territory, state, or entity in which the law is enforced.
The United States has federalism which consists of two governments who have authority over Americans. These two governments are federal and state governments. Federal governments have authority over “interstate and international commerce, foreign relations, warfare, immigration, bankruptcy, civil rights, and certain crimes committed on the high seas and against the “law of nations” (international law)”. (Schmalleger, 2010, p. 26) State governments have jurisdiction over the welfare of the people within the state and local cities.
State governments have the power to make laws to ensure the well being of the people within the territory. Law enforcement agencies, the courts and the correctional system uphold the law and enforce the law. Discuss the adversarial system and standards of proof in criminal cases. In an adversarial system, the police conduct the investigation and when an arrest is made, the prosecution becomes involved in the case. The adversarial system consists of a defense lawyer and a prosecutor. Both the prosecutor and defense attorney must provide the evidence and facts and prove his or her case. The burden of proof lies on the prosecutor.
The standard of proof in criminal cases consists of the prosecution proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty and the defense proving reasonable doubt exist in the case. Evidence is presented by both the defense and prosecutor. Discuss and differentiate the concepts of criminal liability and accomplice liability. Liability is defined as being responsible for one’s actions. Criminal liability is a legal obligation that occurs as a result of a wrongdoing to a person, society, or government (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011). If an individual steals from a store and is apprehended by the police, he or she has violated the law and is liable for such violation.
Accomplice liability is the extent of legal responsibility of an individual who aids in a crime. According to Schmalleger, Hall & Dolatowski 2010, a person can be considered an accomplice if such person is aware another individual is committing a crime, encourages an individual to commit a crime, or aids in the criminal activity. * Define inchoate offenses and compare them to elements of additional criminal offenses. *
Inchoate offenses can lead to other crimes. Inchoate offenses consist of three types: attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy. According to Russo 2009, “Certain crimes are anticipatory in nature.” An individual can be held liable for a crime even if the crime has not occurred. Inchoate crimes consist of attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy. Solicitation happens when an individual entices, encourages, or requests that an individual commit a crime. Even though the crime may not have occurred, the individual making the request is still liable for the criminal intent to commit such crime. “Conspiracy is a crime involving an agreement and a target offense”. (Russo, 2009, p. 1)
The crime has not been committed; however, the individuals have reached an agreement to commit such a crime. Criminal conspiracy always involves two individuals. “A conspiracy is always its own separate crime. It never merges with a completed offense. Once the target crime has been committed, a defendant will now face liability for two offenses: the conspiracy and the completed offense”. (Russo, 2009, p.
1) Like solicitation, a conspiracy to commit a crime can become a completed crime. An attempted crime is a crime that has not been completed. For example, if an individual is caught pouring gasoline in a forest, this individual can be found guilty of attempted arson without starting the fire (Russo, 2009). Conspiracy, solicitation, and attempted crimes can lead to a criminal offense. Conclusion
A crime is an act that violates any law of the state and federal government. “Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime”. (Cornell University, 2010, p. 1). Although conspiracy, solicitation, and attempted criminal activity are inchoate offenses, these offenses can and often lead to completed crimes. The burden of proof rest on the prosecution and it is his or her job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty. References
Cornell University. (2009). Criminal Law. Retrieved March 6, 2011 from http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Criminal_law Criminal liability. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/143144/criminal-liability Russo, V. (2009). Criminal Law. Retrieved March 6, 2010 from http://www.occriminallaw.com/inchoate-offenses.htm Schmalleger, F. (2010) Criminal Law Today: A capstone with criminal cases. 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Prentice Hall. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/jurisdiction