The criminal justice system has within it a set of rules, regulations and guidelines, known as criminal laws which are based on various sources, some dating back to England. Criminal law also has a purpose for which it was designed. Criminal laws have jurisdiction which keeps it structured and in order. Within criminal law are various offenses for which there must be standards of proof. Criminal law addresses liabilities as well, such as criminal liability and accomplice liability.
In addition there are various types of offenses, one set of offenses known as inchoate offenses, which will be discussed and compared with other types of criminal offenses here. Sources and Purposes of Criminal Law Criminal law is made up of several laws which are assembled in a system that defines certain classifications of criminal activities and also defines the punishment for these criminal activities (Blackwell, 2007).
These laws within the criminal justice system come from several sources, and they include; The United States Constitution, State Constitutions, The United States Criminal Code, The State Criminal Codes, Municipal Ordinances (for local laws), Common Law of both England and the United States, but rooted in England, and finally on a very controversial issue that of the judicial decisions, such as federal, or supreme court decisions (Blackwell, 2007).
The United States Constitution deals with crimes against the federal government and the rights of those accused by the United States as well and treason is truly one of the main issues that this addresses. State Constitutions deal with state laws and issues regarding individual states. The United States criminal code includes all the offenses against the United States Government, the state criminal code deals with the laws regarding the individual states and municipal ordinances deal with items such as traffic and misdemeanors and other issues.
The last of these is the judicial decisions, and this is probably the most controversial of all of these (Blackwell, 2007). The reason for the controversy is that many times these decisions involve politics (Blackwell, 2007), and are made solely on that purpose, and they can be overturned as well for purely political means. One example of this is the British Petroleum leak in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year and a Federal Judge in Louisiana ruled that deep water drilling could continue despite the fact that President wanted it stopped and in fact had the judge’s ruling overturned.
The judge was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, so one can see the politics involved and the controversy it can sometimes cause, another example would be the Federal Judge in San Francisco who ruled in favor of same sex marriage against the will of the people for political reasons, even though the people had voted against it in the elections. Jurisdictions Jurisdiction is the legal authority over a person, the place of the crime and the crime. For instance the federal government has no authority over a traffic crime, because that is the jurisdiction of the individual states.
Kidnapping would fall under the federal jurisdiction, but the state authorities assist in this area and in some cases there may be cross jurisdiction with shared authority. More specifically and according to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law “Jurisdiction generally describes any authority over a certain area or certain persons. In the law, jurisdiction sometimes refers to a particular geographic area containing a defined legal authority. For example, the federal government is a jurisdiction unto itself. Its power spans the entire United States.
Each state is also a jurisdiction unto itself with power to pass its own laws. Smaller geographic areas, such as counties and cities, are separate jurisdictions to the extent that they have powers independent of the federal and state governments” (answers. com 2010, p 1). The Adversarial System and Standards of Proof The centerpiece of the adversarial system deals with the collection and preservation of evidence. When presenting evidence this is critical as the both judge and jury must be persuaded based on the evidence presented to them.
The object being, in the case of either side is to “close the sale” so to speak to the judge and the jury and persuade them to their way of thinking. When talking about standard of proof there are actually levels or degrees of proof which are used with the highest being reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt must be proven for the case to be discharged. The defendant has the right to question the prosecution. In addition the defense and prosecution must share any evidence obtains throughout the trial (Huntley, 2010). Liability Concepts The two concepts of liability are; accomplice liability and criminal liability.
Accomplice liability is usually used when prosecutors wish to expand the scope of the crime, and this would deal with specifically those other individuals in the peripheral areas involved in the crime whether directly or indirectly (Devine, 2009). Criminal Liability deals with criminal acts that the defendant is accused it is the commission of the criminal act or acts that makes them liable or responsible for the act of the crime (Hill and Hill, 2005). Inchoate Offenses The Inchoate crime simply refers to the implication that one may be inclined to commit a crime even though there was no crime actually committed.
Inchoate can actually mean something that has not quite ripened yet. The idea is that by this being dealt with the potential to commit the crime can actually be stopped dead in its tracks. The inchoate offense is made up of three separate divisions which are; solicitation, attempt, and conspiracy (Stevens, 2003). All of these speak to the fact of the potential to commit the crime with the mentality that if left to their own devices the suspects would actually move into the action phase of the crime.
Conclusion Criminal law provides the basis for our criminal justice system and provides the rules and guidelines, based on the United States Constitution and common laws brought from England and adapted to the needs of a growing country. Criminal law is has jurisdictions which provide checks and balances as a whole and criminal law also provides checks and balance in the courtroom with regard to the adversarial system and the burden of proof. Liabilities are also addressed in criminal law with regard to accomplice liabilities and criminal liabilities. In addition inchoate offenses are also considered in criminal law.