Functions of Criminal Law

Many may wonder what is criminal law and how and why was it put in place? There have been criminals since back in biblical times and thus the start of criminal law. During this time, laws where molded from the “eye for an eye” standard and thus becoming a set of established laws. This was not literal to the eye itself but the value of an eye, in other words “value for value”. When read in context, this is a statement of the modern “rule of proportionality” standard used in our courts today.

Over time criminal law has developed into five functions: maintaining order, resolving disputes, protecting individuals and property, provide for a smooth functioning society and safeguarding civil liberties. (“Functions of criminal,”) These functions touch on different aspects of life and living by setting standards. In this paper I will discuss each of these functions and the role they play in society. First, I will touch on maintaining order. This provides predictability, letting people know what to expect from others. Without this, there would be chaos and uncertainty. To maintain order we rely on the services provided by the police departments, courts, and corrections. The purpose of police is to maintain order and also provide services.

They operate within a community to prevent and control crime. They also assist prosecutors in criminal investigations by gathering evidence necessary to obtain convictions in the court. The purpose of the courts is to discover the truth and seek justice accordingly using their key players being prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges. Lastly, probation, parole, jail, prison serve as correctional agencies who’s purpose it to punish, rehabilitate and ensure public safety through means of incarceration, community based programs, electric monitoring/house arrest among others.

(“The structure of,”) Secondly, let’s touch on resolving disputes. The law makes it possible to resolve conflicts and disputes between quarreling citizens. By means of arbitration and/or mediation one can actually have their issue handled outside of court and be provided a peaceful and orderly way to have their grievance, such as small claims, divorce, separation, abuse, harassment, evictions, etc., handled. (“Resolving your dispute,” 2013) While mediation is a non-bonding process that allows a neutral third-party, usually the mediator, to work with both party to assist in bringing about an agreeable settlement.

The mediator carries no authority. In arbitration, the arbitrator acts more like a judge hearing the evidence presented and making a decision that is binding to both of the parties involved. Next, we have protecting individuals and property. This protects citizens from the rebellious criminals who inflict harm on others or take their property. Many of the criminal laws are intended for those who steal and harm the physical integrity of ones body. (“Functions of criminal,”) There are numerous laws against harming or attempting to harm another by methods of battery, assault, murder, homicide, rape, and domestic violence.

When it comes to ones property there are another set of criminal codes providing penalties for criminal damage, trespassing, theft, robbery, extortion, burglary, and fraud. This is only a short list of crimes that a person and/or their property are protected from. Then, providing for a smooth functioning society enables the government to collect taxes, control pollution, and accomplish other socially beneficial tasks.

(“Functions of criminal,”) Criminal prosecutions punish tax law violators and deter other persons who would violate those laws. They have also enacted guidelines and penalties for industrial and commercial sources such as oil refineries, power plants, garbage dumps, automobiles, steel mills and also chemical plants such as dry cleaning and restaurant establishments, to establish a clean air policy.

Finally, there is safeguarding civil liberties meaning criminal law protects an individual’s freedom to exercise one’s rights as guaranteed under the laws of the country. Examples of the civil liberties that are safeguarded are your rights under the U.S. Constitution, more specifically would be the five listed in the First Amendment; speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. (“Civil liberties and,” 2013) These guarantee that the government cannot step in and tell you what religion you have to practice, if any. You can say what you want and think how you want.

Actions to some thoughts can have varied results. Overall, criminal law regulates social conduct and proscribes threatening, harming, or otherwise endangering the health, safety, and moral welfare of people. It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws. They keep things fair for all without discrimination, if something is not fair a law can always be changed by utilizing your right to vote (“Why do we,” 2011). People say at one time or another they would like have no rules (laws) to live by. Think about if we lived in a law-free nation?

It would be completely chaotic, ruthless and dangerous. Society itself would break down. Now, think about all those times the police get called for fights, loud noise, unruly kids, parties, bars, shop lifting, stealing, medical emergencies…the list goes on and on until you are blue in the face. The cost of everyday items would be outrageous; you think gas is high now? Most people do not realize how many laws have effect in their day to day life, just think of what you do and what you use and what law is protecting you from harms way.


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