The first main function of criminal law is protect and punish. It is also known as the legal function. The main function of this legal function is to uphold social order by protecting the citizens from criminal harm. There are two types of criminal harm. The first is harm caused to individual people both to themselves and their property. These crimes can be from murder, assault, theft or even arson. The second harm can be cause to everyone by unsafe foods, contaminated city drinking water, poorly maintained sewage and unsafe buildings.
The second main function of criminal law is maintain and teach also know as the social function of the law. This function of criminal law provides laws that make penalties for crimes that are wrong morally but do not cause any type of harm to anyone with the exception to maybe a persons family members. Some people believe that criminal laws do not just say what is expected of the people but also criminal laws teach people also. Laws change over time to fit how society looks upon things.
Take sodomy for example; Sodomy is a illegal and a criminal law but we see more and more now, married couples committing this act. Also look at the "porn" industry, they make a lot of movies and take many pictures of two people committing sodomy but it is now accepted by many in our society.
There are four written sources of criminal law. One of the sources is the U.S. Constitution. The others include statutory law, administrative law, and case law. The Constitutional law is based on the U. S Constitution and the constitutions of each state. A constitutional law is the supreme law and all other laws are based off of the constitutional law. If a law is considered unconstitutional, it will not be enforced and will be erased.
Statutes are passed by legislative bodies at any level of government. Federal statutes are laws that are passed by Congress and become federal laws. State statutes are laws that are passed by the state legislature and those that are passed become state laws. There are also laws that are passed by both cities and counties which are called ordinances. An example of a city ordinance is no person shall ride a skate board on the sidewalk in the downtown area of the city.
A administrative law is a law that is passed by a federal, state, or local government agency which is created to perform a particular job. Some examples of these agencies are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). OSHA watches over the safety and health of all the workers in the U.S. If a company is not giving the proper amount of breaks or is not trying to provide a safe working environment for its employees, OSHA steps in and penalizes the company for the wrong doing.
The EPA is in charge of protecting our environment. If a company is disposing chemicals incorrectly the EPA is in charge of penalizing the company for the specific violation. The FDA controls the foods and drugs that are created in the U.S. All foods and drugs in the U.S. must go through the FDA for approval first before they are shipped out of factories. If the FDA finds something wrong an item, they are responsible to make sure that item does not get distributed to people in the U.S.
A justification defense can be Duress. Duress occurs when a person is threatened by another person to commit a crime which the person would not normally commit. In order to be able to use duress as a defense, there are certain requirements that must be met. The first requirement is the threat must be of either serious bodily harm or of death. The second is the threat to the person must be more severe than the crime that is going to be committed by the person. Next, the threat must me instant and unavoidable. Finally the person being threatened must have committed the crime because they were forced against their will to commit it.
An excuse defense can be voluntary intoxication. A person can say they were intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol when they committed the crime and were not in the right frame of mind when it occurred. The down fall of this is the person that was intoxicated at the time of the crime voluntarily became intoxicated by consuming too much alcohol or taking illegal drugs. If this person would not have consumed alcohol or took illegal drugs, the crime would not have committed.
The Bill of Rights has provided the foundation for common safeguards of the accused in the U.S. since it was established. The safeguards that were given to the people are of the following.
1.The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. 2.The Fourth Amendment requires that no warrants for a search or an arrest can be issued without probable cause. 3.The Fifth Amendment requires that no one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without the "due process" of law. 4.The Fifth Amendment prohibits double jeopardy from occurring. 5.The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no one can be required self incriminate himself or herself. 6.The Sixth Amendment guarantees a person a speedy trial, a trial by jury, a public trial, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a lawyer at different periods of criminal trials.
7.The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bails and fines and cruel and unusual punishments.
At first the Bill of Rights offered people protection only against the federal government. Since then, the common safeguards for the Bill of Rights have been put in effect by state governments as well as more protection which was granted by the passing of the fourteenth amendment.
Both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments say that no one should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. This says that the government can not take away these items without having justifiable reason to do so. The decision can not be based on just an individuals judgment when making that decision. (Inside Criminal Law)
Reference (2006). Inside Criminal Law. In Criminal Justice in Action: The Core (pp. 76-91). : Thomson Learning, Inc.
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