Purposes of Criminal Law

During the first two weeks of this criminal justice course, this class has discussed the structure of the criminal justice system and also has reviewed the models that comprise the criminal justice system. In this paper I will examine the aspects of criminal law. I will describe the purposes of criminal law, which will entail the two main functions of criminal law, and will address how criminal responsibility could be limited. In this paper I will identify one justification and excuse defense. I will also explain why they are used.

By reading this paper, one should have a description of the procedural safeguard that protects American Constitutional rights. Purposes of Criminal Law Many may wonder what the purpose of Criminal law is. In my opinion, it is to protect the people of society. In actuality the main function of Criminal law is to protect citizens from harms to their safety and property and from harms to society’s collective interests (Criminal Justice in Action, 2006). That basically means that the criminal law protects people from the harms of murder, theft or arson.

It also protects the society interests collectively. It is a criminal law polluting the environment and also bad consumer products that are not safe. The second function of Criminal law protects the values of Citizens in the society. An example of protecting the values of citizens is to arrest prostitutes and drug dealers. They are not hurting anyone because the other party me be in content with the act, but in reality someone will be hurt. The U. S. Constitution and state constitutions are written sources of American criminal law. They are the supreme law.

The U. S. Constitution it the law of this country and the state constitutions are the supreme law of the state. Another written source of American criminal law is the statutes passed by Congress and state legislatures. The statutes refer to the conduct that is expected of the general public in near future. Administrative Agency Regulations along with the Case Law are other forms of written American criminal law. Administrative Agency Regulations functions are rule making, investigation and enforcement, and adjudication (Criminal Justice in Action, 2006).

Limited Criminal Responsibility There are a number of justification and excuse defenses for criminal law. An excuse defense is to plead insanity. In order for some one to be excused by the defense of insanity, there defense attorney must prove that the defendant did not have the necessary mental capacity to be held responsible for his or her actions at the time of the crime. There are different test that could be taken to help an insanity plea. The different tests include: the M’Naughten rule, which is a right vs.

wrong test; the irresistible impulse test; the Durham rule, which could also be called the products test, where the criminal act was the product of a mental defect or disease; and the substantial capacity test (Criminal Justice in Action, 2006). An example of a justification defense is to Self Defense. In order for Self Defense to be justified the defense attorney must prove that the defendant acted in a manner to defend himself or herself or they acted in the manner to defend other people, or even property. The self defense plea could also be justified if the defendant acted in the manner to prevent the commission of a crime.

These are just a few examples of how self defense could be justified. Procedural Safeguards Many defense attorneys use the Bill of Rights as safeguards for the accused criminal. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the U. S. Constitution. It is the basis for procedural safeguards in the United States. The bill of right protects the accused from unreasonable searches and seizures being held on them. It also guarantees that no person can be required to be a witness against (incriminate) himself or herself. As you may have heard before in television court cases… You may have heard someone plead the Fifth.

They were referring to the Fifth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, which is apart of the Bill of Rights. You also may have heard the police recite the rights to people as they arrest them. The officers say that the accused has the right to be silent…anything they say could and will be used against them in the court of law. They have a right to consult an attorney. If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be given to them. The police have to recite these rights to the accused or they will be in violation of the U. S. Constitution. Another procedural safeguard is the Due Process Clause.

The Due Process Clause is basically the provision of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It put restrictions of the government so that they can not act unfairly. It guarantees that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. People in the government can not make independent judgments on the accused without being in the boundaries of reason to a law (Criminal Justice in Action, 2006). Reference: Criminal Justice in Action: The Core (2006). Wadsworth, Division of Thomson Learning, Inc