A crime is committed when a person has violated the law by the state, federal government and local jurisdiction system and cannot be justified. Crime can be categorized in several types of ways; felonies, misdemeanors, offenses, treason and espionage and inchoate offenses. Felonies are considered to be major crimes which could cost an offender jail time, probation and confiscated property. The two most common models of how society determines whether a crime has been committed are criminal law and criminal justice. Criminal law relates to crime and punishment.
In contrast, criminal justice focus is geared towards the right and wrong doing in situations. There is no separation between social and criminal justice because justice is portrayed by our nation’s criminal court. The law is a set of guidelines that has been applied through public establishment to regulate behavior wherever possible. Criminal law has two essential parts which are substantive criminal law that identifies crimes and punishment the offender may face and procedural law is a method use to enforce substantive law.
The government structure that applies to the criminal justice system is connected by the federal, state and local level. The government has three branches to help avert and manage crime the legislature, judiciary and the executive. The legislature division determines what is right and wrong and how congress passes laws. The executive branch enforces the law and judiciary system interprets the law. Criminological theory is an explanation of the causes of crime and how it is connected within the criminal justice system.
Understanding the criminal is significant to first understand how civilization thinks and determine what acts are considering a crime. A thought based on classical and neoclassical of criminology is a choice theory. Conscious choices created by choice theory are a basic belief of criminality. To understand choice theory, it is important to first address the basic assumptions use by classical theorist.
Schmalleger (2009) stated, "Crime is caused by the individual exercise of free will. Human beings are fundamentally rational, and most human behavior is the result of free will coupled with rational choice” (pp. 83-84). Early theorist of the classical school believed that pain and pleasure were the dominate traits that governed human behavior.
These early rational were replaced with a more modern rational choice theory. Scott (2000) stated, "What distinguishes rational choice theory form other forms of theory is that it denies the existence of any kinds of action other than purely rational and calculative. All social action can be seen as rationally motivated, as instrumental actions, however much it may appear to be irrational or non-rational” (p. 2). The concept of personal choice is rooted in the analysis of human behavior developed by Ceasar Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. Bentham essentially said that an individual would commit a crime as long as the reward outweighed the consequences.