About Criminal Laws

Criminal laws are also called penal laws. Criminal law is the body of statutory and common law dealing with crime and the legal punishment of legal offenses based on the four theories of criminal justice system, namely, punishment, deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. All this imposition of sanctions about the crime is to achieve justice and a peaceable social order.

The objective of criminal law is to exert social control. It aims at discouraging behavior that is detrimental to the well being of the society as well as behavior that challenge the government’s authority and legitimacy.

The criminal laws and punishments are so set up that they act as deterrents and help in restraining behavior of the people. With criminal laws handling the setting up of procedures for punishing offenders the state and not the victim (who may be seeking vengeance) hands down the punishment.

The criminal charges are filed and the criminal proceedings take place in a series of stages. It is the police who respond and take action to any citizen’s complaint lodged. The police may also feel suspicious and in such case they investigate, take down statements from various important witnesses and based on the findings make ready a report. They can arrest people during the course of the investigation. They may alternatively (as is usually the case) complete the report and submit it to the prosecutor’s office for evaluation. It will be the prosecutor who will be deciding whether or not criminal charges will be filed against any suspect named in the police report. The procedures for filing charges, however, vary among jurisdictions.

There are some jurisdictions that give greater discretionary powers to the police in charging defendants with specific crimes while others are there that provide greater powers in this regard to the prosecutor. After being stopped by the police the person concerned i.e. the defendant may be ticketed for a ‘civil infraction’ or may be ticketed or arrested for a ‘misdemeanor’ or perhaps even be arrested for a ‘felony’. It can be that the police may be arresting a person while alongside recommending a specific charge, yet, criminal charges are usually chosen solely by the prosecutor’s office

The process of criminal justice begins with an alleged crime. The police investigate upon the allegation that the complainant makes. The police, in this case, act as the agent of the government. A complaint or an indictment- a formal charging document as brought by the grand jury is filed with a court in the appropriate jurisdiction.

A prosecuting attorney represents the interests of the state. The interests of the defendant are represented by the defense attorney or by the defendant pro se i.e. the defendant acting as his/her own attorney. The process culminates with a jury trial regardless of local laws that may be followed by mandatory or discretionary appeals to higher courts. The criminal lawyer makes you aware of your rights with the police, your rights in the courtroom and your rights upon conviction.