Criminal law differs from civil law in that it is a legal system that involves punishing individuals who commit crimes. Therefore, criminal proceedings involve a decision by the government on whether to punish someone’s actions or omissions while the person debates if both are at odds with their rights in a civil case.
Crime means an act or omission that violates the law prohibiting the act or omission.
Codes of crime
Each state decides on what to specify as a criminal offense. Therefore, each state has its own criminal law. Criminal law between states and the federal government is very different.
Code of Criminal Procedure
There is a description of a variety of federal offences, including kidnapping, mass murder, espionage, corruption, forgery and counterfeiting, use of chemical weapons and arson. These rules usually provide the most important judgment that applies to a convicted individual.
Precise procedures by the federal government have been set in place and must be carried out during unlawful proceedings. They fall under the federal code of criminal processes.
If the actions of an individual can achieve all the offence elements, that individual constitutes to have committed a crime. Criminal law also determines the elements of the crime. Generally speaking, each crime has three elements. One is the conduct or action. Second is the mental state of the individual when the behavior occurred (“mental awareness”). And third, the causal relationship between the behavior and the effect (usually “approximate causal relationship” or (“but causal relationship”). In criminal proceedings, the government has the burden of proof to determine the entire contents of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the provisions of the Supreme Court in the United States, if the regulation does not prescribe a particular state of mind, the court speculates on “the spirit necessary to distinguish between cheating and behavior innocent”.
Types of crime
Crimes can usually be divided into four subdivisions: strict liability, early felony, misdemeanor and felony.
The federal government and every state decides which actions to criminalize. According to the common law, there are nine main types of felony including: robbery, mayhem, arson, larceny, sodomy, rape, manslaughter, burglary and murder.Also, there are varied misdemeanors including: Jury intimidation, perjury, false imprisonment, battery and assault.
The United States Code is much broader compared to the common law. However, Congress has limited authority to enact criminal law. State criminal law (like New York criminal law) is much more complex than US law because this authority is usually reserved by the state. The New York Criminal Code provides for nine levels of crime, from fourth-level mortgage fraud to terrorism.
State and Federal governments have developed various sentencing guidelines. Federal courts use the Federal Judgment Guidelines and state courts review individual-state judgment guidelines.
Liability of complicity
When multiple parties are involved, the traditional first step is to classify participants into the following categories:
- Principal first degree – the person who actually committed the crime (the criminal). Criminals are not accomplices and this section has nothing to do with them.
- Principal with a second degree – A person who encourages, orders, directs or assists a criminal in an actual crime. The person making the bet is considered an accomplice.
- Factual attachment – People who abetted, aided, ordered or consulted criminals to commit a crime, but who did not exist at the time the crime occurred. Attachment even before the fact, is considered an accomplice.
- Post-Aid – A person who knows one is a criminal and helps the individual and prevents him from being punished, tried, arrested or found. This section has nothing to do with attachments (after the facts have been established) as this is another crime.
To convict an accomplice, the prosecutor must determine the necessary behaviors and mental tendencies. In other words, the prosecutor must prove that the accomplice has the mental state necessary to support and do so with the criminal. It is important to note that some jurisdictions allow partners in crime to be prosecuted independently of the main offender. Therefore, the accomplice can be determined to have committed a more serious crime than the offender. In some jurisdictions accomplices can be found guilty, while accused criminals can be acquitted.
Ex post facto
This law punishes actions retroactively. Explicitly, the Constitution prohibits this practice in section 9 and 10 of Articles 1.
The law cannot punish a person by his position alone. The Supreme Court Explains that a law criminalizing an individual’s identity violates the 8th and 14th amendment. This is a cruel and extraordinary punishment. For example, a state cannot punish an individual for being “homeless” which constitutes a state crime, but it can punish a homeless person for suspected trespassing or wandering.
In criminal proceedings, defendants can invoke various defenses. A criminal lawyer like Aswani Datt will know the best course of defense for the defendant.The following list shows some common defenses upon which an individual depends.
- Insufficient Evidence – An individual’s simplest defense in criminal proceedings is to claim that the prosecution does not or cannot prove the elements that make up the crime.
- Mistakes – In some cases, personal mistakes can be used as a defense.
o Legal error – An error related to the impact of legal status or certain circumstances.
o A factor error – An error in a particular situation.
- Reason – These are complete defenses
o Self Defense: Use your power to protect yourself from the attempts of others.
o Protection of property: force can be used to protect property against internal crimes.
o Protect others: the rights of a third party are protected with reasonable force to prevent an attacker who attempts to use force against the third party
o Emergency evacuation: allows an individual to perform other illegal actions, provided that these actions avoid further harm.
- Excuse – these are partial defenses
o Coercion: If another person forces them to engage in an illegal activity by force or threat of force, that person can request coercion.
o Intoxication: Those who are reluctantly intoxicated can use this as a defense against any crime. People who are intoxicated voluntarily can protect themselves against crimes that have only a certain mental state.
o Madness: a mad person cannot be condemned because he cannot develop the required mental state.
In conclusion, the federal government and every state decides which actions to criminalize, however, each state decides on what to specify as a criminal offense. Therefore, each state has its own criminal law.