Hastings Chambers
3rd Floor, Room #3A, 7C, Kiran Shankar Roy Road,
Kolkata - 700 001, West Bengal, India.

 

Mobile No. : 98311 03325

 

Phone No. : +91-33-2242 8829 / 30 / 2248 4094

 

Fax : +91-33-2230 8982

 

E-mail : utpalmajumdaradvocates@gmail.com

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CRIMINAL LAW

 
Criminal law, or penal law, is the bodies of rules with the potential for severe impositions as punishment for failure to comply. Criminal punishment, depending on the offense and jurisdiction, may include execution, loss of liberty, government supervision (parole or probation), or fines. There are some archetypal crimes, like murder, but the acts that are forbidden are not wholly consistent between different criminal codes, and even within a particular code lines may be blurred as civil infractions may give rise also to criminal consequences. Criminal law typically is enforced by the government, unlike the civil law, which may be enforced by private parties.
 

OBJECTIVES OF CRIMINAL LAW

Criminal law is distinctive for the uniquely serious potential consequences or sanctions for failure to abide by its rules. Every crime is composed of criminal elements. Capital punishment may be imposed in some jurisdictions for the most serious crimes. Physical or corporal punishment may be imposed such as whipping or caning, although these punishments are prohibited in much of the world. Individuals may be incarcerated in prison or jail in a variety of conditions depending on the jurisdiction. Confinement may be solitary. Length of incarceration may vary from a day to life. Government supervision may be imposed, including house arrest, and convicts may be required to conform to particularized guidelines as part of a parole or probation regimen. Fines also may be imposed, seizing money or property from a person convicted of a crime.

 
 

Five objectives are widely accepted for enforcement of the criminal law by punishments: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. Jurisdictions differ on the value to be placed on each.


• Retribution - Criminals ought to suffer in some way. This is the most widely seen goal. Criminals have taken improper advantage, or inflicted unfair detriment, upon others and consequently, the criminal law will put criminals at some unpleasant disadvantage to "balance the scales." People submit to the law to receive the right not to be murdered and if people contravene these laws, they surrender the rights granted to them by the law. Thus, one who murders may be murdered himself. A related theory includes the idea of "righting the balance."


• Deterrence - Individual deterrence is aimed toward the specific offender. The aim is to impose a sufficient penalty to discourage the offender from criminal behavior. General deterrence aims at society at large. By imposing a penalty on those who commit offenses, other individuals are discouraged from committing those offenses.


• Incapacitation - Designed simply to keep criminals away from society so that the public is protected from their misconduct. This is often achieved through prison sentences today. The death penalty or banishment have served the same purpose.


• Rehabilitation - Aims at transforming an offender into a valuable member of society. Its primary goal is to prevent further offense by convincing the offender that their conduct was wrong.


• Restitution - This is a victim-oriented theory of punishment. The goal is to repair, through state authority, any hurt inflicted on the victim by the offender. For example, one who embezzles will be required to repay the amount improperly acquired. Restitution is commonly combined with other main goals of criminal justice and is closely related to concepts in the civil law.

 

SELECTED CRIMINAL LAWS

Many laws are enforced by threat of criminal punishment, and their particulars may vary widely from place to place. The entire universe of criminal law is too vast to intelligently catalog. Nevertheless, the following are some of the more known aspects of the criminal law.
 

1. Elements
The criminal law generally prohibits undesirable acts. Thus, proof of a crime requires proof of some act. Scholars label this the requirement of an actus reus or guilty act. Some crimes – particularly modern regulatory offenses – require no more, and they are known as strict liability offenses. Nevertheless, because of the potentially severe consequences of criminal conviction, judges at common law also sought proof of an intent to do some bad thing, the mens rea or guilty mind. As to crimes of which both actus reus and mens rea are requirements, judges have concluded that the elements must be present at precisely the same moment and it is not enough that they occurred sequentially at different times.

 

2. Strict liability
Strict liability is a concept normally applied to civil, not criminal law. It can be described as liability for harm caused by the defendant, regardless of mens rea or intent. Not all crimes require specific intent, and the threshold of culpability required may be reduced. For example, it might be sufficient to show that a defendant acted negligently, rather than intentionally or recklessly. In offenses of absolute liability, other than the prohibited act, it may not be necessary to show the act was intentional. Generally, crimes must include an intentional act, and "intent" is an element that must be proved in order to find a crime occurred. The idea of a "strict liability crime" is an oxymoron. The few exceptions are not truly crimes at all - but are administrative regulations and civil penalites are created by statute, such as crimes against the traffic or highway code.

 

3. Fatal offenses
A murder, defined broadly, is an unlawful killing. Unlawful killing is probably the act most frequently targeted by the criminal law. In many jurisdictions, the crime of murder is divided into various gradations of severity, e.g., murder in the first degree, based on intent. Malice is a required element of murder. Manslaughter is a lesser variety of killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent, recklessness.

 

4. Personal offenses
Many criminal codes protect the physical integrity of the body. The crime of battery is traditionally understood as an unlawful touching, although this does not include everyday knocks and jolts to which people silently consent as the result of presence in a crowd. Creating a fear of imminent battery is an assault, and also may give rise to criminal liability. Non-consensual intercourse, or rape, is a particularly egregious form of battery.

 

5. Property offenses
Property often is protected by the criminal law. Trespassing is unlawful entry onto the real property of another. Many criminal codes provide penalties for conversion, embezzlement, theft, all of which involve deprivations of the value of the property. Robbery is a theft by force. Fraud in the UK is a breach of the Fraud Act 2006 by false representation, by failure to disclose information or by abuse of position.

 

6. Participatory offenses
Some criminal codes criminalize association with a criminal venture or involvement in criminality that does not actually come to fruition. Some examples are aiding, abetting, conspiracy, and attempt. However, in Scotland, the English concept of Aiding and Abetting is known as Art and Part Liability. See Glanville Williams, Textbook of Criminal Law, (London: Stevens & Sons, 1983); Glanville Willaims, Criminal Law the General Part (London: Stevens & Sons, 1961).

 

CRIMINAL LAW JURISDICTIONS

Public international law deals extensively and increasingly with criminal conduct, that is heinous and ghastly enough to affect entire societies and regions. The formative source of modern international criminal law was the Nuremberg trials following the Second World War in which the leaders of Nazism were prosecuted for their part in genocide and atrocities across Europe. The Nuremberg trials marked the beginning of criminal fault for individuals, where individuals acting on behalf of a government can be tried for violations of international law without the benefit of sovereign immunity. In 1998 an International criminal court was established in the Rome Statute.
 
 
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Location
Hastings Chambers
3rd Floor, Room #3A, 7C, Kiran Shankar Roy Road, Kolkata - 700 001, West Bengal, India.
PHONE NO. : +91-33-2242 8829 / 30 / 2248 4094
FAX : +91-33-2230 8982
E-MAIL : utpalmajumdaradvocates@gmail.com
WEBSITE : www.advocatesutpalmajumdar.com
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