Criminal law is the body of criminal law, which applies to criminal behavior. It pertains to conduct constituting a crime whether ordered by a court of law or not. It also encompasses civil law, which is governed by general laws such as the penal code. It also includes trusts and corporate law.
In the United States, the federal government implements most of the law relating to criminal law, including sentencing, punishment, probation, parole, and the death penalty. State governments also implement many aspects of the criminal code, including criminal law, including state penal code. Each jurisdiction establishes its own laws and regulations related to crimes, including penalties for those crimes. Federal and state juries determine the outcome of criminal cases through deliberations in a formal trial before the judge.
The major components of the criminal law include felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are punishable by sentences of life imprisonment and may be handled through the state court system or the jury trial. Felonies are divided into two broad categories: violent crimes against the public or society, and non-violent crimes against society or government. Almost all state criminal codes include a provision defining the types of crimes.
Misdemeanors are lesser offenses with minor penalties. They include driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of drugs for personal use, and simple possession of illegal drugs. Commonly, Misdemeanors are handled through the same criminal proceedings as felonies, but are punished less severely. As in the case of felonies, Misdemeanors are tried by juries. The punishment may be probation, community service, or incarceration.
In the state of California, the major component of the criminal law system is the penal code. Unlike the penal code of many other states, the California penal code does not require the presence of a mental illness for the offense of a Misdemeanor. Thus, persons who are found guilty of petty offenses such as shoplifting may be eligible for probation or, in serious cases, the more severe penalties of a prison term. The defense lawyer that his client chooses may have some say in whether or not his client will be sentenced to probation or to prison.
California criminal law also includes crimes against property. This includes stealing or arson, forgery and grand theft, assault and battery, and burglary. In addition, a person who commits a crime against another person can be charged with a crime against society, which is also included among the types of criminal acts. California criminal law also includes other offenses not traditionally associated with felonies and Misdemeanors. These include sodomy, fornication, oral sex, forgery, and certain forms of fraud.