Criminal Justice Systems and the Prosecution
Criminal law is the body of criminal law, which deals with criminal behavior. It also prescribes criminal conduct seen as dangerous, menacing, or otherwise harmful to people’s safety, property, economic welfare, and moral well being. It also punishes criminal behavior by state agencies and entities such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission among others. Criminal defense attorneys are lawyers who defend clients charged with crimes.
In contrast to the federal government and state government in criminal law, civil law governs conduct between private parties. Civil law does not have the power to punish criminal acts. Thus, in the event of crimes occurring on a person’s premises, these would be subject to civil law jurisdiction. In contrast to criminal acts, civil law does not require evidence of criminal intent, knowledge of the commission of the crime, or even venue. Civil cases generally result in less severe punishments and remedies.
Federal criminal law comes under the U.S. Constutions and statutory law. Statutory laws are laws passed by state legislatures that are codified in the U.S. Constitution and are enforced by the federal government. Statutes include civil and criminal acts. Civil statutes can be comprised of several types of laws including offenses against property, offenses involving the filing of lawsuits, offenses involving the filing of petitions for redress of grievances, offenses defined against corporations, offenses defined against the public, offenses involving campaign contributions, offenses against international terrorism, offenses against child pornography, and even crimes against the executive and legislative branch of government. Some statutes also define the qualifications of witnesses in criminal proceedings.
Civil offenses are generally lesser crimes than federal criminal law. They include non-violent minor crimes such as trespassing, disturbing the peace, assault, disorderly conduct, interfering with a child’s right to privacy, and mischief. The federal government and most state governments have comprehensive mechanisms to prosecute crimes against humanity. These offenses are punishable by both sentences and capital punishment.
The punishment of crimes also varies based upon the nature of the crime and the state in which the crime was committed. In addition, the nature of the criminal process employed by the prosecution and the state court plays a significant role in shaping the severity of the sentence imposed on the offender. The prosecution is required to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas the state courts are considered self-regulating when it comes to proving the elements of the crime.
Criminal justice systems in the United States to address many different types of criminal law. They include common felony crimes, such as murder, robbery, rape, arson, embezzlement, possession of drugs or substances containing a controlled substance, conspiracy, racketeering, theft, auto theft, and burglary, as well as more serious crimes, including rape, homicide, arson, embezzlement, assault, murder, assault and battery, sexual assault and other sex crimes. Additionally, some states explicitly criminalize hate crimes, such as those motivated by anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-transgendered, or anti-religious beliefs. The punishment for such crimes are provided for individually as well as in aggregate. As one might expect, the types of crimes and their associated punishments are quite complex and are discussed below.