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Criminal Law

Criminal law is the body of law that apply to criminal acts. A person commits a criminal act by violating a law; this is an instance where an individual fails to adhere to a particular criminal statute. Criminal law is often mistaken for civil law, but these are two different bodies of the law. Criminal law penalties involve the loss of one’s rights and imprisonment. On the other hand, civil laws aim to resolve the issue through discussion, compensation and the involvement of monetary damages.

There are many reasons why criminal laws are necessary. Criminal laws exist to deter crime, to reform the perpetrator, to provide retribution for the act, and to prevent further crimes. Like most laws, crime laws exist to protect people and give justice to those who were harmed.


Types of Criminal Laws

There are two types of criminal laws, which are misdemeanours and felonies.



A misdemeanour offence is considered as a lower-level criminal offence. This includes the following offences:

  • Minor assaults
  • Traffic offences
  • Petty thefts

The penalty for a misdemeanour crime is typically one year or less in most states. Different states may have different takes on how to handle misdemeanour crimes.



Felony crimes involve more severe or serious offences. Some examples of felony crimes are the following:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Drug dealing
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Arson

Much like misdemeanour crimes, different states have their own way of dealing with felony crimes. Felonies can carry a penalty of one year or more, depending upon the particular nature of the offence and the jurisdiction where the felony crime was committed.


Parts of Criminal Law Statutes

Criminal law statutes contain two distinct parts, which are the mens rea and the actus reus.


Mens rea

Mens rea refers to the mental state that an individual possessed when they committed a crime. For instance, if someone commits murder, it is crucial that the party committing the murder intended to engage in the act. The intention which the individual had at the time of the crime is the mens rea of the crime of murder.


Actus reus

The other part of a criminal statute is the actus reus. This part of the criminal law pertains to the action taken by the perpetrator. An example is when charging a case for drug dealing, the perpetrator must have actually sold the drugs. The action of selling the drugs is required for the criminal statute’s actus reus to exist.


Criminal Lawyers

Criminal laws cover numerous issues in society. As mentioned previously, they deal with murder, rape or robbery. All the parties involved in a criminal charge needs to have a lawyer who is street-smart with a thorough understanding of criminal law. The criminal lawyer also needs to know the procedures and the functionings of the judicial system by heart.

The individual accused of criminal offences can get a defence lawyer for these trials. Criminal lawyers will usually work on the case from the beginning to the end.

Crimes carry a lot of notoriety and ill-will. A lawyer needs to maintain absolute discretion when it comes to dealing with their clients.