Criminal law is the body of civil law, which primarily deals with criminal activity. It refers to criminal behavior undertaken with the intention of causing bodily injury, destruction of property, public disturbance, disruption of orderly society, invasion of personal liberty, etc. Criminal law involves violations of the criminal law but is not limited to such. It also includes civil law cases dealing with torts (acts done with the help of a lawyer) and criminal damages (injuries, damage or loss sustained by a person due to the fault of another).
Criminal law as we know it today evolved from the legal systems of ancient nations. The legal system of any country has a system of laws aimed at providing protection and support to citizens from the dangers of acts performed for criminal motives. Criminal law, therefore, can be thought of as a branch of the law system with jurisdiction over crimes, punishment of criminals, and rehabilitation of offenders. Civil law pertains to disputes between private parties and is dealt mostly with insurance, contracts, and other economic situations.
Criminal law is divided into two branches: criminal procedure and civil procedure. Criminal procedure includes the punishment prescribed by the penal code and includes punishment for crimes like murder, arson, rape, burglary, embezzlement, theft, etc. Other types of criminal law include punishment for defamation, piracy, terrorism, and breaches of the privacy of the press and television. Civil procedure is broader in nature and is applicable when there are injuries caused to a person or damage to property. It also includes accidents, damages to reputation, and negligent actions that cause bodily injury.
Criminal punishment is a term that can have various legal meanings. According to some legal authorities, there is no such thing as absolute punishment. Absolute punishment, the view favored by the courts, means that the gravity of the crime or the act does not depend on whether the state is at fault or not. For example, a person who kills someone because the person tried to rob him will not be charged with a capital crime (a capital crime is one that is punishable by the maximum penalty), despite the fact that the robbery was an act with grave personal and economic consequence. The death penalty, however, is only available for crimes of a Capital nature. The death penalty is therefore not a part of criminal law.
On the other hand, the state may make the use of certain criminal law tools to put a greater weight on a particular crime or to restrict some acts. In a broad sense, the state may use various criminal law tools to punish a crime or to deter specific crimes. These include mandatory sentences, preventive imprisonment, use of specialized courts, enhanced penalties for repeat offenses, use of incarceration as a punitive measure, etc. Some courts have allowed the use of capital punishment for certain crimes, but this has not been allowed in all states.
In criminal law, there are three classifications of crime: Misdemeanors, Misdemeanours, and Felonies. A misdemeanor is a unpermanent criminal offense that usually does not result in a prison sentence. Misdemeanours are offences that result in a suspended sentence or probationary sentence. Felonies, on the other hand, are criminal offences that result in a prison sentence of more than a year. Similarly, a violation of a no-fault statute is a Felony, whereas the same violation of a statutory law offense is a misdemeanor.
Every criminal law lawyer has his/her own area of specialization. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in particular crimes or areas of criminal law. These criminal defense lawyers can be regarded as criminal lawyers, criminal attorneys, court-martial lawyers, etc. Apart from these traditional fields of criminal law, however, there are also modern approaches to criminal law, which are known as criminal procedure and criminal justice.
Criminal law consists of different areas such as civil law, criminal law, international law, family law, corporate law, torts, corporate crime, administrative law, etc. The punishment incurred by a person depends on the nature and degree of criminal behavior. Punishment is also decided on the basis of the influence system and class of the convict, with respect to society. Criminal defense lawyers deal with the issues surrounding the administration of criminal law, with regards to criminal defense, with regard to criminal conviction, etc. Thus, criminal law is related to punishment, prevention, incapacitation, punishment and rehabilitation.