Criminal Law Is Defined at Both the Essay

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Criminal law is defined at both the state and federal level of American government. In the United States, "most crimes ...are established by local, state, and federal governments," with the exception of common law crimes ("Criminal Law" 2010). There are some definition of crimes that vary significantly from state to state, but for the most part states confer to the Model Penal Code. Criminal law is the aspect of government that focuses on the prosecution of acts defined as crimes at the local, state, or federal level.

Criminal law therefore invokes constitutional clauses such as the due process of law. Individual citizens have the right to legal representation and are theoretically equally protected under the law. Criminal law therefore serves several distinct and sometimes conflicting fronts: the prosecutor (usually the local, state, or federal government); the victim of the crime; and the defendant or accused.

When a crime is perpetrated, any suspects are also considered subject to criminal leal procedures of the state. Due process always applies, and criminal law operates within the realm of constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms. The state has the burden of proof to determine whether or not an individual was guilty of a crime. At the same time, the state has at its disposal a wealth of resources that can aid the victim to achieve justice for any criminal wrongdoing.

The main functions of criminal law include the following.
First, any person deemed a criminal offender is guaranteed due process, a right established in the United States Constitution and extending from the Magna Carta. Second, when a crime is committed, the victim is guaranteed protection by the state. When a crime is victimless, the state acts on behalf of public welfare, health, or safety. For example, drug crimes are victimless. White collar crimes may be classified as criminal but have no specific victim appeal such as in the case of fraud.

Further functions of criminal law include the ability of the state to prosecute or pass judgment on an offender. This process involves access to the due process of law, which may or may not involve a trial. In many cases, criminal cases are tried outside of a courtroom and involve legal proceedings that do not depend on a public jury. The state prosecutor and the accused each have access to legal services, and a series of negotiations determines any sentencing. In the case of such negotiations, a declaration of guilt vs. innocence may not be formally lodged.

When a criminal case is brought to trial, a jury of peers determines the guilt or innocence of the defendant based on evidence presented in court. Criminal law is therefore an integral part of the democratic process. Ideally, citizens are involved enough in the judicial process to hear evidence in….....

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