Homeworks academic service


The crimes in the criminal law of the united states

Criminal Law Overview Criminal law, as distinguished from civil lawis a system of laws concerned with punishment of individuals who commit crimes. Criminal Codes Each state decides what conduct to designate a crime. Thus, each state has its own criminal code.

  • But some defendants prefer a judge to a jury;
  • According to the Supreme Court, the Constitution requires that, in order to find the defendant guilty, the fact-finder, whether jury or judge, must determine that the prosecution has proven every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt;
  • The reach of federal criminal law grew inexorably throughout the 20th century;
  • In Anglo-American law one who instigates, encourages, or counsels the principal without being present during the crime is called an accessory before the fact; in continental law this third degree of participation is covered partly by the concept of instigation and partly by the above-mentioned aide et assistance;
  • The defendant may elect a bench trial before a single judge or plead guilty.

Congress has also chosen to punish certain conduct, codifying federal criminal law in Title 18 of the U. Criminal laws vary significantly among the states and the federal government. These statutes usually prescribe a maximum sentence appropriate for a convicted individual.

Elements of a Crime An individual commits a crime if he or she acts in a way that fulfills every element of an offense. The statute establishing the offense also establishes the elements of the offense. In a criminal prosecution, the government has the burden of proof to establish every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. According to the Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, 575 U. Code is far more extensive than the common law.

Nonetheless, Congress has limited power to make criminal laws. As this power is generally reserved to the states, state criminal codes, such as the New York Penal Laware far more complicated than the U. Penal Law prescribes nine levels of felonies, ranging from residential mortgage fraud in the the crimes in the criminal law of the united states degree to terrorism.

Sentencing Guidelines The federal government and state governments have created various sentencing guidelines. Liability for Accomplices When multiple parties are involved, the traditional first step is to classify the participants according to the following categories: Principal in the first degree — those who actually commit a crime i. Perpetrators are not accomplices and this section does not pertain to them.

Principal in the second degree — those who aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged the perpetrator in the actual commission of a crime. An abettor is considered an accomplice. Accessory before the fact — those who aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged the perpetrator to commit the crime, without actually being present at the moment of perpetration. An accessory before the fact is considered an accomplice. Accessories after the fact are guilty of a separate crime, so this section does not pertain to them.

That is, the prosecutor must prove that the accomplice acted in support of the perpetrator, and had the requisite mental state while doing so. It is important to note that some jurisdictions allow accomplices to be prosecuted independently of the principal perpetrator.

Criminal law

Thus, an accomplice could be found guilty of a more severe offense than the principal. Punishing For Status A law cannot punish a person simply for their status. Defenses There are a number of defenses available to a defendant in a criminal prosecution. The following list illustrates some common defenses individuals rely on: Justifications — these are complete defenses Self-Defense: Excuses — these are partial defenses Duress: An individual who was voluntarily intoxicated can plead intoxication as a defense only to crimes that require a specific mental state.