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Criminal law is the body of
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
that relates to
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, defi ...

crime
. It prescribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , , , , , , or ...
,
health Health, according to the , is "a state of complete physical, and social and not merely the absence of and ".. (2006)''Constitution of the World Health Organization''– ''Basic Documents'', Forty-fifth edition, Supplement, October 2006. A var ...

health
,
safety Safety is the state of being "safe", the condition of being protected from harm Harm is a moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages ...

safety
, and moral welfare of people inclusive of one's self. Most criminal law is established by
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
, which is to say that the laws are enacted by a
legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure i ...
. Criminal law includes the
punishment Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an —in contexts ranging from to —as a response and deterrent to a particular action or that is deemed undesirable or unacceptab ...

punishment
and
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
of people who violate such laws. Criminal law varies according to
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
, and differs from
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, where emphasis is more on dispute resolution and victim compensation, rather than on
punishment Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an —in contexts ranging from to —as a response and deterrent to a particular action or that is deemed undesirable or unacceptab ...

punishment
or
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
. Criminal procedure is a formalized official activity that authenticates the fact of commission of a crime and authorizes punitive or rehabilitative treatment of the
offender In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper) ...
.


History

The first civilizations generally did not distinguish between
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
and criminal law. The first written codes of law were designed by the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", ifrom ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Literally, "land of the native (local, noble) lor ...

Sumer
ians. Around 2100–2050 BC
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian language, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology, or possibly c. 2048–2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following s ...
, the Neo-Sumerian king of
Ur
Ur
, enacted written legal code whose text has been discovered: the ''
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time t ...
'' although an earlier code of
Urukagina Uru-ka-gina, Uru-inim-gina, or Iri-ka-gina ( sux, ; 24th century BC, middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts c ...
of
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowe ...

Lagash
( 2380–2360 BC ) is also known to have existed. Another important early code was the
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...
, which formed the core of Babylonian law. Only fragments of the early criminal laws of
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
have survived, e.g. those of
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων ''Sólōn'' ;  BC) was an Archaic Greece#Athens, Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, e ...

Solon
and
Draco DRACO (double-stranded RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning t ...
. In
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
,
Gaius Gaius, sometimes spelled ''Gajus'', Cajus, Caius, was a common Latin praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a given name, personal name chosen by the parents of a Ancient Rome, Roman child. It was first bestowed on the ''dies lustri ...
's ''Commentaries on the
Twelve Tables The ''Law of the Twelve tables'' ( la, Leges Duodecim Tabularum or ) was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand y ...
'' also conflated the civil and criminal aspects, treating theft (''
furtum ''Furtum'' was a delict Delict (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through th ...
'') as a
tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

tort
. Assault and violent
robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

robbery
were analogized to
trespass Trespass is an area of criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, ...

trespass
as to property. Breach of such laws created an obligation of law or ''vinculum juris'' discharged by payment of monetary compensation or
damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictionary used ...
. The criminal law of
imperial Rome The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...
is collected in Books 47–48 of the
Digest Digest may refer to: In biology: *Digestion of food *Restriction digest In literature or publication: *''The Digest'', formerly the English and Empire Digest *Digest size magazine format *Digest (Roman law), ''Digest'' (Roman law), also known as ...
. After the revival of Roman law in the 12th century, sixth-century Roman classifications and jurisprudence provided the foundations of the distinction between criminal and civil law in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
an law from then until the present time. The first signs of the modern distinction between crimes and civil matters emerged during the
Norman Invasion The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to ...

Norman Invasion
of England. The special notion of criminal penalty, at least concerning Europe, arose in Spanish Late Scholasticism (see
Alfonso de Castro
Alfonso de Castro
), when the theological notion of God's penalty (poena aeterna) that was inflicted solely for a guilty mind, became transfused into canon law first and, finally, to secular criminal law. The development of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
dispensing
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

justice
in a court clearly emerged in the eighteenth century when European countries began maintaining police services. From this point, criminal law formalized the mechanisms for enforcement, which allowed for its development as a discernible entity.


Objectives of criminal law

Criminal law is distinctive for the uniquely serious, potential consequences or sanctions for failure to abide by its rules. Every crime is composed of criminal elements.
Capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

Capital punishment
may be imposed in some jurisdictions for the most serious crimes. Physical or
corporal punishment A corporal punishment or a physical punishment is a punishment which is intended to cause physical pain to a person. When it is inflicted on Minor (law), minors, especially in home and school settings, its methods may include spanking or Padd ...
may be imposed such as
whipping Flagellation (Latin ''flagellum'', "whip"), flogging, whipping or lashing is the act of beating the human body with special implements such as whips, wikt:lash, lashes, Birching, rods, Switch (rod), switches, the cat o' nine tails, the sjam ...
or
caning Caning is a form of corporal punishment A corporal punishment or a physical punishment is a punishment The old village stocks in Chapeltown, Lancashire, England Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or suffering, ...

caning
, although these punishments are prohibited in much of the world. Individuals may be
incarcerated A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens, nationality, nationals and individuals associated with the country of Australia. Between 1788 ...
in
prison A prison, also known as a jail or gaol (dated, English language in England, standard English, Australian English, Australian, and Huron Historic Gaol, historically in Canada), penitentiary (American English and Canadian English), detention ...

prison
or
jail A prison, also known as a jail or gaol (dated, standard English In an English-speaking country This article is intended to provide details and data regarding the geographical distribution of all English speakers, regardless of the legisla ...
in a variety of conditions depending on the jurisdiction. Confinement may be solitary. Length of incarceration may vary from a day to life. Government supervision may be imposed, including
house arrest In justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, Palazzo Altemps, Rome Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle t ...
, and convicts may be required to conform to particularized guidelines as part of a
parole Parole is the early release of a prisoner who agrees to abide by certain conditions, originating from the French word ''parole'' ("speech, spoken words" but also "promise"). The term became associated during the Middle Ages with the release of ...

parole
or
probation Probation in criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...
regimen. Fines also may be imposed, seizing money or property from a person convicted of a crime. Five objectives are widely accepted for enforcement of the criminal law by
punishments , England Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or suffering, unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority—in contexts ranging from child discipline to criminal law—as a response and deterrent to ...
:
retribution Retribution may refer to: * Punishment * Retributive justice, a theory of justice ** Divine retribution, retributive justice in a religious context * Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance Film and televisi ...
, deterrence, incapacitation,
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
and
restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
. Jurisdictions differ on the value to be placed on each. *
Retribution Retribution may refer to: * Punishment * Retributive justice, a theory of justice ** Divine retribution, retributive justice in a religious context * Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance Film and televisi ...
– Criminals ought to ''Be Punished'' in some way. This is the most widely seen goal. Criminals have taken improper advantage, or inflicted unfair detriment, upon others and consequently, the criminal law will put criminals at some unpleasant disadvantage to "balance the scales." People submit to the law to receive the right not to be murdered and if people contravene these laws, they surrender the rights granted to them by the law. Thus, one who murders may be executed himself. A related theory includes the idea of "righting the balance." * Deterrence – ''Individual'' deterrence is aimed toward the specific offender. The aim is to impose a sufficient penalty to discourage the offender from criminal behavior. ''General'' deterrence aims at society at large. By imposing a penalty on those who commit offenses, other individuals are discouraged from committing those offenses. * Incapacitation – Designed simply to keep criminals ''away'' from society so that the public is protected from their misconduct. This is often achieved through
prison A prison, also known as a jail or gaol (dated, English language in England, standard English, Australian English, Australian, and Huron Historic Gaol, historically in Canada), penitentiary (American English and Canadian English), detention ...

prison
sentences today. The
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

death penalty
or
banishment Image:Dante exile.jpg, ''Dante in Exile'' by To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village, town, city, State (polity), state, province, territory or even country) and unable to return. People (or corporations and even go ...
have served the same purpose. *
Rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
– Aims at transforming an offender into a valuable member of society. Its primary goal is to prevent further offense by convincing the offender that their conduct was wrong. *
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
– This is a victim-oriented theory of punishment. The goal is to repair, through state authority, any injury inflicted upon the victim by the offender. For example, one who
embezzle Embezzlement is the act of withholding asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produc ...
s will be required to repay the amount improperly acquired. Restoration is commonly combined with other main goals of
criminal justice 350px, United States criminal justice system flowchart Criminal justice is the delivery of justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Ma ...
and is closely related to concepts in the
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, i.e., returning the victim to his or her original position before the injury.


Selected criminal laws

Many laws are enforced by threat of
criminal punishment , England Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or suffering, unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviou ...
, and the range of the punishment varies with the jurisdiction. The scope of criminal law is too vast to catalog intelligently. Nevertheless, the following are some of the more typical aspects of criminal law.


Elements

The criminal law generally prohibits undesirable ''acts''. Thus, proof of a crime requires proof of some act. Scholars label this the requirement of an
actus reus ''Actus reus'' (), sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoke ...
or ''guilty act''. Some crimes – particularly modern regulatory offenses – require no more, and they are known as
strict liability In criminal law, criminal and Civil law (common law), civil law, strict liability is a standard of Public liability, liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of Tort, ...
offenses (E.g. Under the ''Road traffic Act 1988'' it is a strict liability offence to drive a vehicle with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit). Nevertheless, because of the potentially severe consequences of criminal conviction, judges at
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
also sought proof of an ''intent'' to do some bad thing, the
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law LatinLaw Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In everyd ...
or ''guilty mind''. As to crimes of which both ''actus reus'' and ''mens rea'' are requirements, judges have concluded that the elements must be present at precisely the same moment and it is not enough that they occurred sequentially at different times.


Actus reus

''Actus reus'' is
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
for "guilty act" and is the physical element of committing a crime. It may be accomplished by an action, by threat of action, or exceptionally, by an omission to act, which is a legal duty to act. For example, the act of ''A'' striking ''B'' might suffice, or a parent's failure to give food to a young child also may provide the actus reus for a crime. Where the actus reus is a ''failure'' to act, there must be a ''duty of care''. A duty can arise through
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
, a voluntary undertaking, a blood relation with whom one lives, and occasionally through one's official position. Duty also can arise from one's own creation of a dangerous situation. On the other hand, it was held in the U.K. that switching off the life support of someone in a
persistent vegetative state A persistent vegetative state (PVS) or post-coma unresponsiveness (PCU) is a disorder of consciousness Disorders of consciousness are medical conditions that inhibit consciousness , an English Paracelsian physician Consciousness, at its sim ...
is an omission to act and not criminal. Since discontinuation of power is not a voluntary act, not grossly negligent, and is in the patient's best interests, no crime takes place. In this case it was held that since a PVS patient could not give or withhold consent to medical treatment, it was for the doctors to decide whether treatment was in the patient's best interest. It was reasonable for them to conclude that treatment was not in the patient's best interest, and should therefore be stopped, when there was no prospect of improvement. It was never lawful to take active steps to cause or accelerate death, although in certain circumstances it was lawful to withhold life sustaining treatment, including feeding, without which the patient would die. An actus reus may be nullified by an absence of causation. For example, a crime involves harm to a person, the person's action must be the '' but for'' cause and ''
proximate cause In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its b ...
'' of the harm. If more than one cause exists (e.g. harm comes at the hands of more than one culprit) the act must have "more than a slight or trifling link" to the harm. Causation is not broken simply because a victim is particularly vulnerable. This is known as the thin skull rule. However, it may be broken by an intervening act (''novus actus interveniens'') of a third party, the victim's own conduct, or another unpredictable event. A mistake in
medical Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medical
treatment typically will not sever the chain, unless the mistakes are in themselves "so potent in causing death."


Mens rea

''Mens rea'' is another
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
phrase, meaning "guilty mind". This is the mental element of the crime. A guilty mind means an
intention Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action. Having the plan to visit the zoo tomorrow is an example of an intention. The action plan is the ''content'' of the intention while the commitment is the ''at ...
to commit some wrongful act. Intention under criminal law is separate from a person's motive (although motive does not exist in Scots law). A lower threshold of ''mens rea'' is satisfied when a defendant recognizes an act is dangerous but decides to commit it anyway. This is recklessness. It is the mental state of mind of the person at the time the actus reus was committed. For instance, if ''C'' tears a gas meter from a wall to get the money inside, and knows this will let flammable gas escape into a neighbour's house, he could be liable for poisoning. Courts often consider whether the actor did recognize the danger, or alternatively ought to have recognized a risk. Of course, a requirement only that one ''ought'' to have recognized a danger (though he did not) is tantamount to erasing ''intent'' as a requirement. In this way, the importance of
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law LatinLaw Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In everyd ...
has been reduced in some areas of the criminal law but is obviously still an important part in the criminal system. Wrongfulness of intent also may vary the seriousness of an offense and possibly reduce the punishment but this is not always the case. A killing committed with specific intent to kill or with conscious recognition that
death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organi ...

death
or serious bodily harm will result, would be murder, whereas a killing effected by reckless acts lacking such a consciousness could be manslaughter. On the other hand, it matters not who is actually harmed through a defendant's actions. The doctrine of
transferred maliceTransferred intent (or transferred ''mens rea'', or transferred malice, in English law) is a legal doctrine that holds that, when the intention (criminal law), intention to harm one individual inadvertently causes a second person to be hurt instead, ...
means, for instance, that if a man intends to strike a person with his belt, but the belt bounces off and hits another, mens rea is transferred from the intended target to the person who actually was struck. ote: The notion of transferred intent does not exist within Scots' Law. In Scotland, one would not be charged with assault due to transferred intent, but instead assault due to recklessness.


Strict liability

Strict liability can be described as criminal or civil liability notwithstanding the lack of mens rea or intent by the defendant. Not all crimes require specific intent, and the threshold of culpability required may be reduced or demoted. For example, it might be sufficient to show that a defendant acted
negligently
negligently
, rather than intentionally or recklessly. In offenses of
absolute liability Absolute liability is a standard of legal liability found in tort and criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property ...
, other than the prohibited act, it may not be necessary to show the act was intentional. Generally, crimes must include an intentional act, and "intent" is an element that must be proved in order to find a crime occurred. The idea of a "strict liability crime" is an oxymoron. The few exceptions are not truly crimes at all – but are administrative regulations and civil penalties created by statute, such as crimes against the traffic or highway code.


Fatal offenses

A ''murder'', defined broadly, is an unlawful killing. Unlawful killing is probably the act most frequently targeted by the criminal law. In many
jurisdictions Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declaration') is the legal term for the authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. Colloquially it is used to refer to the geographical area (: locati ...
, the crime of murder is divided into various gradations of severity, e.g., murder in the ''first degree'', based on ''intent''. '' Malice'' is a required element of murder. Manslaughter (Culpable Homicide in Scotland) is a lesser variety of killing committed in the absence of ''malice'', brought about by reasonable
provocation Provocation, provoke or provoked may refer to: * Provocation (legal), a type of legal defense in court which claims the "victim" provoked the accused's actions * Agent provocateur, a (generally political) group that tries to goad a desired resp ...
, or
diminished capacity ''Diminished Capacity'' is a 2008 comedy film directed by Terry Kinney Terry Kinney (born January 29, 1954) is an American actor and theatre director, and is a founding member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, with John Malkovich, Laurie Me ...
. ''Involuntary'' manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent, recklessness. Settled insanity is a possible defense.


Personal offenses

Many criminal codes protect the physical integrity of the body. The crime of battery (crime), battery is traditionally understood as an unlawful touching, although this does not include everyday knocks and jolts to which people silently consent as the result of presence in a crowd. Creating a fear of imminent battery is an assault, and also may give rise to criminal liability. Non-consensual sexual intercourse, intercourse, or rape, is a particularly egregious form of battery.


Property offenses

Property often is protected by the criminal law. Trespassing is unlawful entry onto the real property of another. Many criminal codes provide penalties for Criminal conversion, conversion, embezzlement, theft, all of which involve deprivations of the value of the property. Robbery is a theft by force. Fraud in the UK is a breach of the Fraud Act 2006 by false representation, by failure to disclose information or by abuse of position.


Participatory offenses

Some criminal codes criminalize association with a criminal venture or involvement in criminality that does not actually come to fruition. Some examples are aiding, abetting, Conspiracy (crime), conspiracy, and attempt. However, in Scotland, the English concept of Aiding and Abetting is known as Art and Part Liability. See Glanville Williams, Textbook of Criminal Law, (London: Stevens & Sons, 1983); Glanville Williams, Criminal Law the General Part (London: Stevens & Sons, 1961).


Mala in se v. mala prohibita

While crimes are typically broken into degrees or classes to punish appropriately, all offenses can be divided into 'mala in se' and 'mala prohibita' laws. Both are Latin legal terms, mala in se meaning crimes that are thought to be inherently evil or morally wrong, and thus will be widely regarded as crimes regardless of jurisdiction. Mala in se offenses are felonies, property crimes, immoral acts and corrupt acts by public officials. Mala prohibita, on the other hand, refers to offenses that do not have wrongfulness associated with them. Parking in a restricted area, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, jaywalking or unlicensed fishing are examples of acts that are prohibited by statute, but without which are not considered wrong. Mala prohibita statutes are usually imposed strictly, as there does not need to be mens rea component for punishment under those offenses, just the act itself. For this reason, it can be argued that offenses that are mala prohibita are not really crimes at all.


Defenses


Criminal law jurisdictions

Public international law deals extensively and increasingly with criminal conduct that is heinous and ghastly enough to affect entire societies and regions. The formative source of modern international criminal law was the Nuremberg trials following the Second World War in which the leaders of Nazism were prosecuted for their part in genocide and atrocities across
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
. The Nuremberg trials marked the beginning of criminal fault for individuals, where individuals acting on behalf of a government can be tried for violations of international law without the benefit of sovereign immunity. In 1998 an International criminal court was established in the Rome Statute.


See also

*Administrative law *International law *Legal socialization * Public criminology *Martial law *European Union law


International criminal law

* Crimes against humanity * International criminal law * United States and the International Criminal Court * Universal jurisdiction


National criminal law

* Australian criminal law * Canadian criminal law * Criminal Code of Russia * Penal Code of Romania * Criminal law of Singapore * Criminal law of the United States * English criminal law * Code pénal (France), Penal Code of France * Hong Kong criminal law * Indian criminal law * Irish criminal law * Northern Ireland law#Criminal law, Northern Irish criminal law * Philippine criminal law * Scottish criminal law * Strafgesetzbuch (Switzerland)


References


Citations


Sources

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R v Brown (1994) 1 AC 212


External links


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Theories of Criminal LawFindlaw.com Criminal Law CenterCornell InstituteMax Planck Information System for Comparative Criminal Law
Country reports on criminal law covering 25 legal systems {{DEFAULTSORT:Criminal Law Criminal law,