Criminal Law and Procedure
Criminal Law is a part of the field of Law with a set of rules to define what constitutes a criminal activity and it establishes various types of punishments for the criminal activities and violation of the law. Criminal procedures are the set of rules which define the procedures to apply criminal law from the initial investigation to the judgment of a crime. It clearly establishes all the procedures, for example, basic conditions to arrest a person, procedures to file charges, investigation rules, searching rules, procedures to hold an accused in police custody, when to produce the accused to court, etc.
The important objectives of the Criminal Laws are retribution, individual or general deterrence, incapacitation, restitution and rehabilitation. A crime consists of two parts the mental and the physical part. Most of the crimes have the two main basic elements– Mens Rea and Actus Reus.
Actus Rea, which means “Guilt Act or Wrongful Deed”, is focused on the physical element of a crime which may be committed due to a physical movement like, an action, a threat, etc. When the “Actus Rea” failes, there should be a duty of care. For example, if a patient is in a coma stage and it is the doctors’ decision to proceed or stop the medication which depends on the improvement of his condition. In this circumstance, this action may be a trigger point to the death of a patient, but in certain situations it is accepted by law.
Mens Rea which means “Guilty Mind” is the mental part of the committed crime and it refers to the motive or the intention to commit the crime. Under this, sometimes the motive is not acceptable as an intention to commit a wrong act. For example, Robin Hood’s motive to rob a rich person could not be accepted by law though his good intention was to help the poor. The intent of a crime may be General Intent or a Specific Intent. If the intent was to act and bring a cause or effect, then it is a specific intent. If it was aimed at only on the action then is considered as general intent.
Strict liability crimes such as public offences and the regulatory offences are considered as minor violations of crime. They are applied to civil laws which are punished by simple fines and not imprisonment or incarceration. Some of the common offences governed by criminal laws and procedures are fatal offences like unlawful killing, personal offences like assaults, property offences and participatory offences.