Noun: legal system that deals with the punishment of those who commit crimes. The function of criminal law is to punish Criminal law, unlike civil law, is a system of laws that deals with crimes and with the punishment of people who commit crimes. Therefore, when in a civil case two parties dispute their rights, criminal proceedings involve the government deciding whether to punish a person for an act or an omission. Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime.
It prescribes behaviors perceived as threatening, harmful, or endangering people's property, health, safety, and moral well-being, including oneself. Most criminal laws are established by law, which means that laws are enacted by a legislature. Criminal law includes the punishment and rehabilitation of people who violate such laws. While criminal law and civil law were designed to address different crimes, they share similarities and sometimes fall in the middle.
There are many different areas of criminal and civil law, and a variety of lawyers working in these areas. As you embark on your studies, one of the first things you study is understanding the difference between criminal and civil law. That disconnecting life support from a person in a persistent vegetative state is an omission and not a crime. Criminal and civil sentences are not mutually exclusive, and were specifically designed to be that way.
If you have been accused of committing a crime, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer who can help you understand and protect your rights and develop a strong defense for your case. The general processes are different, as is the way in which they are ultimately found guilty (criminal court) or responsible (civil court). While criminal law was designed to protect the welfare of the state from actions considered threatening or harmful to its general security, civil law focuses on private relationships between members of a given community or society. Because this power is generally reserved to the states, state criminal codes, such as New York Criminal Law, are much more complicated than those in the United States.
The judiciary interprets how laws and rules of procedure are applied in a criminal case, as well as whether these laws violate constitutional limits. Many laws are enforced through the threat of criminal punishment, and the scope of punishment varies by jurisdiction. Courts interpret how statutes and rules of procedure apply in a criminal case, as well as whether these laws violate constitutional limits. For more information on criminal law, see this article from the Florida State University Law Review article, and the Boston College Journal of International and Comparative Law article.
Criminal law varies by jurisdiction; for example, in some states of the United States, some crimes are considered more serious than others. For example, a breach of contract primarily affects the parties to the contract (and is a civil action), but criminal acts such as murder, driving under the influence of alcohol, or theft cause injuries and harm to individual victims, as well as to society. Criminal charges or a conviction can result in prison sentences and fines, while a civil lawsuit usually involves the payment of monetary compensation or changes in the legal status of one of the parties (such as divorce or parental rights), but not imprisonment.