A criminal is anyone who is considered to have committed an offence against someone or someone’s property. This may be theft, damage to property, robbery, violence, murder or any other act that is considered harmful or detrimental to the offended. Criminal conduct is that behavior that is considered constituting to a criminal offence. To prevent and control criminal conduct there is criminal law. This is the law that defines what constitutes to criminal conduct. Criminal law regulates, controls and specifies punishment for criminal conduct. It prescribes acceptable behavior and specifies what is wrong while providing judgment and punishment for offenders.
Judgment and conviction
When a person is accused to have perpetrated an offense against someone they are supposed to face criminal law through a suit. A suit or court hearing will be used to determine whether the accused also known as the defendantis guilty of the offence. If guilty, they are sentenced to a punishment that is deemed suitable for the kind of criminal conduct in question. This is called conviction. However, if the evidence and accusations brought against the defendant are not enough to convict the defendant then they are acquitted of the charges against them.
Criminal law will require the evidence presented against the accused to satisfy two elements for the defendant to be considered guilty. These elements aremens reawhich refers to the psychological element of the crime. This is the mental state or guilty mind element of a crime. The evidence used must completely and undoubtedly prove that the defendant intended or had a motive to do the crime. The other element is actus reus. This is the physical element of the crime. These are the acts and or omissions that comprise the physical element of a crime. (Legal Information Institute, 2015). It proves that the accused was present, failed to do something, did something that amountedto criminal conduct.
In some states, for someone to be convicted of a crime, they must fully satisfy the two elements – must have a guilty mind and there be proof that they committed the act. However, it is not always that a person should be convicted after satisfying both elements. A conviction is veryfeasible if a defendant only satisfies actus reus but does not meet the mens rea element unless the defendant is of questionable competence.Consider this.
Job is accused of causing the death of Jill. Job is a mechanic is a mechanic. Jill brought her car to the shop for repair. It had brake problems. During the repair Job noticed that there was a part that required two bolts to the part to be tight enough. However he had only one which could hold the part but not as tight as recommended. He needed the money but due to time it was not possible to get the bolt which he didn’t have in his shop. He uses one bolt and improvises using a small piece of metal to act as a bolt for the second one. Jill tests the brakes and they are fine. She leaves. Later she is in an accident. After investigations, job is linked with the death. It is confirmed that it resulted from break problems. Failure of the part stated above. Job is sued for the murder of Jill.Job can be convicted for causing the death of Jill even though he had no motive, intention or willingness to kill her. He is guilty of the offence.
Immunity is exemption of a person from prosecution, punishment or penalty or legal obligation to perform actions that others are expected to (Cornel Uni. Law School). Immunity is given to witnesses in exchange for testimony, petty offenders who assist in the arrest of major offenders or people abroad for diplomacy reasons.
Diplomatic Immunity and Legislative Immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a kind of immunity granted to diplomats to protect them from lawsuit and prosecution in the host countries. It allows them safe passage while ensuring that they cannot be brought to court or sentenced to serve time or any form of punishment in that country. They can only be sent back to their countries. Legislative immunity on the other hand is a type of immunity for legislators or members of parliament prevent them from being sued for the actions and decisions they made while they served the government as long as they are criminal in nature. This does not include murder, rape and robbery. It covers the scope of their actions for the places they serve incase suits arise from their actions and decisions.
Diplomatic Immunity is very vital for Americans abroad and especially those serving the government. The criminal and justice structure for many countries differ in many fields. What is legal in one country is illegal in another. It is important that people adopt the laws of the countries they move into especially if they become citizen. However, some laws in some countries are in some way unacceptable especially for Americans. They can be considered outdated.Some cultures in some countries for example Africa are unacceptable and cannot be subjected or used to govern Americans in Africa and some western countries. There is also the issue of racism, tribalism and corruption. Subjecting an American to foreign prosecution is not a good thing for the possibility of unfair conviction is high. For this reason, diplomatic immunity is important for Americans abroad. In case of a case, it is better if an American is brought back to America for a fair hearing.
Competency to stand trial
According to criminal law for a person to be put through prosecution he must be able to understand the purpose and nature of the case against him. He must be able to work with the attorneys defending him understanding the charges against him and the penalty should he be found guilty. This means he has to have the capability to plan a case, remember, explain and specify his motives and actions. He should also be able to defend himself while answering questions raised by the accusing counsel (Psycholegal Assesments Inc).
For a case and its judgment to be fair it is vital that the defendant be of unquestionable competence. He should be mentally fit. He should be able to defend himself during time of trial and preparation for trial. A person who commits a crime and is later found not to have been in a healthy mental state should not be put through the standard trial. This is because he or she was not aware of what he was putting himself into. He or she had no idea if what he or she was doing was wrong. Such a person cannot know or understand criminal law, the law of his country and therefore he or she might not be aware of what is legal or illegal in the country. Some crimes may not be intentional and even if they meet the actus reus element they don’t satisfy mens rea. A hungry mad man passes a place where a wedding was been held. The people were wining and dining. Seeing this,the hungry man rushed in and starting helping himself with the meals. Of course, without an invitation the security tried to drag the man out. Hunger fangs couldn’t let him go so he fought back causing disturbance and destruction to property. He was sued but upon his arrest the man could neither tell his name, remember the incident or be able to cooperate with the officers. Such a case is hard to handle. It is hectic, time consuming and the defendant isn’t aware he did something wrong and neither can he be able to cooperate for trial. He cannot be given a standard trial proceeding.
The goals of criminal law and their effectiveness
The main aim of criminal law is protecting the public. It is designed to ensure that the citizens and their properties are safe at all time. Criminal law has these goals in its work;
Criminal law will provide guidelines, rules and regulations that should be followed for a person to be considered law abiding. It will specify what is considered legal and what is illegal. It will educate the public on how to and how not no to do things. Criminal law oversee the investigation arrest and prosecution of people considered as offenders. It will have departments that will be distributed and charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace and order which includes fighting crime.
Supporting crime victims, families and witnesses
When a person has becomes a victim of crime there are laws that are meant to see his protection. The victims has to be given medical support if need be. His family and himself have to be protected if the perpetrators of the crime are at large and considered threat to them. Other laws provide that the witnesses be protected from influence and dangers that may come from the offenders.
Fair prosecution and holding of offenders
The laws also provide guidelines that must be followed to ensure a defendant gets a fair trial. For example, they are provided a lawyer if they cannot afford one. It is also made sure that they are given time to defend themselves and must be proven to be of competent state for them to be taken through trial and conviction. For a offender to be convicted evidence must be presented that proves guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This ensures fair conviction.
Rehabilitation of offenders
Criminal laws are for all. This including the offenders. The law is supposed to protect the public which includes the offender. For this reason, the law also provides for some ways of rehabilitating and changing and returning offenders back to the community as law abiding citizens. They have rehabilitation programs. Others will help offenders get jobs in the community. They have also provided education to the community to ensure they see ex convicts as changed people.
Every country needs criminal law. Without criminal law, the public is at risk and there is no way there can be good relationship and interdependence in a state or country.Selfishness, greed, laziness, and immorality are everywhere. A state cannot have peace if these vices are out there. For these reason criminal law is a must have.