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Chapter 3

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Michigan State University
Criminal Justice
CJ 110

Chapter 3: Criminal Law • Natural Law: Rules of conduct inherent in human natural order which are thought to be knowable through intuition, inspiration, and the exercise of reason, without the need for reference to man-made laws ◦ Something that is known as a law • Laws: ◦ Maintain order ◦ Regulate human interaction ◦ Enforce moral beliefs ◦ Enhance predictability ◦ Support the powerful ◦ Define the economic environment • Laws channel human behavior while they simultaneously constrain it, and they empower individuals while contributing to public order • Mala in se ◦ Evil or wrong in themselves ◦ Example: murder, rape • Mala prohibita ◦ Wrong because the law says its wrong ◦ Example: drinking age • The Development of Law ◦ Code of Hammurabi ◦ Early Roman Law ◦ Common Law ◦ The Magna Carts ◦ The Constitution ◦ Natural Law • The Rule of Law ◦ Acornerstone of our Western way of life: ▪ the rule of law holds that an orderly society must be governed by established principles and known codes that are applied uniformly and fairly in all of its members • Development of Law: modern sources ofAmerican Law ◦ US Constitution ◦ Declaration of Independence ◦ Statues ◦ Case Law-interpretations of different ways to define the law ◦ Common Law • English Common Law: English common law is based on non-statutory customs, traditions and precedents ◦ An unwritten body of early judicial opinion developed by English courts ◦ Originated from usage and custom rather than from written statutes • U.S. Constitution is the final authority in all questions pertaining to the rights of individuals, power of the federal government and the states to create laws. • Types of Laws ◦ Criminal Law ◦ Common Law ◦ Civil Law- dispute between two parties ◦ Administrative Law- ex. Zoning laws ◦ Case Law ◦ Procedural Law- introducing evidence, or obtaining a warrant • Criminal Law: ◦ Crimes injure not just individuals, but society as a whole ◦ Abranch of modern law that concerns itself with offenses committed against society, its members, their property, and the social order ◦ Another term for criminal law is penal law • Civil Law ◦ That branch of modern law that governs relationships between parties ▪ an individual is the plaintiff ▪ a violation of this law is often called a tort ▪ civil law includes breaches of contract, contested will, trusts... ▪ the result is often only loss of money • Administrative Law ◦ Rulings are made by government agencies ◦ This type of law is not usually directed at criminal violations ◦ Regulatory boards are given authority to make rules and to set standards • Procedural Law: The body of rules that regulates the processing of an offender by the criminal justice system ◦ It includes general rules of evidences, search and seizure, and procedures following an arrest • Case Law: the body of judicial precedent that is historically built upon legal reasoning and past interpretations of statutory laws ◦ Case Law serves as a guide to decision making, especially in the courts • Stare Decisis: a legal principle that requires that in subsequent cases on similar issues of law and fact, courts be bound by their own earlier decisions and by those of higher courts having jurisdiction over them. • Categories of Crime: ◦ Felonies ◦ Misdemeanors ◦ offenses ◦ Treason and espionage ◦ Inchoate offenses • Felony: ◦ Serious crime that is punishable by a year or more in prison or by death ◦ Fines may be levied • Misdemeanors: ◦ Less serious than a felony ◦ Usually punishable by up to a year in a county jail (some states allow sentences for misdemeanors of up to two years ◦ Fines can be levied • Inchoate Offenses ◦ An offenses not yet completed ◦ An offense that consists of an action or conduct that is a step toward the intended commission of another offense • Features of crime ◦ Reckless behavior ◦ Criminal Negligence ◦ Strict Liability ◦ Causation ◦ Harm ◦ Legality ◦ Punishment ◦ NecessaryAtte
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