Criminal law is different from civil law as it as it covers crimes that are against the public as a whole. For example, while murder is against a specific individual, it is also against the general public interests, unlike the failure to pay a debt, which would be between two individuals and thus a civil law problem. Criminal law punishes not only the act of breaking the law, but also conspiracies and intentions to do so. There are various different classifications within criminal law, there are crimes against a person which includes violence or rape, crime against property, which covers theft and arson and crimes against public rights which covers offences against the public order. There are also fatal offences which cover any offences that result in an unlawful death, this includes manslaughter and murder.
The main objective of criminal law is to deter people from committing crimes and to punish them when they do, this is known as retribution. Incapacitation is another objective of criminal law, which involves keeping a criminal sperate from law abiding members of the public who may be at risk from being in contact with them. This is achieved through prison sentences. Once in prison, the goal in criminal law is to rehabilitate the criminals into being law abiding citizens. Those who commit a crime have the right to have a legal professional defend them. Their lawyer may work to get a lesser sentence for the crimes that have been committed or to try to acquit the person charged altogether.
Different courts deal with different crimes. This will usually be judged by the severity of the crime. Magistrate’s courts are usually the courts in which criminal offenders will first get tried. The magistrates will try the offender for less serious crimes. For more serious offences, the offender will be referred to a crown court. Crown courts deal with the most serious crimes and they are presided over by high court judges. For people under the age of 18, there are youth courts which have strict regulations on media coverage. If a person is convicted of a crime, they will have the right to appeal against their conviction.