Examples of Criminal Law 

Examples of criminal law are laws that deal with murder, assault, theft, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Criminal law deals with behavior and actions against an individual, the public, society or the state. Crimes are often referred to as crimes against the state because in this context, the term state is referring to the government and can be a crime against the state government or a state government official or building, but it does not have to be.

Criminal Law Compared to Civil Law

Criminal law is different from civil law in that civil law deals with behavior that constitutes an injury to an individual or other private party, such as a corporation or business. Criminal cases are always initiated by the government, often by law enforcement or other local and state agencies, or the federal government, and almost always seek to convict the defendant of a crime with the penalty of incarceration, and in some situations fines and other penalties such as losing a license or security clearances, to name just a few. A civil case can be initiated by any party that is seeking reparations for damages the defendant or defendants caused.

Criminal Cases

Criminal cases can be tried in front of a judge or in front of a judge and a jury where the jury decides the outcome of the case based the presentations of the two sides and on instructions from the judge. Criminal jury trials are more common than criminal bench trials where only a judge hears and decides the outcome of a case and to secure conviction, the prosecution must establish the defendant’s guilt, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” with the jury in unanimous agreement. In criminal cases, if a defendant does not have enough money to hire a lawyer, they will typically be given the option of being assigned a public defense attorney (P.D.) that is paid for by the state at no charge to them.

One Act Can Equal Two Different Cases

A single, wrongful act may constitute both a public offense, a crime, and a private injury of the kind that warrants both criminal and civil charges. An example of this is if someone is charged with a DUI or DWI, they may still be subject to a civil lawsuit if they have injured people or caused property damage. It does not matter whether or not the person is convicted in their criminal case for a victim of their negligence in driving while under the influence (even for prescription and over the counter medicines) to be eligible to sue the driver who caused their injuries. The outcomes of the two different cases should have no bearing or influence on one another but typically, if someone is charged with a crime, their criminal case will be tried before the plaintiff in a civil case is allowed to move forward.

Learn about criminal law with Trapp Law Firm.