Criminal Law – Objectives

Criminal law is perhaps most well known because of the effects it can have on a society and on an individual if not respected and followed. The consequences are serious and can range from a few months to few years of jail time, to execution in certain states and territories, to things as harmless as council work and community help rendered (which could actually be hundreds of hours of unpaid work).

In most western countries, physical punishment is never handed out, but some Eastern countries have this as a standard response in their criminal law system. Where jail time is warranted, solitary confinement is an option. The length of the incarceration can vary a lot as aforementioned, and it really depends on a number of factors, such as those bearing on ‘guilty mind’ principles and the extent to which the society has been affected due to the crimes executed. In some countries, life-long imprisonment is not uncommon for serious offenders in the states where the death penalty has been outlawed.

Supervision may be necessary in some instances, and this can be in the form of house supervision (also known as house arrest), with the convicted parties required to conform to certain guidelines as part of parole or probation regimen. Money can be seized and property also. The convicted person or persons have very little say in exactly what is kept and what is taken in by the state of their residence or operation. The enforcement applied by criminal law is categorized in 5 separate groups: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. The value of each of these methods is largely determined by the jurisdiction overseeing the law proceedings.

Retribution is the principle that criminals should suffer in some way. This is the goal that is sought out by state- and victim-appointed barristers and lawyers. When criminals have taken unfair advantage of others and have, with consideration for only themselves, made their victims’ lives worse, then it is only right for they themselves to suffer in one way or another. In some Eastern countries it is literally an eye for an eye, and in the Western world it may not be said in as many words but many cases from the ’90s and ’00s demonstrate the willingness of Western legal systems to follow their Eastern counterparts.

One other form of punishment is incapacitation. This is most commonly achieved by subjecting convicted parties to lengthy jail terms to keep them away from the public so no similar crimes can be rendered by the same party for the term of their incarceration.