Criminal Law

Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. In a criminal case, the state or prosecutor, brings the suit. People convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both.

A "crime" is any act or omission  in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it (Criminal Law). Though there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws differ greatly from state to state.

Crimes include both felonies and misdeanors. Felonies are crimes punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than a year. However, no act is a crime if it has not been previously established as such either by statute or common law.

 Most crimes consist of two elements: an act, or "actus reus," and a mental state, or "mens rea". Prosecutors have to prove each and every element of the crime to yield a conviction. Furthermore, the prosecutor must persuade the jury or judge "beyond a reasonable doubt" of every fact necessary to the crime charged.

Criminal law. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from