Chapter 3 examines the criminal law and reviews the establishment of criminal responsibility and criminal defense.

Topic: The Development of Law

  • The criminal law as a form of social control occupies one end of a continuum: folkways gmores gnorms g
  • The criminal justice system is governed by the criminal law, which developed in a sporadic and uneven fashion.
  • The criminal law is influenced by the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1780 B.C.E.), the first known set of written laws.
  • The four sources of law are common law, constitutions, statutes, and administrative rules.

Topic: Common Law

  • The early North American colonies adopted the principles of English common law which called for cases to be decided on precedent.
  • Four issues guide precedent: predictability, reliability, efficiency, and equality.
  • Instead of being expressly specified by a constitution or a legislature, the common law is based on judicial decisions.
  • Common Law is sometimes called case law, judiciary law, judge-made law, customary law, or unwritten law.

Topic: Criminal Law

  • The criminal law represents the state against individuals.
  • The Bill of Rights is an especially important cornerstone of the criminal law.
  • Substantive laws proscribing murder, rape, robbery, and the like originate from statutes provided by Congress and state legislatures.
  • Three criteria determine what behaviors are criminal: legal enforceability, legal effects, and the existence of other means to protect society from undesirable   

Topic: Administrative Rules, Procedural Law, and Civil Law

  • A number of agencies that govern health, customs, the environment, and parole promulgate administrative rules that are enforceable by the criminal law.
  • Procedural law controls how criminal justice system officials enforce substantive law.
  • Civil law is concerned with disputes between individuals. It deals with contracts, personal property, maritime law, and commercial law.

Topic: Classifications of Crime

  • Crime can be classified into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and inchoate offenses.
  • Felonies, the most serious types of criminal offense, include murder, rape, assault, larceny, arson, and other offenses at the state and federal level.
  • Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and are subject to less severe
  • An offense may be categorized as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.
  • Inchoate offenses are offenses that do not have to be completed in order for a suspect to be arrested, charged, and punished.