Well, my name's Liza, and I'm a twenty-year-old Criminal Justice major. I am studying to become a police officer. Most of the information that I'll be posting will be coming directly from my past and current lessons, so I must first apologize for not really knowing a whole lot just yet.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS UNITED STATES CRIMINAL JUSTICE.
[pokes mistacat] If I may make a suggestion while I'm here ... perhaps we should save the various lessons as memories, so that people can look up every entry on a subject all at once. If you do this, it'd probably be a good idea to make a note of it in the community info.
Anyway ... I'm going to start with some criminal law information from the seventh edition of Criminal Law by Joel Samaha. I hope no one sues me. I'm not making any money from this. [shuffles her papers]
THE NATURE OF CRIMINAL LAW
"Criminal Law is the power of government to ban and punish behavior. In a constitutional democracy, like that of the United States, this power is limited."
We could pause to argue about whether or not the United States is really a "constitutional democracy," but that's a different course.
CRIME, TORT, AND NONLEGAL RESPONSES TO SOCIAL HARMS
"Civil law is most familiar to you in the form of a suit brought by one private party (called a plaintiff) against a defendant (either a person, business, or government) to collect money (called damages)."
"These lawsuits are called torts, personal injury, or product liability cases. Damages are not fines. Damages are compensation paid to individuals for their injuries; fines are penalties paid to the state as criminal punishment. Although tort actions can include punitive damages (damages intended to punish the wrongdoer), their primary purpose is to restore injured persons to the position they enjoyed before defendants injured them."
"Unlike civil law, criminal law considers society to be the injured party. Why? Because crimes not only hurt individuals and their property but they also undermine social security, harmony, and well-being. The government prosecutes criminal defendants to protect the social interest in harmony, order, peace, and security. The titles of criminal cases--State v. Wenz, People v. Twohy, Commonwealth v. McDonald, or United States v. Storlie--denote the societal nature of criminal prosecution."
"The double jeopardy clause in the United States Constitution--'no person shall ... be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb'--does not prohibit tort and criminal actions for the same conduct. Defendants in tort actions do not lose 'life or limb'; they can only lose money."
"Criminal law is society's last resort. To summarize, where something less will do, then something more should not be done."
"Not all bad conduct is criminal, nor should it be. A 'creep' is not necessarily a criminal!"
I just thought that bit was funny :>
"In states with capital punishment, capital felony means the death penalty; in states without the death penalty, it means life in prison without hope of release before death. In the United States, aggravated murder is currently the only capital felony punishable by death."
"The differences between felonies and misdemeanors are the length and place of imprisonment. Felonies are crimes punishable by incarceration of at least one year in state prisons; misdemeanors are punishable by incarceration in local jails for less than one year. Misdemeanors are also punishable by fines. Although there are many differences among the states, gross misdemeanors usually carry maximum penalties of close to one year in jail, misdemeanors are usually punishable in the ninety-day range, and petty misdemeanors result in a jail sentence of up to thirty days. Violations, consisting mainly of traffic offenses punishable by fines, aren't designated criminal convictions in most jurisdictions and they don't become part of your criminal record."
"Another grading scheme divides crime between inherently evil conduct, malum in se, and merely prohibited conduct, malum prohibitum. Murder, rape, robbery, burglary, arson, [and] larceny are malum in se because they would be evil even if the law didn't make them crimes."
Of course, many professors and judges disagree on what crimes are "inherently evil." My Criminal Law teacher last year defined prostitution as malum in se because it can be seen as hurting society. My more liberal Criminology teacher, however, considered it malum prohibitum. This sort of thing is very much open to debate.
I'm out of time for now, but I'll post more later.