Understanding the Objectives of Criminal Law

Los Angeles is governed by different laws that guide its residents on what they should and shouldn’t do. Any violation of the law is punishable and the degree of punishment depends on the extent of the offense. Severe violations of the law that causes serious damages are categorized under criminal offenses. These are weighed by the jury using the guidelines of criminal laws.

Offenses that fall under criminal law are murder, theft, battery, and sexual abuse. Even aiding and abetting, burglary, and assault are considered criminal offenses in Los Angeles and in most part of United States. Criminal offenses are enforced with corporal punishments in different forms and levels.

Criminal law enforcement is commonly done by -balancing the scales-. This is due to the thinking that criminals have to suffer the same way that their victims did. For example, a murderer deserves to undergo death penalty to balance the scales. This enforcement objective is called retribution.

Another enforcement objective is called deterrence, whether individual or general. Individual deterrence aims to punish the sole offender, while general deterrence aims to punish a greater group of society to discourage others from violating the law. A criminal attorney in los angeles may also be handling a case in which the law enforcers aim to incapacitate the client. Incapacitation is the act of extracting the offender from the society through death penalties or life imprisonment.

A criminal attorney in los angeles may also encounter law enforcers who aim only to rehabilitate the offender. This applies to criminal cases brought about by a certain form of addiction of the offender. There is also another form of enforcement objective called restitution where the only aim is to repair the damage done. These may seem like subtle consequences, yet these cases still need the assistance of criminal lawyers.

A criminal attorney in los angeles handles these cases because of his or her expertise in criminal law. Criminal charges are filed in courts and undergo a long process of stressful court proceedings. Once an accused person is proven guilty, enforcement of criminal law is done for different objectives.

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Civil Law vs Criminal Law

When the average layperson thinks about breaking the law, they by default are thinking about criminal law. However, there is also civil law to consider, which has its own set of characteristics. Here are some of the principle differences between civil and criminal law.

Legal Definitions

Criminal Law – In criminal law, the government will file the case. In order to prove their case, the burden of proof is always on the government. They must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty and win a unanimous decision from the jury.

Civil Law – Cases are filed by private parties in civil cases and deal with the disputes between people or organizations where compensation is awarded to the plaintiff. While Federal courts require an unanimous verdict, in most civil case the plaintiff only has to prove that the “preponderance” of the evidence favors them. This can also be referred to in simpler terms as “more likely than not.”

This varies from state to state though. In Missouri, the decision of the jury must be 9-3 for the plaintiff to win. But in Federal courts, the plaintiff must get a unanimous verdict.

Punishment Comparison

A defendant in civil litigation will not be incarcerated and certainly never executed. Losing defendant in civil litigation only reimburses the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant’s behavior. Either party (plaintiff or defendant) can be found at fault.

Criminal Law – The crimes are divided into two basic classes: felonies and misdemeanors. The defendant is found guilty when the jury decides unanimously in favor of the plaintiff. If they are found guilty, the punishment is a fine (paid to the government), imprisonment, or death, in states that allow for the death penalty. The decision is and dry: guilty or not guilty.

Civil Law – There is more flexibility with guilt in a civil case. Both the plaintiff and defendant can be found partially right or partially at fault. Either way, the party found guilty cannot be imprisoned and certainly not put to death. But if they are found guilty, they must pay what’s called punitive damages as determined by the judge.

The Appeals Process

Either party may appeal the decision in a civil case. However, in a criminal case, only the defendant can file an appeal. If the person(s) found guilty want to appeal, they have a limited time to file their appeal.