Purpose of Criminal Law

Criminal law is the upper cover or supporting body of the rules and regulation related to crime. The basic aim or purpose of the criminal laws is justice. Criminal laws are there to keep the society safe and harm-free so that people couldn’t hurt or harm each other in any sense. Criminal laws are the codes of conduct and the standards that all the residents are accountable for. After a criminal act, one will be punished or is charged for the criminal act being practiced. The criminal punishment is in the form of jail or sometimes fine. Everything around us has a purpose, so does the criminal laws. The purpose is not so much to do with the betterment of economy but can be associated with the social welfare; justice.

The purpose of criminal laws is given as:

Traditional Law System:

The criminal justice system is based on the traditional law system. In the books of these systems, crime is considered to be morally wrong and thus punishment is given to the criminal as compensation to the victim.
Some of the legislations of American state developed the laws where the victim will write the punishment and decide on the compensation instead of orders of court or the judges.

In Order to Protect the Victim:

There are always two side of every crime, one is the victim and the other is the criminal or the culprit who has committed the crime. The one who has been offended, the victim, wants revenge from the criminal in any case. On the other hand, the criminal wants to run away and wanted to be forgiven in any case. But it will be the injustice to the offender.

The state or the courts develop criminal laws and code of conducts in order to protect the victim from any harm in the future. We get to see the culprit getting behind the bars in our routine lives, sometimes the source of the news is newspaper, the Sunday magazine or the Internet by this is the only type of punishment we know about the crimes.

In more advanced societies, there are more sophisticated punishments. It is necessary to consider the three options regarding punishments:

  • Executive Control
  • Criminal Punishment

In the case of private self-help and the executive control, they reduce the procedural safeguards against safety and mistakes.
At the end of the situation, we are left behind the third option that is criminal punishment. On the other hand, punishment is not always proportionate to the crime.

The main question is whether the principle of proportionality is to restrict other purposes of the criminal law, in particular, protection of the public. The criminal laws are indeed designed to protect the victims against the culprit.

In Order to Protect the Community:

Society must have the power to protect themselves against any kind of violence or harm and from those who are dangerous for them and the wrong-does. Well, society has the power to protect themselves from those who try to harm them by means of five options:

    • Deterrence: Deterrence is being divided into two forms; special and general deterrence. Special deterrence is a sentence that has been designed to keep the offender away from the future wrong-doings. It has been specially personalized for the particular offender. While the general deterrence means teaching by actions. To elaborate the general deterrence, it is to be kept in mind that we can teach others not to move on the wrong track or not to touch the wrong acts by setting examples from the special deterrence. The law is asked to find justifications and real life scenarios to keep the wrong-doers away from future wrong acts.There’s something to be cleared on our stance that punishment appreciating violence will not be committed and none of the deterrence will have violent incidents or such acts to make others learn.
    • Incapacitation: It should be taken into account that incapacitation or prevention should be reserved for those who are dangerous and serious offenders. Society must protect itself against the offenders even if they don’t get to protect themselves. Since a long period of custody will make the wrong-doers realize about the mistakes they have been making thus there wouldn’t be much of a penalty to be charged on the offenders. There is an intense need of a technique that can afford the appropriate measure of the control while insulting the predicted wrong-doer in order to make him or her in capable of respecting the criminal laws. It is pretty clear that there shouldn’t be any penalty or a minor penalty that harms the society lesser and those who are proved to be really dangerous for the society should be punished.
    • Rehabilitation or Reform: The society can also protect itself against the offenders by reforming the offenders. In this manner, individuals who tries to violate criminal laws receives punishment or penalty but also learns how to avoid bad behavior and work towards the betterment of the society by being a good citizen. In many ways, this method is known to be one of the effective methods as it not only rehab the offenders but also directs the society to move towards positivity. It is the most enlightened purpose of criminal laws. Unlike the method of incapacitation, rehabilitation seemed not to be that successful when practiced and secondly, rehabilitation may require much longer periods of time than that of control that is incapacitation.
    • Denunciation: Denunciation is a sentence that is aimed in order to express society’s abhorrence of the crime committed. This sentence can’t work without being aimed with other sentences such as retribution and deterrence. It would be better to rate denunciation as a harm to other sentences instead of being a justification to it.
    • Restoration: The purpose of this sentence is to pay greater attention on the victim instead of the offenders where the offender has to pay for the harm they have inflicted on the society and the victim.I would like to conclude this in such a way that the criminal laws, more or less, aims to protect the community from the offenders and the wrong-doers.

Punishment of the Offender

The most important purpose of the criminal laws is the punishment of the offender who tends to harm others and encourage others to commit a wrong act. In the case of giving punishments, there is always a race between the utilitarian and retributivists. By giving punishments to the criminals, the state tends to discourage people from doing the wrong acts at any cost. Usually, the criminal punishments range from a short fine to community services or to the penalty of being hanged till death. Well, it varies from case to case and law to law.

Some of the courts give the culprit the punishment in the form of a fine depending on the case and the situation of the victim and his/her demands and injuries or damages. While, in some cases the culprit is given the punishment for longer periods of time where he surrenders himself and works for the community under the supervision of the police and rehabilitation centers. Rehabilitation centers, as discussed earlier, not only clean the society up from the dangerous or harmful individuals but also try to develop the motivation towards positivity in life while discouraging the wrong acts they have been doing in their past.

Truly, the purpose of criminal laws is at the end giving punishment to the culprit or the offenders in order to discourage others from wrong doings.
As the suggested purposes seem to have a vibe of positivity, the other certain factors can’t be neglected that are there because of the existence of criminal laws. Because of the criminal laws, people were restrained from the wrong doings, some of them are also encouraged towards it.

What I meant here is self-confidence or should I name is over-confidence. People having over-confidence about their existence or themselves usually get to indulge in such kind of actions which makes them motivated towards immoral acts. Their very self-actualization has been encouraged by the wrong means. They start perceiving themselves better than others.

Instead of having strict criminal laws, the state should have some standards of behavior that should be followed by every single citizen. And with the violation of those standards of conduct and behavior, there should be a penalty that will make people aware of the dos and don’ts.

In the end, these standards of behavior will effectively elaborate the purpose of criminal laws stated as protection of victim, rehabilitation of the offender as a source of protecting the society and the punishment to be inflicted on the offender for committing the crime and damaging the property of others.


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