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Why Study Criminal Law? What Will You Learn and What Can You Do With Your Degree?

Criminal law is the field of law that relates to crime. So, it focuses on getting justice for people who were threatened, harmed, or endangered by the actions of others.


If someone’s actions brought about harm to the health, safety, moral welfare, or property of another individual, criminal law sees to it that the appropriate punishment or rehabilitation measures are meted out to the offending party.


Civil law is similar to criminal law in the sense that it attempts to get justice for someone who was harmed by another's action. The difference comes in when we look at what redress an injured party can receive. Civil law focuses on dispute resolution and victim compensation. Criminal law focuses on the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders.


What is the objective of criminal law?


Criminal law seeks to ensure that those who fail to abide by the law face consequences or sanctions. There are five objectives of criminal law.


Retribution – meaning that the criminals need to be punished for taking advantage of or harming others.


Deterrence – criminal laws impose sanctions for certain harmful actions. These sanctions are meant to deter or discourage people from engaging in criminal activities.


Incapacitation – this seeks to keep criminals away from the general population and protect others from their misconduct. This is usually the point behind prison sentences.


Rehabilitation – criminal laws, through sanctions and even prison terms, aims to transform a criminal into a valuable member of society. The idea is to convince an offender that what they did was wrong and deter them from doing it again.


Restoration – victims should be given some compensation or care to allow them to recover from the harm inflicted on them.



What are some of the offenses tackled by criminal law?


1. Murder


It is referred as an unlawful killing. For a killing to be considered murder there needs to be proof of malice or intent.


2. Manslaughter


This is a killing where there was an absence of malice. If the killer was provoked or is proven to be of diminished capacity, it is manslaughter, not murder. There is also involuntary manslaughter when the killing was accidental or came about because the killer was acting recklessly but without malice.


3. Assault


This is defined as the act of inflicting physical harm or even unwanted contact with another person. Depending on where you are, the penalty for assault can vary in their severity. Again, depending on the legal system of the area, assault can sometimes be defined as “battery” or be a separate offense.


4. Battery


Battery as a criminal offense usually involved unlawful physical contact. If the legal system considers battery a separate offense from assault, then assault is usually defined as the act of making someone fearful of physical contact.


5. Rape


This is non-consensual intercourse and can sometimes be considered a form of battery as it involves unlawful physical contact.


6. Property damage


This is the act of causing damage to property either through deliberate actions or negligence.


7. Trespass


The study and practice of criminal law recognize three types of trespass: trespass to person, trespass to chattels, and trespass to land.


Trespass to person includes the crimes of assault, battery, and false imprisonment. Trespass to chattel or goods involve the unauthorized use of someone’s property, while trespass to land involves unauthorized entry onto someone else’s land.


8. Theft


This involves taking someone else’s property without permission and consent.


9. Robbery


This is theft utilizing force. So there is an element of assault or battery because in the act of taking someone's property you either threatened them or physically harmed them.


10. Extortion


When you obtain something from someone else through coercion, this is extortion. The person did not give their property up to you willingly, but because you threatened them in some way.


11. Burglary


When illegally enter a building or other private area with the intent to take away someone else's property.


12. Fraud


This is when you intentionally deceive someone for monetary gain or to secure some sort of benefit for yourself. By committing fraud, you gain something by depriving your victim of their legal rights – including their right to possess property.


Why Study Criminal Law: Career Path Available


If you want to make a career out of criminal law, you need to study it. The study of criminal defense attorney usually requires a bachelor's degree. It is studied at the graduate level.


The most common path for someone who has studied criminal law to take is that of a criminal lawyer and maybe become a partner in a law firm that handles these types of cases. There is also a good chance that you could become a judge by building a career in criminal law.


Having a degree in criminal law can also allow you to pursue a career in law enforcement, as a police officer or a probation officer. You can also become a social worker or a non-profit worker who works to gain compensation or help for victims and rehabilitation for criminals.


Having a degree in criminal law can also come in handy if you want to pursue a career in journalism. You can specialize in covering crimes.


Any job that would need you to be aware of the specific legal ramifications of criminal acts is open to you if you study criminal law.


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