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American Criminal Law & Procedure

The law of the United States has been basically derived from the common law system of the English law. This law was in effect at the time of the revolutionary war. There are four most important sources from which the law has been derived. “These four sources are constitutional law, administrative law, statutory law, and the common law (which includes case law). The most important source of law is the United States Constitution. All other law falls under, and is subordinate to, that document. No law may contradict the Constitution. For example, if Congress enacts a statute that conflicts with the Constitution, the Supreme Court may find that law unconstitutional, and declare it invalid.” (Wikipedia n.a).

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All the states in America started following the British common base but the only state which did not follow this was Louisiana. This exceptional state has always been under the great influence of French Napoleonic Code. There is huge diversity in the laws of the states. The terms used in the context of laws also varies from state to state in the United States of America, for instance states like California, New York and Texas use different subject-specific codes.

Where as on the other hand the rest of the states use something called “Revised Statutes” or “Compiled Statutes.” In some states the judges are at a liberty of interpreting the codes but the same situation can also be overruled in the case of there interpretations being specifically overridden by the legislature. But in other states the judges strictly stick to what is written in the text of the codes.

When it comes to criminal law all states have more or less similar laws, specially in the cases which are regarded as higher crimes, for instance If a murder is committed in Texas and another murder takes place in New York, the verdict on both the cases won’t be different. The accused of the murders will face similar circumstances.

The law is very similar in all states of United States of America when it comes to the higher crimes such as murders, rapes etc. Although the penalty imposed on the accused is likely to vary from state to state. “For public welfare offenses where the state is punishing merely risky (as opposed to injurious) behavior, there is significant diversity across the various states. For example, punishments for drunk driving varied greatly prior to 1990.

State laws dealing with drug crimes still vary widely, with some states treating possession of small amounts of drugs as a misdemeanor offense or as a medical issue and others categorizing the same offense as a serious felony.”(Wikipedia n.a). The law of United States of America can be called a series of innovations and exceptions. The innovations which arose in the country have also been adopted by other countries too. Many countries have taken inspiration from the law of the United States of America and brought in significant changes in their countries law too. This goes to show that the law followed in the United States of America is nearly perfect and with a very few flaws.

Penal law better known as the criminal law in the United States of America basically refers to bodies of jurisdiction which imposes severe punishment on the offender who does not stick to the laws. The violator faces severe circumstances depending upon the crime which he/she has committed. The punishment ranges from imprisonment to execution, this purely depends on how big or small the crime committed is.

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The criminal law is a very well taken care law, the government personally looks into the criminal law, and this is done in order to avoid a rise in criminal activities. The criminal law and the civil law are very different, in the sense that a private party can also force a civil law act but in the case of criminal law only government can take charge of it. The early civilizations did not distinguish between civil law and criminal law.

The first time that there was distinction seen in the two laws was way back during the Norman invasion of England. Every criminal law contains criminal elements; the most serious of breach of the criminal is murder and in such cases the government gives the offender the most severe of punishments which is called capital punishment, in other words the accused is given a death penalty, which is considered to be the highest form of punishing the human soul. There are different objectives of criminal law.

The first is Retribution; in this the government believes that the offender should be made to suffer in one way or another, the second one is Deterrence, the sole aim of this is to discourage the offender and to refrain him from doing the same crime in the future and the same is made sure by imposing hefty fine on the offender. The third is Incapacitation; in this the criminal is kept way away from the society so that a significant change can be brought in the offender.

The fourth is Rehabilitation; this aims at complete transformation of the offender so that when he/she gets back in the society, they should not find it hard to adjust to the circumstances. The last one is Restitution. “This is a victim-oriented theory of punishment. The goal is to repair, through state authority, any hurt inflicted on the victim by the offender. For example, one who embezzles will be required to repay the amount improperly acquired. Restitution is commonly combined with other main goals of criminal justice and is closely related to concepts in the civil law.” (Wikipedia n.a)

The law in the United States of America varies from state to state when it comes to the other laws but in the case of criminal law all the states act very similarly to each other. The accused is taken to task and this way the government of United States of America makes sure that the crime rate remains under control.


Criminal Law. (2008). In Wikipedia. Web.

Criminal law –Penal Law. (2008). In Hg. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 17). American Criminal Law & Procedure.

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"American Criminal Law & Procedure." StudyCorgi, 17 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "American Criminal Law & Procedure." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "American Criminal Law & Procedure." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "American Criminal Law & Procedure." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'American Criminal Law & Procedure'. 17 October.

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