What Constitutes Criminal Law?

The law is a vast field that covers a variety of topics. From property law to family law, there is a number of disciplines in which a solicitor can practice and study their expertise.


Criminal law happens to be a niche all unto itself. Any incident that threatens the safety of an individual or harms the welfare of a person can be classified under this statute.


There are many elements that are involved in this category. Here we will outline the objectives, types and cases for the defence for criminal law.



From misdemeanour crimes that are dealt with by a small fine all the way up to capital punishment, there is a wide spectrum of offences that fall under criminal law. The objective will also vary and be a result of the nature of the incident and the past record of the defendant.


Five central objectives are noted: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restoration. At one end of the scale is retribution whereby the objective is to punish the defendant for the crime they have be found guilty of committing.


This slides down to cases of rehabilitation whereby the offender is given the opportunity to reform and reintegrate themselves back into society to contribute towards the community in a positive way.



Criminal law is a varied practice but can be broken down into two central categories: a misdemeanour or a felony. A misdemeanour is a scenario that is the lowest possible grade in events of criminal law. It will occur for incidents such as a petty theft, traffic violations or a minor assault. This will usually see a maximum sentence reach 12 months in prison.


A felony is in serious events where a major crime has been committed. From rape to robbery, manslaughter, murder or drug dealing, this will see the defendant facing years, a life sentence or even a capital punishment depending on local jurisdiction.


Strict liability offences and inchoate offences are minor cases that also fall under the category of criminal law.

Cases For The Defence


The most common forms of defence will be in cases duress or self-defence. Lawyers can plead any number of reasons for why their client acted in the manner they did, and this could include any of the following:


  • Necessity
  • Mistake of law or mistake of fact
  • Intoxication
  • Insanity
  • Defence of others or defence of property


The mens rea is a statute that will take into account the mental state of the defendant whilst the actus reus speaks to the type of criminal offence that has been committed.