Purpose Of Criminal Laws

7500 Words30 Pages
Chapter 1B The Purposes of Criminal Law It is easy to think of criminal law as an instrument of oppression or at least of repression, a matter of the might of the state pitted against the meagre resources of the offender. Not always, but often. These appearances reflect a fair proportion of the reality. But there is a lot more to the reality than that. Undoubtedly the main consequence of a criminal trial is the fact that if the offender is found guilty, something unpleasant or at least unwelcome is likely to happen to him or her. Convicted offenders stand in danger of being subjected to measures designed to punish them, or protect the community from them. It is only with a few matters, such as bonds or probation, that there is any measure of agreement between the court and the offender. Generally, the court simply imposes its will on the offender. But there is another side to it. A day in court may not be a welcome experience for the accused, who could as a result be deprived of liberty, wealth or reputation. But it has advantages over other possible methods of crime control. Both private enterprise vengeance and control through executive action would avoid the drama and procedural messiness of a criminal trial, but would vastly diminish the quality of life. The criminal law is there not only to punish and control the offender, but to offer him or her a considerable measure of protection through a genuinely judicial system of punishment and control. These different aspects of the purposes of criminal law will be examined under three heads: protection of the offender, punishment, and protection of the community. I. Protection of the Offender The infliction of harm is often likely to cause indignation and apprehension on the part of those injured and those who witness the injuries. Those most affected by the injury will want some kind of revenge, and they will
Open Document