Criminal law deals with the regulation of crime and the punishment of criminal action. It is the governing body that regulates the harmful behaviour of people within a society and institutes punishment and incarceration for those guilty of crime. It aims to protect the welfare of the people within the country and ensure that their rights and freedoms are not being limited by others.
There are five objectives to criminal law:
1. Retribution: This is commonly seen as the main goal of criminal law, and it ensures that justice is served and criminals suffer for their actions. Simply stated, this means that all crime comes with necessary punishment. Retribution can include jail time, house arrest, fines, and community service, among various other punishments. It is within this objective that punishment is dealt for those who break the law. By committing a crime that takes away another citizen’s human right or freedom, the criminal is submitting their own right and it is therefore taken away. They are then dealt with according to the specific crime and actions they took.
2. Deterrence: This objective targets the criminal who broke the law and aims to prevent individuals from committing more crimes. By punishing the individual, other citizens will be encouraged not to follow in the same actions as they will fear the consequences. By making an example of the criminal, the aim is that the crime will not be committed in the future.
3. Incapacitation: This is the way by which further crimes are prevented by the criminal. In most cases, this means imprisonment for a specific amount of time, but in some countries and locations it has also meant the death penalty.
4. Rehabilitation: This is the way by which offenders are changed into becoming better members of society. Whether done at an institution or via other means, the criminal is trained to become a better person who will not break any laws in the future. Rehabilitation occurs when the criminal is convinced and truly believes that their behaviour was wrong.
5. Restoration: Through restoration, the criminal is expected to pay back the victim in a means that is related to the crime they committed. For example, if the criminal is convicted of theft, they are ordered to pay back the amount they stole to the victim.
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