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Introduction to Criminal Justice. Chapter 3A. Criminal Law Defined. Criminal Law protects society from harm by preventing and prosecuting crimes. Crime is an act so reprehensible it is considered a wrong against society. State prosecutes a person who commits a criminal act.

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criminal law defined
Criminal Law Defined
  • Criminal Law protects society from harm by preventing and prosecuting crimes.
  • Crime is an act so reprehensible it is considered a wrong against society.
  • State prosecutes a person who commits a criminal act.
  • Persons found guilty are punished by the government.
civil law defined
Civil Law Defined
  • The branch of the law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.
  • Concerns disputes between private individuals or entities---Parties usually seek money damages
  • Proceedings initiated by private individuals and entities---plaintiff
  • Disputes may involve contract terms, property ownership, or automobile accidents.
similarities between criminal and civil law
Similarities Between Criminal and Civil Law
  • Both attempt to control behavior by imposing sanctions on those who violate the law
  • Often supplement each other, and victim may file civil suit against individuals who are being prosecuted criminally
  • General legal procedures somewhat similar---Except lower standard of proof in civil cases
classification of felony crimes by seriousness
Classification of Felony Crimes by Seriousness
  • Felonies---Serious crimes punishable by death or imprisonment longer than one year
  • A. Capital offense---maximum penalty is death
  • B. 1ST degree felonies---maximum of life imprisonment
  • C. 2nd degree felonies---maximum 10 years imprisonment
classifications of murder
Classifications of Murder
  • Varies from state to state, but generally:
  • Murder in the First Degree---When crime is premeditated and deliberate
  • Murder in the Second Degree---No premeditation or deliberation, but did have “malice aforethought” toward victim
  • Manslaughter---no malice aforethought toward victim
malice aforethought defined
“Malice Aforethought” Defined
  • “Wanton disregard of the consequences of his actions.”
  • Somewhat analogous to having intent to kill the victim
degrees of murder
Degrees of Murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter – intent to kill is present, but malice is lacking (crime of passion)
  • Involuntary manslaughter – occurs in cases were offender’s acts were negligent and there was no intent
your thoughts
Your Thoughts
  • Mother of five kids,

leaves the baby in the

car for three hours

while shopping. Baby dies.

  • 1st degree murder?
  • 2nd degree murder?
  • Involuntary manslaughter?
classification of misdemeanors by degree
Classification of Misdemeanors by Degree
  • Misdemeanors are all crimes which are not felonies
  • Punishable by up to one year in local jail (not prison)
  • Sub-classified as---
    • Class A---up to one year in jail
    • Class B---up to 6 months in jail
    • Class C---up to 30 days in jail
iowa degrees of theft
Iowa Degrees of Theft
  • The seriousness of some crimes are defined by the monetary damage
    • Theft 1st – over $10,000 Class C
    • Theft 2nd - $1000 to $10,000 Class D

- Theft 3rd - $500 to $1,000 Aggravated

    • Theft 4th - $200 to $500 Serious
    • Theft 5th – below $200 Simple

Criminal Mischief is also like this

iowa enhanced cases
Iowa Enhanced Cases
  • Repeating an offense can increase the crime type and penalty:
    • OWI 1st – Serious Misdemeanor
    • OWI 2nd – Aggravated Misdemeanor
    • OWI 3rd – Felony; Class C

Domestic Abuse and Possession of controlled Substances are enhanced

mala in se crimes
Mala in Se Crimes
  • Considered a wrong even if no law prohibiting the behavior
  • Based on a “natural law”
  • Against “natural, moral, public” principles of society
  • Examples---Murder, rape, theft
mala prohibita crimes
Mala Prohibita Crimes
  • Acts which are crimes because they have been codified (put into law) by statute
  • “Man-made” laws
  • Not inherently wrong---only because defined as such
  • Definitions vary from state to state
  • Example---Bigamy
uniform crime reports ucr
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
  • Produced by FBI; Voluntary participation by local law enforcement
  • Released each year to measure over all crime rate in U. S.
  • Measures three factors---
    • Number arrested
    • Number of crimes reported by victims, witnesses or police
    • Number of officers and support personnel
the crime index
The Crime Index
  • Part I of the UCR
  • Due to seriousness and frequency, are measured to give “general picture” of crime
  • Eight index crimes: Criminal Homicide, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny/Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft, Arson
ucr part ii offenses
UCR Part II Offenses
  • Arrests for other felonies and misdemeanors
  • All other offenses not listed in Part I
national incident based reporting system nibrs
National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • 1980’s DOJ began improvement of data collection
  • 22 offense categories collected from local agencies (Fig. 3.4, p. 59)
  • Computerized record system maintained by federal government
  • More complete---Monitors all criminal incidents reported to police
  • Bias motivation of offenders noted (hate crimes)
geography of crime
Geography of Crime
  • States in the South and West have higher rates of crimes than those in the Midwest and Northeast
  • 18% of households in urban areas are victimized by violent or property crimes in 2004 compared to 12% in rural area
  • Explanations?
  • How many crimes

go unreported?

  • What types of crimes

may be more under


  • Why?
victim surveys
Victim Surveys
  • Aim to avoid distorting influences of local agencies on data
  • Victims are surveyed about their experience with crime
  • Higher victimization rate than previously thought
  • “Dark figure” of crime revealed
  • Fig. 3.5 on p. 60
national crime victimization survey ncvs
National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
  • Bureau of Census, with help from DOJ
  • Annual survey of 40,000 households
  • Measures both reported and unreported crime
  • Unaffected by police bias or distortion in local reporting
  • Does not rely on victims reporting directly to police
reliability of ncvs
Reliability of NCVS
  • Higher rates of crime than reported by UCR
  • No guarantee respondents answered truthfully
  • For reasons of shame, forgetfulness, or fear of reprisal
  • Any research survey can yield distorted answers due to nature of questions
ask the criminal self report surveys
“Ask the Criminal” –Self Report Surveys
  • Persons asked directly about criminal activity to which they have been a party
  • Confidential and anonymous
  • Most useful---Where group to be studied is already in an institutional setting
  • Seems to result in surprisingly candid responses
crime trends today
Crime Trends Today
  • Higher rates of crime in more heavily populated areas---Social Disorganization
  • Rising murder rates a reflection of illegal drug activity
  • Disproportionate number of those arrested for, and convicted of drug crimes are lower income minorities (300% increase since 1980)
  • Member of this “underclass” more likely unemployed, living in disorganized neighborhood
  • Sale and use of drugs becomes attractive option
race poverty and crime
Race, Poverty and Crime
  • African Americans are 6 times more likely to be murder victims than whites
  • African Americans are 7 times more likely to commit murder than whites
race poverty and crime27
Race, Poverty, and Crime
  • Be careful of a jumping

to a quick conclusion

  • The majority of people

residing in low income

areas are law abiding

  • Research has shown that violence is more strongly associated with family disorganization than with race
crime trends today28
Crime Trends Today
  • Peak criminal activity in teen years---Highest around age 17-18
  • High correlation between gun ownership and being a gang member
  • In general, poor and minorities tend to commit more crime than wealthy, caucasian
  • But, rate of violent crime is more closely tied to family disorganization than race
crime trends today29
Crime Trends Today
  • Youth from fatherless homes twice as likely to be imprisoned
  • Highest crime in impoverished neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates, lower educational levels, and unemployment
drugs and crime
Drugs and Crime
  • Is there a correlation between substances and crime?
    • Nationally, 4% of all homicides are drug related
    • In 2005, there were 1,846,351 arrests for drug violation which is 3 times higher than in 1980
    • 8 out of 10 prisoners are addicted or high at the time of their offense
small group 2 points
Small Group – 2 Points

Piece of paper; names at top;

- List the top three

drugs of Iowa prisoners.

- Is it the same drugs for

males & females?

guns and crime
Guns and Crime
  • Since 1930 violent crimes have increased
  • Between 1985 and 1992, homicide rates increased by 50% for white males aged 14-17 and tripled for African American males of same age
    • Why?
      • Gangs
      • Availability of firearms?
guns and crime33
Guns and Crime
  • Gun control advocates see shootings as reflection of society addicted to firearms
  • They argue that easy access to firearms is directly causative of violent crime
  • Gun ownership supporters focus on incidents where citizens protected themselves from crime with firearms
  • Insufficient evidence from studies as to whether gun ownership may increase or deter crime---Unreliable research available
federal response to gun violence
Federal Response to Gun Violence
  • Brady Bill, 1993
  • Background check on potential gun purchasers
  • 1.2 million applications have been rejected
  • Some research---Brady Bill has had no measurable impact on number of guns
  • Now have the ability to “fingerprint” guns; Through serial numbers and shell casing markings
crime career criminals
Crime: Career Criminals
  • Career criminals are about 6% of the offender population
  • The 6% committed about 71% of the offenses
  • In responses, law enforcement agencies have formed ‘career criminal units’