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Chapter 16 Lesson 2. Civil and Criminal Law. Crime and Punishment. A crime is any act that harms people or society and that breaks a criminal law. Examples include shoplifting, stealing a car, and murder are crimes. Each state has a penal code .

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Chapter 16 lesson 2

Chapter 16 Lesson 2

Civil and Criminal Law

Crime and punishment
Crime and Punishment

  • A crime is any act that harms people or society and that breaks a criminal law.

  • Examples include shoplifting, stealing a car, and murder are crimes.

  • Each state has a penal code.

  • This document lists the states criminal laws and the punishments that can be given to those found guilty of each crime.

  • The federal government also has a penal code.

  • Most crimes break state laws that is why most criminal cases are tried in state courts, and most inmates are in state prison.

Types of crimes
Types of Crimes

  • There are two broad categories of crimes.

  • Misdemeanors are minor crimes for which a person can be fined a small sum of money or jailed up to a year.

  • Felonies are crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison.

  • Some crimes can be both a felony and a misdemeanor.

  • Theft is one for example, less than $100 is misdemeanor, anything more is considered a felony.

  • Vandalism is another crime which can be categorized as both.

  • Crimes can also be grouped as being against property or people.

  • Crimes against people are seen as more serious because they cause direct harm to a person.

  • The difference between theft and robbery is an illustration, or example, of the way these two types of crimes are seen.

  • Crimes against people are also called violent crimes.

Punishment f or crimes
Punishment for Crimes

  • Most criminal laws set minimum and maximum penalties for each type of crime.

  • Judges may give different sentences, or punishments, for the same crime because of the different circumstances in the two cases.

  • If parole is granted, or allowed, the person must regularly report to a parole officer for the remainder of the sentence.

  • One purpose of punishment is to punish the person so they can repay society.

  • A second reason is to protect society by locking up a dangerous person.

  • Third punishment serves as a warning.

  • Finally, punishment can criminals change their behavior.

Criminal case procedure
Criminal Case Procedure

  • The rights of the person suspected or accused of a crime are protected by the Bill of Rights.

  • In criminal cases, the government is the plaintiff.

  • It is called the prosecution.

  • In this role , the government starts the legal process against the defendant.

  • The police must gather enough evidence to convince the judge to order the arrest of the person they believe committed the crime.

  • The suspect is then taken to the police station for booking.

  • Booking involves making a record of the arrest.

  • The suspect is usually photographed and fingerprinted.

The preliminary hearing
The Preliminary Hearing

  • After the booking the suspect then goes before the judge to be charged.

  • The prosecution must show the judge probable cause, a good reason, for believing that the accused committed the crime.

  • The judge then explains the charges to the suspect.

  • If the suspect cannot afford a lawyer the judge will appoint one.

  • If the crime is a misdemeanor, the suspect enters a plea at this time.

  • If the plea is guilty, the judge sentences him or her.

  • If the suspect is not guilty, the judge sets a date for the trial.

  • If the crime is a felony, no plea at this time.

  • The judge sets a hearing to learn more about the case.

  • The judge then either sends the suspect back to jail or requires bail.

Indictment arraignment and pleas
Indictment, Arraignment, and Pleas

  • The next step is to indict the accused, or charge him or her with the crime.

  • A grand jury must take this step.

  • Some states allow judges to do so.

  • If the judge does not think the evidence is strong enough to bring charges, they can dismiss the case.

  • Arraignment follows if the case is not dismissed.

  • With a felony, the accused pleads guilt or innocence at this point.

  • A guilty plead end s the case.

  • The judge will issue a sentence.

  • If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge sets a date for the trial.

  • The prosecution and defense may discuss plea bargaining.

  • The prosecution agrees to a lesser charge in return for a guilty plea.

  • Most criminal cases end through plea bargaining.

The trial
The Trial

  • Defendants have the right to a jury trial however most choose to be tried by the judge.

  • If the defendant asks for a jury, the first step is to choose the jurors.

  • The lawyers for each side make opening statements outlining their cases.

  • Each side offers evidence and witnesses.

  • Witnesses offer testimony by answering questions from each side.

  • This second round of questioning is called cross-examination.

  • After both sides have presented their case, each makes a closing statement.

  • The judge instructs the jury by explaining how the law applies to the case.

The verdict sentencing and appeals
The Verdict, Sentencing, and Appeals

  • The jurors vote on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

  • To find the accused guilty, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.

  • If a jury cannot decide on a vote then the judge declares a mistrial.

  • A mistrial means no decision- the accused is found neither guilty nor innocent.

  • The prosecution must then decide whether or not to try the defendant again.

  • If the defendant is found not guilty they are set free this is called an acquittal.

  • If the verdict is guilty, the judge sets a court date for sentencing.

  • If the crime is a serious one, the judge may hold a hearing on the defendants background.

  • People found guilty often appeal the verdict to a higher court.

  • The appeals court does not try the case again, they only decide whether the defendants rights were violated or if the judge made errors during the trial.