The term criminal law generally refers to substantive criminal laws. Substantive criminal laws define crimes and may establish punishments. A crime is defined as any behavior that is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Usually, these are acts that are believed to be unacceptable by a majority of people within a society.
Types of Crime
There are two major types of crime: felonies and misdemeanors. The difference between these two types of crime is defined by the potential punishment for committing them.
A felony is a crime that involves serious misconduct that is punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year. Common felonies include:
1. Murder – The killing of another human being without justification or valid excuse, and it is especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter.
2. Robbery – Crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear.
3. Treason – It covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant.
4. Rape – A type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.
5. Kidnapping –The unlawful taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person unlawfully. This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, or in connection with a child custody dispute.
A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for a year or less. Common misdemeanors include:
1. Petty theft – A type of theft crime that is based on the low value of the stolen property. Most states divide theft laws into two categories- grand theft and petty theft.
2. Driving under the influence (DUI), or Driving while intoxicated (DWI) – The crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs (including recreational drugs and those prescribed by physicians), to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. People who receive multiple DUI offenses are often people struggling with alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
3. Minor in possession of alcohol or a MIP – It is a criminal offense. Anyone who is under the age of 21 and possesses alcohol, with the exception of special circumstances, is violating the law of the state. If sufficient evidence is shown to a police officer that the person under 21 has been drinking alcohol or is in possession of alcohol, an MIP may be issued to the underage drinker.