Criminal offenses vary depending on where crimes are committed and the laws in force in that jurisdiction. The suspect aka accused is brought to a criminal court where the verdict is determined by a jury of his/her peers or by the presiding magistrate depending on jurisdiction and the legislation and regulations that govern the place.
Types of Criminal Offences
Financial & Other Crimes
Result in physical or mental harm to another person
Interfering with someone’s rights to use or enjoy his/her property
An incomplete crime i.e. halted while underway
Violation of specific laws and regulations
Deception, fraud or racketeering for financial gain
Sexual offenses such as rape
Larceny or theft
Acceptance of stolen property
Any attempt crime e.g. attempted robbery
Aiding & abetting
Alcohol-related crimes such as drunk driving (DUI)
Selling or supplying alcohol to underage
Robbery can go both ways depending on the outcome.
Different from intend to commit a crime
Could include personal or property offences
Includes white collar offenses
Rating of Criminal Offences
The aforementioned criminal offenses are still subdivided into smaller fractions depending on a number of factors. They are usually further classified due to their respective levels of gravity, violence involved, casualties, actions and intent. Criminal offenses are generally categorised into infractions, felonies and misdemeanours.
Infractions aka petty crimes, normally only require the payment of a fine with no jail time e.g. school zone laws and parking illegally
Felonies are serious criminal offenses such as serious personal crimes like kidnapping and murder with sentences ≥ 1 year imprisonment
Misdemeanoursare less serious criminal offenses such as DUI and theft with sentences ranging from payment of fines / fees to imprisonment for < 1 year
Defence in Criminal Offences
Defence of necessity: This is when the offence was committed for the “greater good”. Here the defence proves that the offence was unavoidable in order to prevent a greater catastrophe from occurring. The accused had no choice than to go against the law. Most tribunals are sceptical about such offences for fear of starting precedence.
Defence of duress: When the suspect pleads that they were forced into the crime by another person. Most legal systems expect that the threat be instantaneous, inevitable and that the threat be in most cases death.
Defence of automatism: Here the defendant pleads for lack of control of his/her body as well as not being responsible for their subsequent action. Examples include sleepwalking, mental disabilities and hypnotism.
Defence of mistakes: The defendant claims to be unaware that the alleged offence was considered as a crime or illegal. In most jurisdictions, there is no ignorance in front of the law but ignorance of the fact could be a defence i.e. a doctor mistakenly sending an sms that contained some confidential information of the patient to the wrong number.
Defence of infancy: Here the suspect falls below the age of criminal responsibility hence cannot be held accountable for his/her actions. However this is a slippery slope because it also usually depends on the crime committed and the age of the accused.
Defence of restraint: This is where the suspect is forced into an offence by an external force not within the scope of his/her control e.g.a suspect forced into an accident by a hurricane or a suspect intoxicated or unknowingly druggedby another.
Defence of entrapment: When a suspect is deceived into committing an offence by someone in authority or an official (or someone faking it). Therefore the suspect was deceived into thinking they were doing something legal.
Defence of legitimate purpose: Here the offence wasn’t committed for the purpose stated by the laws e.g. suspect accused of having prescription drugs with the intent to distribute, and tends out it was for personal consumption and there was no intent to distribute.
Defence of double jeopardy: No one can be tried and sentenced for the same crime twice. In same respect one cannot be charged with a new offence if the latter was committed before the action was considered as a crime before the eyes of the law.
Defence of legal conflict: This is a very rare legal conundrum i.e. the suspected claims the law would have been against them irrespective of what they did. e.g. some cases in Asia where raped married women are being charged with adultery, but could have been charged with assault or murder had they defended themselves against their perpetrators or assailants.
Defence of authority: This is a defence were the accused is covered by venture of the position in the government or organisation. For example someone under the diplomatic immunity coverage cannot be charged unless the immunity is lifted.
Self-defence: This is when the accused inflicts bodily harm or even cause the death of the victim while protecting/defending themselves from the assault or attack of the victim.
Presumption of innocence: A suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty. So the defence attorney has the task of convincing the jury that the defendant is guilty.
Defence by reasonable doubt: The defence attorney has to convince the jury that the accused committed the crime. The former has to prove with all moral certainty that the suspect is guilty.
Alibi defence: The accused here can produce irrefutable fact or prove that they were elsewhere when the crime was being committed and cannot be linked in any way to it.