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Criminal law is the only device through which organized societies protect the security of the individual interest and ensure the survival of the group.

Criminal Law
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criminal law is that branch of substantive public law, which explains crimes, treats their nature, and provides for their punishment.

Criminal law refers to violation of the criminal statutes and statutory provisions, but may also describe any action prohibited by the government


Generally, crime is a morally wrong act. The purpose of criminal sanctions is to make the offender give retribution for harm done and expiate his moral guilt.

Each state decides what conduct to designate a crime therefore each state has its criminal code.


An individual commits a crime if they act in a way that fulfills every element of an offense.

Every crime involves three elements i-e: Firstly, ACTUS REUS which means the act or conduct, secondly MENS REA which is the individual mental state at the time of the act and lastly PROXIMATE CAUSATION which is the causation between the act and the effect or human conduct that must cause harm. Example Murder, Theft, etc.


The harm must be legally forbidden.

Harm should have been caused, mere intentions are not enough.

Men’s rea or criminal intent must be present.

There must be conduct that brings harmful results.

Crime is said to have been a violation of the fundamental morality in society to survive


Criminal law also called penal law is the collection of rules related to crime.

The law defines what conduct is prohibited by the state laws.

Criminal law is administered by the Indian penal code, evidence law and criminal procedure code, and so forth.

There are so many legislations that are related to criminal law. The prominent laws are the Indian penal code 1860, Evidence Act 1872, and Criminal procedure code 1973.

Famous criminal cases such as D.K. BASU and custodial death case, Nirbhaya Rape case, Nanavati murder case.


The main three legislations are :

INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860: Its objective is to provide a general law for the country

INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872: It is a set of rules and allied issues which governs the admissibility in the law courts of India.

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE, 1973: Its  procedure is for the investigation of the crime, presenting criminals before the court of law, collection of evidence, determination of guilt or innocence of the accused, imposition of penalties or punishments, etc. It further lays down the hierarchy of the courts competent to try criminal lawsuits. In descending order it is the High Court at the top followed by Sessions Court, First Class Judicial Magistrate, Second Class Judicial Magistrate, and Executive Magistrate. There is a limit affixed to sentences that these courts can pass against the accused. The Supreme Court is the apex court, and it has the ultimate power.

Some other criminal legislations are :

Juvenile justice act



Following are the differences between criminal law and civil law which gives the exact meaning of both laws.

In a criminal case the state government or federal government which is the prosecution may initiate a case, cases are almost decided by the judges, and punishment for serious charges often consists of imprisonment but may also include a fine paid to the government to secure a conviction, the prosecution must establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt and defendants are protected against the conduct by police or prosecutors that violates the constitutional rights.


In civil cases, cases are initiated by a private party  (the plaintiff) cases are usually decided by a judge, and punishment almost always consists of a monetary award and never consists of imprisonment, to prevail, the plaintiff must establish the defendant’s liability only according to the preponderance(quality) of the evidence and the defendants are entitled to the same legal protections as are the criminally accused.


Criminal law is the foundation of the criminal justice system. The law defines the acts that may lead to an arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. States punish a range of acts in their criminal codes.

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