Law is a system put in place to control and protect people. It serves as fundamental mediator of relation between people in different aspects of life. Law as a subject is very broad, but we will concentrate on two classification of law which are; criminal law and civil law. There is clear distinct between the two classifications and the nature of the offence in which each can be applied.
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According to legal information institute of Cornell University Law School criminal law entails prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. On the other hand they describe civil law as those cases which involve individuals and organizations trying to resolve legal dispute. Silver (2007) say the objective of criminal law is to punish bad behavior, and he gives two distinctions from civil law (P. 1). The first point he argues is that crime is a public matter unlike civil case. The state is responsible for protecting the public good, so actions that the state decides harm the public good are defined as crimes (p. 2). The other difference he states involves an aspect of moral condemnation for bad behavior and in this case we view criminal act as a violation of communal sense of decency (P. 2). He continues to explain that the state on behalf of all its citizens, is charged not only with restoring order by removing wrong doers from the society but also with expressing our shared outrage at the criminal’s behavior (P. 2).
The notion of punishment also gives a distinction between the two types of law. In criminal law punishment includes; imprisonment, fine paid to the government and death penalties depending on the offence committed. Crimes are categorized in two classes; those with maximum sentence more than one year (felonies) and those with maximum sentence less than one year (Misdemeanors). On the other in civil law the defendant only pays the plaintiff the damages caused by his act.
Criminal law aims at ensuring good conduct and behavior among people and thus it is very important for any country. Brody, Acker, and Logan (2001) “Say criminal law defines specific conduct as crime and assigns Corresponding punishment” (p.1). Criminal law is very important because unlike civil legal system which serves individuals, it is used to serve both the state and individual. Criminal laws not only aims at punishing offenders but it has a wide objective of; reprisal, incapacitation, rehabilitation, prevention and compensation.
Enforcing law in society is very essential because it helps in minimizing conflict. Giles (2002) says law enforcement is a profoundly important institution in our society because it plays a critical role in maintaining legal and social order (P. 1). He continues to argue that while one distinguishing aspect of law enforcement is institutionary- endorsed ability to engage in lethal force when absolutely, an under-appreciated fact is that law enforcement officers are an integral part of, and not separate from, the community citizen when duty off.
Generally it is clear that law is essential in our society to control criminal rate and ensure justice to those offended.
In conclusion we can agree that criminal law and civil law are different, but their core purpose is to maintain order and justice in our society. Abiding to the law will minimize the criminal behavior and therefore people should be taught to obey the law rather than waiting to punish them.