This section examines the fundamental principles of criminal law. It describes the functions of formal criminal law (what criminal law does and what it cannot do), how crimes differ from civil and moral wrongs, and various classification schemes used in discussing criminal law. This section also examines the sources of substantive and procedural criminal law (where we look to find our criminal law), the limitations that the constitution places on both substantive criminal law and procedural criminal law, and the important concept of the rule of law in American jurisprudence (legal theory). After reading this section, students will be able to:
- Distinguish between a criminal wrong, a civil wrong, and a moral wrong.
- Identify the many ways in which criminal law is classified.
- Recognize the many sources of substantive and procedural criminal law.
- Identify the limitations that the federal constitution and state constitutions place on creating substantive laws and enforcing those laws.
- Recognize the importance of rule of law in American jurisprudence and understand the importance of judicial review in achieving rule of law