According to criminal law, crimes are offences against the social order. In popular law jurisdictions, there is a legal fiction that crimes disturb the peace of the sovereign. Government officials, as agents of the sovereign, are accountable for the prosecution of offenders. Therefore, the criminal law “plaintiff” is the sovereign, which in sensible terms translates into the monarch or the folks.

The main objective of criminal law is deterrence and punishment, when that of civil law is person compensation. Criminal offences consist of two distinct components the physical act (the actus reus, guilty act) and the requisite mental state with which the act is carried out (the mens rea, guilty thoughts). For instance, in murder the ‘actus reus is the unlawful killing of a individual, when the ‘mens rea is malice aforethought (the intention to kill or bring about grievous injury). The criminal law also particulars the defenses that defendants could bring to lessen or negate their liability (criminal duty) and specifies the punishment which could be inflicted. Criminal law neither demands a victim, nor a victim’s consent, to prosecute an offender. In addition, a criminal prosecution can take place more than the objections of the victim and the consent of the victim is not a defense in most crimes.

Criminal law in most jurisdictions each in the popular and civil law traditions is divided into two fields:

* Criminal process regulates the procedure for addressing violations of criminal law

* Substantive criminal law particulars the definition of, and punishments for, numerous crimes.

Criminal law distinguishes crimes from civil wrongs such as tort or breach of contract. Criminal law has been observed as a program of regulating the behavior of people and groups in relation to societal norms at massive whereas civil law is aimed mostly at the partnership involving private people and their rights and obligations beneath the law. Though lots of ancient legal systems did not clearly define a distinction involving criminal and civil law, in England there was small distinction till the codification of criminal law occurred in the late nineteenth century. In most U.S. law schools, the fundamental course in criminal law is primarily based upon the English popular criminal law of 1750 (with some minor American modifications like the clarification of mens rea in the Model Penal Code).

Varieties of criminal law are: Arrests and Searches, Drug Crimes, Juvenile Law, Drunk Driving / DUI / DWI , Parole, Probation, Pardons, Violent Crimes, White Collar Crimes and Military Law.