The CID was organized in 1842 when six officers were selected to form the first Detective Department, following two attempts on Queen Victorias life and an outbreak of major crime in London. Now there are about 3.500 men and women detectives working in plain clothes on Londons streets.

All of them are selected for their patience and tact, and then trained to make the best use of their aptitude for detective work.

2,000 of them work from police stations in the 75 Divisions that make up the 787 square miles police by the Met. Each Divisional CID office is run by a Detective Chief Inspector, Detective Sergeants and Detective Constables to deal with crime investigations. The Detective Chief Inspector is responsible to the Divisional Chief Superintendent on all crime matters. The Division can call on the expertise of more senior Detective Officers Detective Superintendents and Detective Chief Superintendents, who are based on each of the five Areas within the Met in cases of murder, rape and other serious crime.

Before becoming a detective each officer must have completed two years service as a uniformed constable on probation and have served on a local crime squad, which is made up of qualified CID officer and uniformed officers working in plain clothes.

The constable will then be recommended by his Divisional Superintendent as being suitable for CID work. He will go on to face a selection board made up of two senior CID officers and a senior uniformed officer.

If selected, the officer will have to carry out further study in his own time, and then attend a training course at the Detective Training School at Hendon.

1,500 officers are split into a number of branches and squads; the principle ones are:

The Major Investigation Reserve, which can be called upon to investigate murder and other serious crimes within the Metropolitan Police District and conducts enquiries both at home and abroad on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions or other Government bodies.

The Extradition, Illegal Immigration and Passport Squad investigate organized crime relating to the obtaining of British Passports and illegal immigration. It also deals with the extradition of fugitive offenders to Foreign and Commonwealth Countries.

The Central Cheque Squad investigates offences and collates information about organized cheque, travellers cheque and credit card frauds committed against the clearing banks and major stores within the Metropolitan Police District.

The Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Squad stared life as part of the Flying Squad, but became a squad in its own right in 1960. it is staffed by specialists in the examination of suspect cars. They are particularly adept in spotting cars produced by ringers, the thieves who ring the changes on cars by building them from stolen parts. The squad also specializes in the investigation of organized theft from industrial car plants.

The Serious and Organized Crime Squad was formed to deal with organized crime in London, its successes have earned the men who work for it the name of The Gangbusters.

The Central Robbery Squad deals with investigating major armed robberies at banks, building societies, security vehicles and similar commercial targets in the Metropolis. Sometimes these investigations involve officers traveling to other parts of the country and abroad.

The Regional Crime Squad is a national network of crime squads working under a National Coordinator and dealing with serious crime.

The No. 9 Regional Crime Squad covers London and is made up of Metropolitan Police Officers and officers from the City of London Police. The squad works closely with the Central Robbery Squad as well as with other Regional Crime Squad, using and acting on information gleaned from their own confidential sources.

Members of the Regional Crime Squad and the Central Robbery Squad often use their own cars fitted with multi-channel radios, which can be tuned to the frequencies used by police forces all over the country. Each car is also fitted with a short-wave set for car to car communication. This makes it difficult for criminals to listen in and get advance warning of a squads movements.

The Criminal Intelligence Branch is the branch which collects and stores information about know and important criminals their movements, habits and associates.

The branch is also responsible for supplying all the back-up services required by detectives working in the field, including the Laboratory liaison staff. It also has an equipment unit which develops and operates technical aids used by police.

The Metropolitan and City Police Company Fraud Department, more commonly know as the Fraud Squad, is staffed by officers from both forces and was formed in 1946 with the sole object of dealing with complex and protracted fraud cases.

Its investigations mainly concern limited companies, banks and businesses specializing in money investment at home and abroad and dealing in shares and securities. A sing of the times is that the Fraud Squad now has the national responsibility of keeping records on corruption in public life.

Fraud Squad investigations can take detectives to different parts of the word and at any one time the squad is concerned with several hundred criminal allegations involving in excess of £250 million.

The Special Branch was formed in 1883 under the title of Special Irish Branch. Its activities were concerned with investigating Fenian bombings and the Fenians themselves, who were Irish terrorists operating in London and the provinces. The word Irish was dropped from the name three years later and the Special Branchs scope was widened to include providing personal protection and involvement in matters of national security.

The Anti-Terrorist Branch was formed because of terrorist activities in London. Detectives from the branch are involved in the dangerous work of investigating acts of terrorism and politically motivated crime in the Metropolitan area. The Anti-Terrorist Branch was born from the Bomb Squad, itself formed out of necessity in 1971 when London became a target for the anarchist bombers of the Angry Brigade.

Attached to this Branch are the civilian explosives officers, who have the dangerous task of dealing with suspect devices.

The International Criminal Police Organization, better known simply as Interpol, has the role of communication between the police forces of over 100 countries and the Interpol office at the Yard is equipped with the most modern radio equipment. The Metropolitan Police has men permanently stationed at Interpols Headquarters in Paris.

No modern CID can work without the help of the scientists. The Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory provides the detectives of the force with the expertise of highly qualified scientists working in the Laboratorys five basic areas Biology, Chemistry, Photography, Documents and Firearms.

The Laboratory also analyses specimens sent in from the Home Counties police forces and can provide the conclusive piece of evidence to secure a conviction. Conversely, it can often eliminate a suspect from a case and establish his or her innocence.


Who is who in the law? If you are prosecuted for a crime in Britain, you may meet the following people during your process through the courts:

Magistrates. Magistrates are unpaid judges, usually chosen from well-respected people in the local community. They are guided on points of law by an official, the clerk. There are magistrates courts in most towns.

Solicitors. After the accused person has been arrested, the first person he or she needs to see is a solicitor. Solicitors are qualified lawyers who advise the accused and help prepare the defence case. The solicitor may represent the accused in court. A person who is too poor to afford a solicitor will usually get Legal Aid financial help from the state.

Barristers. In more serious cases it is usual for the solicitor to hire a barrister to defend the accused. The barrister is trained in the law and in the skills required to argue a case in court. The barrister for the defence will be confronted by his or her opposite number, the prosecuting barrister who represents the state.

Jurors. A jury consists of twelve men and women from the local community. They sit in the Crown Court, with a judge, and listen to witnesses for the defence and prosecution before deciding whether the accused is guilty or innocent. In Britain the person is innocent unless found guilty: the prosecution has the burden of establishing guilt.

Judges. Judges are trained lawyers, nearly always ex barristers, who sit in the Crown Court (and appeal courts)/ the judge rules on points of law, and makes sure that the trial is conducted properly. He or she does not decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused that is the jurys job. However, if the jury find the accused guilty, then the judge will pass sentence.

Coroners. Coroners have medical or legal training (or both) and inquire into violent or unnatural deaths.

Clerks of the court. Clerks look after administrative and legal matters in the courtroom.

Sentencing. The most common sentences are fines, prison and probation. Probation is used often with more minor offences. A person on probation must report to a local police station at regular intervals, which restricts his or her movement. A sentence of community service means that the convicted person has to spend several hours a week doing useful work in his locality.

A few more facts. Children under 10 cannot be charged with a criminal offence.

Offenders between 10 and 17 are tried by special juvenile courts.

The death penalty technically still exists in Britain for some rare offences, such as treason, but is no longer used.

The punishment for murder is a life sentence. This can be much less than a lifetime in prison, depending on factors such as good behaviour.

The most common punishment for crimes 80 per cent of the total is a fine.




The American judicial process is based largely on the English common law system. Common law is law that is developed and interpreted by judges, rather than a fixed body of legal rules such as the codes of a civil law system. A basic feature of the common law is the doctrine of "precedent", under which judges use the legal principles established in earlier cases to decide new cases that have similar facts and raise similar legal issues. Judges of the lower courts are required to follow the decisions of the higher courts within their jurisdiction.

Congress in this century has passed elaborately detailed statutes, sometimes referred to as "codes", that establish fundamental legal principles in particular fields of law. These bodies of statutory law include, for example, the Bankruptcy Code, the Internal Revenue Code, the Social Security Act, the Securities Act, and the Securities Exchange Act. In addition, the individual states have adopted various comprehensive codes, such as the Uniform Commercial Code. These statutes are often further developed and interpreted by regulations adopted by federal and state administrative agencies.

Despite the growth of statutory law over the last century, however, American statutes and regulations, even when called "codes", continue to be interpreted by the courts in common-law, or "precedent" fashion. Thus, for example, a bankruptcy court applying the Bankruptcy Code will consult relevant case law to determine whether there are Supreme Court or court of appeals rulings applying the particular code section in similar factual situations. Lawyers who argue the question before the court will not only dispute whether the situation is governed by a particular section of the statute, but whether it should be governed by an earlier court ruling in a purportedly similar case.

All judges in the United States, regardless of the level of the court in which they sit, exercise the power of judicial review. While judges will normally presume the laws or actions that they are reviewing to be valid, they will invalidate statutes, regulations, or executive actions that they find to be clearly inconsistent with the Constitution. They are required to abide by a hierarchy of the laws that places the United States Constitution above all other laws. Judges will therefore not only abide by precedent in interpreting statutes, regulations, and actions by members of the executive branch, but will seek to interpret them consistently with the Constitution.


A federal civil case involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. To begin a civil lawsuit in a federal court, the plaintiff files a document called a "complaint" with the court and "serves" a copy of the complaint on the defendant. The complaint is a short statement that describes the plaintiffs injury or other legal claim, explains how the defendant caused the injury, and asks the court to order relief. A plaintiff may seek money to compensate for the injury or ask the court to order the defendant to stop the conduct that is causing the harm. The court may also order other types of relief, such as a declaration of the legal rights of the plaintiff in a particular situation.

To prepare a case for trial, the litigants may conduct "discovery". In discovery, the litigants must provide information to each other about the subject matter of the case, such as the identity of witnesses, the expected testimony of the witnesses, and copies of any documents related to the case. The purpose of discovery is to prepare for a trial, and to prevent surprise at trial, by requiring % the litigants to assemble their evidence and prepare to call witnesses, before the trial begins. The scope of discovery is broad, and discovery is conducted by the parties themselves under the procedural rules of the courts. Judges are involved to the extent necessary to oversee the process; and to resolve disputes brought to their attention by the parties.

One common method of discovery is the "deposition". In a deposition, a witness is required to answer under oath questions about the case asked by the lawyers in the presence of a court reporter. A second method of discovery is the "interrogatory", which is a written question from one party to another that must be answered under oath. A third method allows a party to require another party to produce documents and other materials within its custody or control, or to enter on another partys property for inspection or other purposes relating to the litigation.

Each side may file requests, or "motions", with the court seeking rulings on various legal issues. Some motions ask for a ruling that determines whether the case may proceed as a matter of law. A "motion to dismiss", for example, may argue that the plaintiff has not stated a claim under which relief may be granted under the law, or that the court does not have jurisdiction over the parties or the claim at issue, and therefore lacks the power to adjudicate. A "motion for summary judgment" argues that there are no disputed factual issues for a jury to resolve, and urges the judge to decide the case based solely on the legal issues. Other motions focus on the discovery process, addressing disputes over what information is subject to the discovery rules, protecting the private or privileged nature of certain information, or urging the court to preserve evidence for use at trial. Other motions address procedural issues such as the proper venue for the case, the schedule for discovery or trial, or the procedures to be followed at trial.

To avoid the expense and delay of having a trial, judges encourage the litigants to reach an agreement resolving their dispute. Most judges conduct settlement conferences with the parties, and they may refer a case to a trained mediator or arbitrator to facilitate an agreement. As a result, litigants often decide to resolve a civil lawsuit with an agreement known as a "settlement". Most civil cases are terminated by settlement or dismissal without a trial.

If a case is not settled, the court will proceed to a trial. In a wide variety of civil cases, either side is entitled under the Constitution to request a jury trial. If the parties waive their right to a jury, the case will be heard by a judge without a jury.

If a trial is conducted, witnesses testify under oath and respond to questions asked by the attorneys. Testimony is conducted under the supervision of the judge, and it must comply with formal rules of evidence designed to assure fairness, reliability, and the accuracy of testimony and documents. At the conclusion of the evidence, each side gives a closing argument. If a case is tried before a jury, the judge will instruct the jury on what the law is and will tell the jury what facts and issues it must resolve. If the case is tried by a judge without a jury, the judge will decide both the facts and the law in the case. In a civil case, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, who must convince the jury (or the judge if there is no jury) by a "preponderance of the evidence", i.e., that it is more likely than not that the defendant is legally responsible for any harm that the plaintiff has suffered.


Part I

The judicial process in a criminal case differs from a civil case in several important ways. The parties in the case are the United States attorney (the prosecutor representing the Department of Justice) and the defendant or defendants. Criminal investigations are conducted by the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies, which are both part of the executive branch. The court plays no role in criminal investigations. Its role in the criminal justice process is to apply the law and make legal and factual decisions.

Three main levels of federal criminal offenses have been defined by Congress. Felony offenses are the most serious crimes and may be punished by more than one year in prison. Misdemeanor offenses are less serious and may be punished by up to one year in prison. The least serious offenses, known as petty offenses, may be punished by up to six months imprisonment. Most petty offenses are addressed through fines rather than a prison sentence.

After a person is arrested, a pretrial services officer or probation officer of the court immediately interviews the defendant and conducts an investigation of the defendants background. The information obtained by the pretrial services officer or probation officer will be used to help a judge decide whether to release the defendant into the community before trial and whether to impose conditions of release.

At an initial appearance, a judge (normally a magistrate judge) advises the defendant of the charges filed, considers whether the defendant should be held in custody until trial, and determines whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an offense has been committed and the defendant has committed it. Defendants who are unable to hire their own attorney are advised of their right to a court-appointed attorney. Each district court, by statute, is required to have in place a plan for providing competent attorneys to represent defendants who cannot afford their own attorneys. The court may appoint a federal public defender (a full-time federal official appointed by the court of appeals), a community public defender (a member of a community-based legal aid organization funded by a grant from the judiciary), or a private attorney who has agreed to accept such appointments from the court. In all these types of appointments, the attorney who represents the defendant is paid by the court from funds appropriated to the judiciary by Congress. Defendants released into the community before trial may be required to obey certain restrictions, such as home confinement or drug testing, and to make periodic reports to a pretrial services officer to ensure appearance at trial.

Under the Constitution, a felony criminal case may only proceed beyond the initial stages if the defendant is indicted by a grand jury. The grand jury reviews evidence presented to it by the United States attorney and decides whether there is sufficient evidence to require a defendant to stand trial.

The defendant enters a plea to the charges brought by the United States attorney at a hearing known as an arraignment. Most defendants more than 90% plead guilty rather than go to trial. If a defendant pleads guilty in return for the government agreeing to drop certain charges or to recommend a less severe sentence, the agreement often is called a "plea bargain". If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge may impose a sentence at that time, but more commonly will schedule a hearing to determine the sentence at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will proceed to schedule a trial.


Part II

Criminal cases include a limited amount of pretrial discovery proceedings similar to those in civil cases, with substantial restrictions to protect the identity of government informants and to prevent intimidation of witnesses. The attorneys also may file motions, which are requests for rulings by the court before the trial. For example, defense attorneys often file a motion to suppress evidence, which asks the court to exclude from the trial evidence that the defendant believes was obtained by the government in violation of the defendants constitutional rights.

In a criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the government. Defendants do not have to prove their innocence. Instead, the government must provide evidence to convince the jury of the defendants guilt. The standard of proof in a criminal trial is much higher than in a civil case. It must be beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the evidence must be so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The judge instructs the jury on the law and the decisions that the jury must make.

If a defendant is found not guilty, the defendant is released and the government may not appeal. Nor can the person be charged again with the same crime in a federal court. The Constitution prohibits "double jeopardy", or being tried twice for the same offense.

In determining the defendants sentence, the judge must follow special federal sentencing guidelines issued by the United States Sentencing Commission, an organization within the judicial branch. The sentencing guidelines are designed to:

incorporate the purposes of sentencing (i.e., just punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation);

provide certainty and fairness in sentencing by avoiding unwarranted disparity among offenders with similar characteristics convicted of similar criminal conduct, while permitting some judicial flexibility to take into account relevant aggravating and mitigating factors;

reflect, to the extent practicable, advancement in the knowledge of human behavior as it relates to the criminal justice process.

The sentencing guidelines provide federal judges with consistent sentencing ranges that take into account both the seriousness of the criminal conduct and the defendants criminal record. Based on the severity of the offense, the guidelines assign most federal crimes to one of 43 "offense levels". Each offender is also assigned to one of six "criminal history categories" based upon the extent and recency of his or her past misconduct. The point at which the offense level and criminal history category intersect on the Commissions sentencing table determines an offenders guideline range. In order to provide flexibility, the top of each guideline range exceeds the bottom by six months or 25 percent (whichever is greater).

Ordinarily, the judge must choose a sentence from within the guideline range unless the court identifies a factor that the Sentencing Commission failed to consider that should result in a different sentence. However, the judge must in all cases provide the reasons for the sentence. Sentences outside the guideline range are subject to review by the courts of appeals for an abuse of discretion, and all sentences can be reviewed for incorrect application of the relevant guidelines or law.

In most felony cases the judge waits for the results of a presentence investigation report, prepared by the courts probation office, before imposing sentence. The presentence investigation report summarizes for the court the background information needed to determine the appropriate sentence, including a thorough exploration of the circumstances of the offense and the defendants criminal background and characteristics. The report applies the sentencing guidelines to the individual defendant and the crimes for which he or she has been found guilty. During sentencing, the court may consider not only the evidence produced at trial, but all relevant information that may be provided by the pretrial services officer, the United States attorney, and the defense attorney. In unusual circumstances, the court may depart from the sentence calculated according to the sentencing guidelines.

A sentence may include time in prison, a fine to be paid to the government, community service, and restitution to be paid to crime victims. If the convicted defendant is released, the courts probation officers assist the court in enforcing any conditions that are imposed as part of a criminal sentence. The supervision of offenders also may involve services such as substance abuse testing and treatment programs, job counseling, and alternative detention options.


Perhaps the most important way individual citizens become involved in the federal judicial process is byserving as jurors. There are two types of juries serving distinct functions in the federal trial courts: trial juries (also known as petit juries), and grand juries.

A civil trial jury typically consists of 6 to 12 persons. In a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfill a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or penalty should be. A criminal trial jury is usually made up of 12 members. Criminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence usually is set by a judge. Verdicts in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous, although the parties in a civil case may agree to a non-unanimous verdict. A jurys deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom.

A grand jury, which normally consists of 16 to 23 members, has a more specialized function. The United States attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence to the grand jury for them to determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not open for public observation.

Potential jurors are selected from any source that will yield a representative sample of the population at large. Most often jurors are chosen from a jury pool generated by random selection of citizens names from lists of registered voters, or combined lists of voters and people with drivers licenses, in the judicial district. The potential jurors complete questionnaires to help determine whether they are qualified to serve on a jury. After reviewing the questionnaires, the court randomly selects individuals to be summoned to appear for jury duty. These selection methods help ensure that jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age or political affiliation. Jurors receive modest compensation and expenses from the court for their service.

Being summoned for jury service does not guarantee that an individual actually will serve on a jury. When a jury is needed for a trial, the group of qualified jurors is taken to the courtroom where the trial will take place. The judge and the attorneys then ask the potential jurors questions to determine their suitability to serve on the jury, a process called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to exclude from the jury people who may not be able to decide the case fairly. Members of the panel who know any person involved in the case, who have information about the case, or who may have strong prejudices about the people or issues involved in the case, typically will be excused by the judge. The attorneys also may exclude a certain number of jurors without giving a reason.


Part I

The losing party in a decision by a trial court in the federal system is entitled as a matter of right to appeal the decision to a federal court of appeals. Similarly, a litigant who is not satisfied with a decision made by a federal administrative agency in the executive branch usually may file a petition for review of the agency decision by a court of appeals. Judicial review in cases involving certain federal agencies or programs for example, disputes over Social Security benefits may be obtained first in a district court rather than directly to a court of appeals.

In a civil case either side may appeal the verdict. In a criminal case, the defendant may appeal a guilty verdict, but the government may not appeal if a defendant is found not guilty. Either side in a criminal case may appeal with respect to the sentence that a judge imposes after a guilty verdict.

In most bankruptcy courts, an appeal of a ruling by a bankruptcy judge may be taken to the district court. In several circuits, a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel consisting of three bankruptcy judges has been established to hear appeals directly from the bankruptcy courts. In either situation, the party that loses in the initial bankruptcy appeal may then appeal further to the court of appeals. Most appeals from decisions of magistrate judges are taken to a district judge. But when a magistrate judge tries a case on consent of the parties, an appeal may be taken directly to the court of appeals.

A litigant who files an appeal, known as an "appellant", must show that the trial court or administrative agency made a legal error that affected the decision in the case. The court of appeals makes its decision based on the record of the case established by the trial court or agency. It does not receive additional evidence or hear witnesses. The court of appeals also may review the factual findings of the trial court or agency, but typically may only overturn a decision on factual grounds if the findings were "clearly erroneous". The appellate court may not hear new evidence, but may "remand" the case to the trial court for that purpose.

Appeals are decided by panels of three judges working together. The appellant presents legal arguments to the panel, in writing, in a document called a "brief". In the brief, the appellant tries to persuade the judges that the trial court made an error, and that its decision should be reversed. On the other hand, the party defending against the appeal, known as the "appellee", tries in its brief to show why the trial court decision was correct, or why any error made by the trial court was not significant enough to affect the outcome of the case.

Although some cases are decided on the basis of the litigants briefs through short written decisions by the court, many cases are selected for an "oral argument" before the court. Oral argument in the court of appeals is a structured discussion between the appellate lawyers and the panel of judges focusing on the legal principles in dispute. Each side is given a short time usually about 15 minutes to present argumentsto the court.

The court will usually state the reasons for its decision in a written opinion. A judge on the panel who disagrees with the majority opinion may write a separate dissenting opinion. The dissenting opinion may help the analysis of the issues if the case is reviewed at a higher level.

The court of appeals decision usually will be the final word in the case, unless it sends the case back to the trial court for additional proceedings, the parties ask the United States Supreme Court to review the case. In some cases the decision of the three-judge panel of the court may be reviewed en banc, that is, by a larger group of judges (usually all) of the court of appeals for the circuit.


Part II

A litigant who loses in a federal court of appeals, or in the highest court of a state court system, may petition the United States Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court, however, does not have to grant review, except in a very small number of cases governed by special statutes. In a given year, the Court will typically receive about 8,000 petitions for certiorari, and it will agree to hear only about 100 cases.

The Supreme Court typically will agree to hear a case only when it involves an unusually important legal principle, or when two or more federal appellate courts have interpreted a law differently. There are also a small number of special circumstances in which the Supreme Court is required by law to hear a case or accept an appeal directly from a federal trial court. When the Supreme Court hears a case, the parties are required to file written briefs and the Court may hear oral argument. Additionally, other parties with significant interests in the legal issues raised by a case may ask permission to file briefs as friends of the court ("amicus curiae"). The executive branch, acting through the Solicitor General, will often file such briefs, which may help to define the issues and otherwise affect the outcome of a case.

The Supreme Court, like the lower courts, usually explains the reasons for its decision on a case in a written opinion. Supreme Court opinions are precedent for all other courts in the United States. As with the courts of appeals, justices who disagree with the majority opinion may write dissenting opinions. In some cases, justices who agree with the result in a case but not in the majoritys reasoning will file concurring opinions.


Crime is a very complex issue and often difficult to understand. It easy to understand a criminal fact profit; a man wants something, so he takes it. The real question is, why did one man steal and not the other? Why do some people in a society commit: crimes and not others? What makes a criminal? Was it the way they were raised, or was it predestined by birth? There are many theories that offer explanations of criminal behavior. First we must define what a law is and from where laws originate.

Law may be defined as legal written prohibition of some act or utterance or a legal written requirement that some act or utterance be performed. The goal of the law is to regulate peopleso that they can live in the society without chaos and under the best possible circumstances.

Although social groups vary in the degree of tolerance, they demand conformity to some norms. In the absence of such demands, groups would not exist because of resulting anarchy. The mechanisms used to demand conformity to the norms (rules/laws) occur in the following manner:

- Positive sanctions: medal, prizes, merits, money, etc.

- Negative sanctions: punishments (fines, demerits, imprisonment).

We can say that some behavior is criminal only because it is defined as criminal by the government, even though the behavior is not harmful to the society in general, but is viewed by the majority as unacceptable or bad behaviour.

Crime may be defined as an act committed in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Society outlaws certain acts for a number of reasons, to protect life and property, protect individual freedoms, preserve the system of government, maintain the morality of the community.

Criminal behavior may be definedas the actions or in actions of individual or a group which are harmful to law. Criminal behavior generally requires deliberate criminal intention.

Abnormal behavior is not necessarily criminal, however, criminal behavior is always outside the range of socially accepted behavior.



Criminal behavior reasoning

There are as many reasons for criminal behavior as there are people. Scientists have been trying to answer the question of why people become criminals for over 2,000 years. We will look at seven of the major theories which have been developed to explain why people become criminals. It is easy to see that the reasons for criminal behavior are very complex.

Each society determines what behavior will not be allowed. Laws are made to control the behavior of members of that society and the police are hired to enforce those laws. An act is a crime because the law says that the act is a crime. A person who breaks societys laws is labeled a criminal and punished as such.

Laws are made because the people in power need to restrict the acts of the members of society. Criminal behavior theories are often used by lawmakers consciously or subconsciously as a model to reduce crime. Many of our ideas about crime and punishment result from these theories. By understanding criminal behavior, police officers can better understand the criminal justice system.

Seven theories of possible causes of criminal behavior include:

The spiritualism theory which stressed the conflict between good and evil and believed that devil forced the individual to commit the crime.

The classical school theory which was established by an Italian mathematician and economist Marchese de Beccaria, who believed in "Free Will", i.e. an individual knew what he wanted to do and his behavior was guided by hedonism, pleasure or pain principle.

The conflict theory which focus attention on struggles between individuals and groups. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels saw the problem of crime in economics and believed that capitalism caused crimes.

The labeling theory which says that the state defines what behavior is against the law and offenders are labeled as criminals by the criminal justice system. It results for them in: loss of social status, loss of respect, difficulty to get good employment. In other words labeling and treating lawbreakers as criminals create the very behavior the state is trying to prevent.

The control theory which implies that social order is maintained because parents, schools, teachers, churches, and other social authorities teach conformity to the children. However conform cannot be taken for granted and nonconformity, such as crime, is to be expected when the social controls are not effective.

The genetic theory which believes that individuals chromosomes may predestine him to criminal behavior. Some men are born with an extra "Y" chromosome which makes them more likely to be convicted of crimes.

Mental ilness theory stating that some forms of mental ilnesses may contribute to criminal behavior, among which: pyromania, kleptomania, sociopath (drug and alcohol abusers, pathological liars, serial killers etc).


Criminal proceedings begin with bringing the charge. The charge must set forth the time, date and place of the alleged criminal act as well as the nature of the charge. Crimes of a serious nature, such as murder or treason, may be charged, by indictment only.

When a criminal action is instituted, the clerk of the court issues a warrant for the arrest of the person charged. A person who is arrested must be brought before a magistrate or justice of the peace with the least possible delay. Many jurisdictions permit law enforcement officials to hold a person without a formal charge up to 24 hours for purposes of investigation. The defendant formally charged with a crime is entitled to an attorney at all times.

If the individual charged with a crime requests a preliminary hearing before a magistrate, the court will set a hearing within a reasonably short time. At the hearing the state must present sufficient evidence to convince the magistrate there is reason to believe the defendant has committed the crime with which he is charged. The defendant must be present at this hearing, but he may or may not present evidence on his own behalf.

If the magistrate believes the evidence is sufficient, he will order the defendant bound over the trial in the proper court. On the other hand, the magistrate may dismiss the charge and order the defendant released if he concludes the state has failed to produce sufficient evidence in the preliminary hearing.

In most instances a criminal case is placed on the courts calendar for arraignment. On the date fixed, the accused appears, the indictment is read to him, his rights are explained by the judge, and he is asked whether he pleads guilty or not guilty to the charge. If he pleads not guilty, his case will be set later for trial; if he pleads guilty, it ordinarily will be set later for sentencing. In cases of minor offences, sentences may be imposed immediately. But in some states, plea and arraignment are separate proceedings, held on different days.

Very careful preparation on the part of the prosecution and the defence precedes the trial. The defence attorney may file a demurrer or motion for dismissal. In preparing for trial, attorneys for both sides will interview prospective witnesses, secure expert evidence, and gather testimony concerning ballistics, chemical tests and other similar data.


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