Criminal law is a vital element in every society because it ensures that there is safety, peace and order by protecting people and their property from criminals and rehabilitating offenders. Criminal law is the body of law that outlines criminal offenses and regulates the apprehension, charging, and trial of suspects. It also fixes penalties and methods of treatment applicable to convicted offenders (Jescheck & Norton, 2020). Criminal offenses must have substantial evidence which can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt by the prosecution. There are significant criminal laws that help the criminal justice agencies in protection of the society, protection of the offender and administering of punishment to offenders, these include: mens rea (guilty state of mind), actus reus (conduct), standard of proof and presumption of innocence.
Firstly, a criminal offense requires mens rea ,that is ; a conscious guilty state of mind. For this reason, the victim who lied to have been robbed and beaten should be convicted for consciously committing a crime by lying to the police officer so as to protect her abusive husband from being arrested. According to Jescheck & Norton, the Modern Panel Code and most states, a person is considered guilty when they act “purposely,” “knowingly,” “recklessly,” or “negligently.” Thus, the victim should be charged and convicted for deliberately concealing the fact that she was involved in an incident of domestic violence and instead, claimed to have been robbed with violence. Mens rea is therefore an important component of criminal law that guides the legal system in ensuring that the findings have accurate basis and that punishment is administered to crime offenders
Secondly, actus reus (voluntary criminal act or omission) is also an important feature in criminal law .Any voluntary human behavior such as shooting, moving or failure to move is an act that is enough clarity that the offender knew the outcome of their actions and did nothing about it. The individual who was shot is liable for an offense for failing to comply with the commands given by the police officer. He ought to have stopped but he continued to walk away, he did not keep his hands where the officer could see. His actions were suspicious which led to his shooting by the police. According to Fitzpatrick (1960), actus reus is an “effort” that manifests in what is seen in a criminal offense. Fitzpatrick states that conduct includes “manifested effort (‘act’) and an accompanying mental state” which is a voluntary, overt movement. Thus, and individuals’ actions and movements (acting or failure to act) is a basis of criminal law that can lead to criminal liability unless they are experiencing involuntary movements such as epileptic seizures and somnambulist before they wake up.
Thirdly, the standard of proof is another significant principle of criminal law. By shooting the person in white pants and dark shirt without any proof that goes beyond reasonable doubt, Officer Jones contrasts with the criminal law procedure of conviction (Rusdiana et.al, 2018). The police officer had no jurisdiction to shoot him without giving him a benefit of doubt to find out if the individual truly had a gun, the stolen wallet and a mask. As stated by the Rusdiana et.al, standard proof is the threshold that must be met by the prosecution in order to secure a conviction against the accused. Shooting an innocent person is a police misconduct that is clearly illustrated in the Eric Garner case. As alleged, Garner was selling illegal cigarettes on the street and was not threatening nor violent to the officers. They however attempted to arrest him and wrestled him to the ground and put him on chokehold when Garner when he said he could not breathe. They continued pressing his head on the ground and kept him in a chokehold which led to neck injuries and died due to compression. This case was considered to show police officers using illegal military exercises and excessive force. The officer who put Garner in a chokehold was stripped of his badge and gun. His supervisor was charged with failure to supervise and stripped of her badge and gun. Therefore, the police officer could end up losing his job for using excessive force on an individual who was not harmed.
Finally, presumption of innocence is another important code of criminal law .An accused individual is innocent until proven guilty no matter how weighty the offense is. The person who was shot was not guilty of robbing and beating the woman yet his innocence is proven long after damage he has been wounded and hospitalized; while on the other hand, the supposed robbery victim is the one who is guilty because she lied deliberately. The accused should be given prior notification of the charge against him and a fair opportunity to answer the charge against him in the presence of witnesses and counsel (Baldwin, 1912)
In conclusion, criminal law gives clear and systematic procedures in the delivery of justice to offenders through the criminal justice agencies. The important principles that guides the justice agencies comprise of mens rea, actus reus, standard of proof and presumption of innocence. The justice agencies also ensure that it bars harmful conduct in the society, rehabilitate criminals and prevent similar crimes from happening.