The Scope And Nature Of The Criminal Law

The Scope and Nature of​ the​ Criminal Law
In our private lives,​ the​ area of​ law we​ will experience the​ most,​ either directly or​ indirectly would have to​ be the​ criminal law .​
Not necessarily through contravening its principals,​ the​ individual citizen will more commonly encounter its breadth in​ the​ course of​ their everyday lives,​ considering as​ a​ factor the​ legal ramifications of​ any desired conduct or​ decision in​ the​ decision making process .​
For most of​ us,​ we​ tend to​ live our lives within these predetermined boundaries with no second thought or​ question as​ to​ the​ morality of​ the​ prohibited option nor the​ moral authority behind it .​
In this article,​ it​ is​ proposed to​ look at​ the​ nature and scope of​ the​ criminal law in​ our society,​ and to​ discuss whether as​ an​ entity it​ is​ too intrusive,​ or​ whether it​ is​ naturally a​ required aspect of​ regulating society.
It is​ often said academically that the​ citizen enjoys freedom to​ act as​ he wishes in​ his life,​ subject to​ the​ regulatory provisions of​ the​ criminal law and the​ criminal justice system .​
It is​ thought that as​ citizens of​ a​ particular country,​ largely at​ freedom to​ choose where we​ live in​ the​ world,​ we​ impliedly accept the​ authority of​ the​ relevant legal provisions which,​ for the​ most part,​ regulate on​ a​ moral level .​
Of course there are exceptions,​ i.e .​
criminal laws of​ a​ regulatory or​ secondary nature which do not directly bear any moral message,​ such as​ speeding limits or​ parking restrictions .​
So,​ then,​ to​ what extent does the​ criminal law reflect morality,​ and further from what source is​ this morality derived?
The criminal law is​ said to​ operate in​ mind of​ the​ public good,​ and the​ benefit of​ society .​
It could,​ therefore,​ be argued to​ be crossing the​ boundaries into serious restrictions on​ liberty when it​ regulates personal conduct like drug use which may not have any wider impact than on​ that of​ the​ person indulging accordingly .​
Why should the​ criminal law impose restrictions on​ what a​ person can do with his or​ her own body? Surely our own freewill is​ a​ good enough justification for acting outwith the​ scope of​ the​ law in​ these types of​ scenario?
Furthermore an​ interesting area of​ the​ criminal law is​ potential liability for omissions .​
In this sense,​ the​ citizen can actually be punished without acting at​ all in​ a​ specific way .​
This takes the​ criminal law beyond a​ regulatory framework for the​ public good into an​ actual coercive force to​ make people positively act in​ a​ certain way .​
For example,​ in​ some jurisdictions there is​ a​ legal duty to​ report a​ road traffic accident .​
This means a​ citizen who is​ aware of​ the​ occurrence of​ such will have committed a​ criminal offence where he does not act in​ the​ prescribed manner .​
Again,​ this is​ surely affording a​ broad scope to​ the​ criminal law,​ which may be seen by some as​ intruding on​ the​ fundamental freedoms and values upon which most modern nations were built.
It is​ interesting to​ consider the​ real impact of​ the​ criminal law,​ and the​ sheer breadth of​ conduct it​ regulates .​
From the​ objectively morally wrong to​ the​ less obvious cases of​ imposition of​ liability,​ the​ criminal law places severe restrictions on​ the​ general principal of​ absolute liberty,​ which is​ clearly the​ subject of​ much academic and philosophical debate.

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