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What Is Meant by Criminal Law? Classifications, Terms, and Much More

What Is Meant by Criminal Law
What Is Meant by Criminal Law

What is meant by criminal law is one of the common questions that are challenging to answer or provide information with. Crime is an action with a good or bad intention and results in violating the rights of individuals or entities.

You do not have to be a bad person to commit a crime. Most activists protest to attract attention to something meaningful but most of the time they also commit a crime. Thus, it is important to know the answer to what is meant by the criminal law question.

So, if you want to stay away from trouble, then you need to check this guide.

What Is Meant by Criminal Law?

Well, then what is meant by criminal law? Every government has its own laws to maintain peace within its country. The ones that are designed to prevent crime or decide on the outcome of the committed crimes are considered criminal law.

Besides criminal law focusing on deciding what will happen to the person who commits a crime, it also covers other aspects. For example, the same law will also determine the rights of the criminals so that they will not be discriminated against as human beings.

Also, criminal laws may vary from one country to another but they are all the same at their core.

What Is Crime?

So, before learning what is meant by criminal law, you need to learn the definition of crime as well. Although the definition may vary depending on countries, the most basic definition of crime is the event or events defined in criminal law.

In other words, crime is the set of events that cause material or mental damage to one person or entity and are prohibited by criminal law. As these events may be the result of intentional action, they can be because of unintentional action as well.

Sometimes, people commit a crime without even knowing that they are committing a crime.

What Are Crime Classifications?

The degree of the crime may vary depending on various factors and events. In addition to this, there are also crime classifications we need to know to understand the answer to what is meant by criminal law questions better.

Thus, we are going to provide three classifications of crime in the United States. Although these classifications are universal, some countries or governments may have different classifications. It is also worth noting that some cultural differences also determine what is a crime or not.

Thus, it is safe to say that although crime is a universal concept, it is also a bit cultural as well.


Infractions can be considered violations that do not have any fatal consequences. However, violating some rules may disturb the overall safety of the community. Therefore, such violations are also considered a crime and punished by the government. These rules are designed to ensure the safety and peace of the community and are protected by criminal law.

Most people wondering what is meant by criminal law usually commit infractions. For example, traffic violations are considered in this group. The penalty for committing this crime is usually fined and you do not imprison.

Of course, committing such crimes too often may result in imprisonment or suspension of your driver’s license.


Misdemeanors may result in the imprisonment of the person but this imprisonment usually does not take a year. They are less serious crimes compared to felonies and in general, the sufferer does not experience any fatal damage or injuries.

Most of the time, the damage is monetary but you still need to know about these crimes if you want to learn what is meant by criminal law.

Some examples of these crimes can include careless driving, vandalism, and theft. On the other hand, if you repeat committing the same crime over and over again, then it can be also considered a felony, which we are going to cover next.


Felony is the most serious crime classification that results in imprisonment, which takes more than a year. Such crimes often include offenses that lead to serious physical damage or injury to the victim.

Most people wondering about what is meant by criminal law often find such crimes as a result of their research. A crime does not have to be fatal to be considered in this group. Crimes such as mortgage fraud are also felonies.

Some other common examples of a felony include assault or murder with a deadly weapon. Criminal law has certain definitions and practices for felonies and actions to prevent rehappening of them.

What Are the Types of Criminal Offenses?

Most of the time, we hear about criminal offenses. Understanding them can also help us to understand what is meant by criminal law. Besides criminal offenses, there are also criminal defenses as well.

However, to keep it simple, we are not going to cover them in this guide. We would like to note that you need to hire an attorney whenever you are going to be accused of committing a crime.

Believing that you are a hundred percent innocent may not be enough for you to prove that you actually are. In such cases, working with professionals can save you from many unwanted consequences.

Crime Against an Individual

Now you know what is meant by criminal law and let’s check different types of crimes. Such as committing a crime against an individual. this is most of the time considered a felony and will result in imprisonment.

It is possible to divide this into two groups violent crimes and homicide. Although the crime may include one event, the person who commits it can be charged or accused of different types of homicide.

Some common crimes in this category include statutory rape, rape, kidnapping, domestic abuse, child abuse, arson, battery, and assault. Even if the victim may not file a complaint about the incident, the person who commits these will be charged by the government.

Crime Against a Property

Well, one of the most common topics that most people neglect when wondering what is meant by criminal law is the crime against property. A crime does not have to be an event, where a real person suffers.

Any damage to property that does not belong to you can also be considered a crime. As a result of this event, physical or mental harm may occur to the property or property owners. Moreover, the owner may also lose enjoyment or use of the property.

Some common crimes in this category include shoplifting, auto theft, robbery, larceny, and burglary. In short, all theft crimes are considered in this group.

Inchoate Crime

If you wonder what is meant by criminal law, then you also need to know that an action does not necessarily be completed to be considered a crime. Such actions are considered inchoate crimes and the person who commits them can still be charged with a wide range of crimes.

Of course, intention matters a lot here. The person must have an intention to commit a crime but then later does not complete it due to various reasons. It is worth noting that depending on the case, inchoate crimes can be punished to the same degree as the actual crime.

Some common crimes in this category include conspiracy, attempt, and abetting. In fact, these are not crimes but the processes of committing a crime.

Statutory Crime

As the name of this classification suggests, these crimes are related to the status of the person or victim. This is also an important term that you need to know if you wonder what is meant by criminal law.

These crimes are also divided into different groups within the category. These are financial or white-collar crimes, traffic offenses, drug crimes, and alcohol-related crimes. They often do not lead to serious damage but they all disturb the peace of society and violate the laws.

Some common crimes in this category include refusing to provide a blood sample or performing a field sobriety test, supplying, or selling alcohol to those who do not reach legal age, or possession alcohol by those who are not of legal age.

Financial Crime

This is the last offensive crime in our what is meant by criminal law guide. These crimes can be considered a felony depending on their size. Most of the time, they involve fraud or deception with the purpose of financial gain.

Some common crimes in this category include cybercrime, tax evasion, money laundering, embezzlement, blackmail, and fraud. As you can see a financial crime does not necessarily include financial gain but an attempt for financial gain is considered in this group.

Of course, it can lead to imprisonment for more than a year. In case you will be charged or accused of committing a crime, you need to take this seriously because it will be recorded on your criminal history.

In such cases, we recommend working with professionals to drop the charges. Thus, you may want to search for a criminal attorney near me to find professionals in your area.

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