Discussion and thought questions
1. Explain the functions of criminal law in our society.
The law in our society has four principal purposes and functions they are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. Criminal law is mainly an outline of what is acceptable in our society.
2. Why is the classification of crimes important?
It allows more flexibility in the justice system. Without the classification, a crime of the 3rd degree could be treated the same as a crime of the 2nd or 1st and vice versa.
3. What factors may be considered by our lawmakers when they take up the reform of substantive criminal laws?
The current norms and morals of the society are the most important factors lawmakers will consider when reforming substantive criminal laws.
4. Contrast “moral values” and “criminal law.”
Criminal law is usually based at least somewhat on moral values and they are enforceable by punishment. Moral values, on the other hand, are not enforceable by the law unless legislation has been set in place to change that.
5. Explain the development of common law.
Until the late 19th century English common law continued to be developed by judges rather than legislators. In the United States, the colonies adopted English common law and it is still the most used system in the United States.
6. Why is the concept of stare decisis important?
Stare decisis is important because it allows courts to set a precedent and gives judges a standard to look at.
Hoke v. United States
This case was important because it allowed the state government to regulate prostitution inside of the state however, it gave Congress the right to regulate interstate prostitution. Most importantly it outlined that Congress could regulate interstate travel for purposes of prostitution or “immoral purposes.” Immoral being very broad on purpose to ensure that underage children were not being transported over state lines have sex with older men. Rather it is consensual or non-consensual the words, “immoral purposes” allows them to prosecute either way. It is somewhat an abuse of the court system and it should be studied due to its significance for setting precedent on many things.
Questions in Review
1. What constitutes criminal behavior?
Criminal behavior is a wrong against society such as rape, murder, and theft. In contrast, a tort is a civil wrong against a private person(s). Some crimes can be pursued criminally or civilly.
2. What types of conduct constitute the crime of treason?
Treason is the crime of betrayal to one’s country. Such as spying or attempting to overthrow the current administration, etcetera.
3. Explain the purposes of “police powers.”
It allows the states to make laws to regulate those living within state borders. They were mainly created out of the fear of the federal government obtaining too much power over the general populous.
4. Explain the importance of the Model Penal Code.
The Model Penal Code was created to standardize and organize state criminal code. Many States have since changed their laws to conform more with this code. Before this most states had terrible codes and did not clearly define laws.
5. What constitutes stare decisis?
Stare decisis is Latin for “to stand by things decided.” It is the ability of the courts to set precedent. For instance, the Hoke v. United States case set precedent for all cases involving transportation of people over state lines for immoral purposes.
6. How does case law differ from statutory law?
Case law is established by stare decisis while statutory laws are sat in place by legislation.