Objectives Of Criminal Law

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ThiefThe body of law relating to crime is criminal law. Criminal law enforces and regulates social conduct, in addition to prohibiting threats, harm or other element that endangers the health, safety and moral welfare of people within a jurisdiction. Criminal law also enforces punishment of offenders who violate laws.

Objectives of criminal law

In criminal law, specific objectives exist to enforce different degrees of crime. Criminal law, in fact, holds a distinction for having ‘uniquely serious consequences’ for offenders who fail to abide by the laws of their jurisdiction.

Modern consequences in criminal law commonly involve incarceration in jail or prison, government supervision or house arrest, fines, seizure of property and/or money from an offender. Physical punishment is prohibited in most jurisdictions around the world.

Jurisdictions around the world follow five objectives to enforce criminal law punishment: retribution, rehabilitation, restoration, incapacitation, deterrence and retribution. The value of each varies between different jurisdictions.


Retribution gives an offender a punishment equal to the crime they committed. Offenders essentially surrender their rights to take advantage of certain laws upon committing a crime. Therefore, an offender who commits a serious offense loses the right to be denied an equivalent sentencing, such as a lawful execution.


Deterrence imposes a suitable penalty upon an offender with the goal of discouraging them committing criminal behavior again. This consequence has an effect on society, with the goal of discouraging others from committing the same crimes as the offender.


Incapacitation keeps offenders away from society, protecting the general public from their disordered behavior. Prison sentences are the most common form of incapacitation today.


Rehabilitation is the act of turning an offender into a valuable member of the general public. The main goal is helping offenders learn their offending behavior was wrong, preventing further offenses in the future.


Restoration benefits the victim. It’s the act of repairing any injury inflicted to the victim by an offender. This form of justice is combined with other criminal law objectives to come to a conclusion for an offending suit.

Criminal law objectives and intent

Criminal law enforcement breaks crimes down into specific classes or degrees to assign an appropriate punishment.

Most offenses, however, are defined as mala in se and mala prohibita laws. Mala in se crimes are generally felonies, immoral acts, property crimes and corrupt acts performed by public officials. Mala prohibita refers to offenses without ‘wrongfulness’ associated with the act, such as jaywalking and parking in a restricted area.

Using the objectives and aforementioned classifications, law enforcement officials are able to provide a suitable punishment for most offenses.