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Criminology Class, Fall 1999

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: September 13, 1999
E-Mail Curran or Takata.

Criminology Lecture Notes
September 12, 1999

Crime and Criminal Law

Criminal law defined
-- crime begins with the law
-- criminal law is the product of a political process

Sutherland and Cressey identified the essential characteristics of criminal law
-- politicality
-- specificity
-- uniformity
-- penal sanction

Consensus, Conflict and Labeling View of Law

-- Consensus: law exists for and functions in order to secure the common good
-- Conflict: law exists for and enhances the goals of only some members of society
-- Labeling: law exists as societal reactions and the work of moral entrepreneurs

Law form--------------------Harm caused---------------------------Action Taken

civil law----------------------private----------------------------------compensation

criminal law------------------public-----------------------------------punishment

procedural law--------------violation of rights------------------------reversal of conviction

Felony vs. misdemeanor

felony - murder, rape, robbery; maximum term of confinement is greater than one year
misdemeanor - assault & battery, petty larceny, disturbing the peace; typically a short term of confinement (about one year or less)

Some points to think about:

1) Edwin Sutherland: "When the mores of a society are adequate, laws are unnecessary; and when the mores are inadequate, laws are useless."

2) Criminal law provides a standard and excuse for defining another's behavior as criminal (but actually the application of law is the far more central problem than the formation of law).