As stated in criminal law, crimes are offenses facing the civil order. In common law jurisdictions, there is a legal imagination that crimes disrupt the order of the sovereign. Government officials, as agents of the sovereign, are in charge of the prosecution of criminals. Therefore, the criminal law "plaintiff" is the sovereign, which in practical terms converts into the king or the people.
The biggest goal of criminal law is prevention and punishment, during the time civil law is individual compensation. Crimes consist of two different aspects; the physical act (the actus reus, guilty act) and the requisite mental state with which the act is done (the mens rea, guilty mind). For example, in murder the 'actus reus is the unlawful killing of a person, while the 'mens rea is malice aforethought (the intention to kill or cause grievous injury). The criminal law also details the defenses that defendants may bring to lessen or negate their liability (criminal responsibility) and specifies the punishment which may be inflicted. Criminal law neither requires a victim, nor a victim's consent, to prosecute an offender. Furthermore, a criminal prosecution can occur over the objections of the victim and the consent of the victim is not a defense in most crimes.
Criminal law in most jurisdictions both in the common and civil law traditions is divided into two fields:
* Criminal procedure regulates the process for addressing violations of criminal law
* Substantive criminal law details the definition of, and punishments for, various crimes.
Criminal law distinguishes crimes from civil wrongs such as tort or breach of contract. Criminal law has been seen as a system of regulating the behavior of individuals and groups in relation to societal norms at large whereas civil law is aimed primarily at the relationship between private individuals and their rights and obligations under the law. Although many ancient legal systems did not clearly define a distinction between criminal and civil law, in England there was little difference until the codification of criminal law occurred in the late nineteenth century. In most U.S. law schools, the basic course in criminal law is based upon the English common criminal law of 1750 (with some minor American modifications like the clarification of mens rea in the Model Penal Code).
Types of criminal law are: Arrests and Searches, Drug Crimes, Juvenile Law, Drunk Driving / DUI / DWI , Parole, Probation, Pardons, Violent Crimes, White Collar Crimes and Military Law.