Sources of Criminal Law

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Understanding criminal law requires some knowledge about the sources of criminal law. These sources include constitutions, statutes, ordinances and regulations, common law, and the Model Penal Code. The U.S. Constitution, which is the highest form of law in our country, sets limits on the nature and extent of criminal law that the government can enact and serves as a guard of personal liberties. Common law still has an influence on today’s legal system. For instance, many state legislatures have a specific provision that recognizes the enforceability of common law through its courts, provided that the law is not inconsistent with the Constitution or laws of that state. In addition, the common law provides a persuasive authority in the interpretation of the criminal law. The Model Penal Code is a code of criminal laws intended to standardize general provisions of criminal liability, sentencing, defenses, and the definitions of specific crimes between and among the states. The Model Penal Code is not a law and has no binding effect. Rather, it is designed to serve as a model code of criminal law for all states.

After reviewing the different sources of criminal law, select two sources of criminal law. Then, in your main post, complete the following:

  • Explain how the two sources of criminal law you selected contributed to the evolution of modern criminal law.
  • Articulate a working example of each source of law to illustrate your point.
  • Explore how social and legal aspects come into play in the context of your selections and the development of criminal law in modern day society.

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