Criminal law is the body of the law that looks to define criminal offences and regulate a suspected person’s apprehension and trial. On the other hand, criminal law also outlines the penalties and how the convicted persons are treated.

Through criminal law, the state can ensure that the rights of any person accused of a crime and ensure that they are judged rightly. On the other hand, criminal law as a tool also helps protect the whole community’s securities and right as a whole.

There are four main principles of criminal law. In this article, we are going to discuss them all in detail. These principles of criminal law include the following;

Burden Of Proof

Understand that in the United States halls of justice, it is never the defendant’s job to establish that they are innocent. This job falls squarely on the shoulders of the prosecution. The law states that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This means that the prosecution is charged with the responsibility of establishing the guilt of the defendant.

That being said, the prosecution has to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond any reasonable doubt. This is means that it must be apparent that the defendant is guilty of the offence. If there is even a single shred of doubt, then there is no way the defendant will be found guilty of the said offence.

It is also important to point out that this rule mainly applies to criminal trials. However, there are cases where the defendant can provide some evidence that points out their innocence. Regardless, this applies up to a certain degree.

Right to Remain Silent

You have most likely heard cops telling this line to anyone they capture on any show available on TV today. The shows are not wrong. No one is required to answer the questions that a police officer asks them. However, it is also important to point out that there are exceptions to this principle.

An officer of the law is allowed to request the address and name of a person who has committed or is suspected of having committed an offence. The officer is also allowed to ask the same of anyone who has information that can help investigate a committed or suspected offence.

Understand that under these circumstances, if the person gives a false ID and address or refuses to do so, they automatically commit an offence. This is not a joke. It is an offence way more severe than getting an essay writer to draft your paper while in college.

The Main Principles of Criminal Law

Double Jeopardy

This criminal law principle is a rule that states that no person can be punished more than once for a single offence committed. If a person has already served time for a given crime or has been acquitted, they cannot be punished again for the same offence.

On the other hand, the double jeopardy principle also holds that no person shall be put in jeopardy twice. It means that no one shall be placed at risk of being convicted for the same offence twice. However, two scenarios counteract this principle. Here are the scenarios where a person might have to be retried for the same offence;

  • Where fresh evidence that was not provided in the first trial is uncovered. However, understand that this evidence has to be compelling and from a reliable source
  • Where the defendant was acquitted due to perjury

Presumption OF Innocence

Under our justice system, anyone charged for any offence is presumed to be innocent until enough evidence is brought before the magistrate and the jury to prove otherwise. No matter how the case may look, both the magistrate and the jury cannot pass any judgment on the defendant.

On the other hand, understand that any evidence presented regarding the defendant’s guilt needs to prove this fully. Where there is any doubt that the defendant is guilty, then he or she must be acquitted.

This principle is one of the main pillars of our justice system. It is essential for you to understand that simply because a person has been charged with an offence in a court of law does not automatically mean that the person is guilty. We have to follow the given process, try them, and then prove that they are guilty. Failure to do this leads to the acquittal of the said individual.

The Main Principles of Criminal Law

This blog was created to simplify the four main principles of criminal law. Understand that all the information presented here has been simplified to make it easily understandable to those who do not fathom the law’s language.


Gar O'brien