There are numerous areas of law that are designed to regulate behavior within society, and understanding the purpose of these multifarious areas can sometimes be confusing. For example, many people wonder what the purpose of criminal law is. Criminal law is quite important, and its purpose is twofold. First, criminal law is the avenue by which public morality is expressed. Second, criminal law is used to set boundaries within society. Criminal law provides for the punishment of those that violate established societal morals and rules by taking some type of legal action against these individuals. Legal actions may include things such as imprisonment, probation, community service, or fines.
To further understand what is the purpose of criminal law, it is necessary to distinguish between statutory law and case law. Case law is also known as common law. Statutory laws are those laws that are legislated by local, state, or federal governments. Case laws or common laws are those rules or regulations that have been passed down for many generations. Both statutory law and common law define what behaviors are considered acceptable and unacceptable by society. One of the main purposes of any law is to deter individuals from committing or engaging in those behaviors deemed unacceptable by society. When individuals violate societal laws, statutory law and common law can be used to determine the legal actions to be taken against the individual based on their offense.
To summarize the answer to the question what is the purpose of criminal law, this law's purpose is to establish rules and boundaries within society and punish those that violate these societal regulations. Based on the nature of the offense, criminal law can dictate whether the individual responsible for the violation should be imprisoned or rehabilitated. Without criminal law, which is also sometimes referred to as penal law, individuals would face no consequences for violating commonly held and accepted public morals or rules.