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CRIMINAL LAW



Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. Civil cases, on the other hand, involve individuals and organizations seeking to resolve legal disputes. In a criminal case the state, through a prosecutor, initiates the suit, while in a civil case the victim brings the suit. Persons convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both. However, persons found liable in a civil case may only have to give up property or pay money, but are not incarcerated.

A "crime" is any act or omission (of an act) in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Though there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws vary significantly from state to state. There is, however, a Model Penal Code (MPC), which serves as a good starting place to gain an understanding of the basic structure of criminal liability.

Crimes include both felonies (more serious offenses – like murder or rape) and misdemeanors (less serious offenses – like petty theft or jaywalking). Felonies are usually crimes punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than a year. However, no act is a crime if it has not been previously established as such either by statute or by common law. Recently, the list of Federal crimes, dealing with activities extending beyond state boundaries or having special impact on federal operations, has grown.

All statutes describing criminal behavior can be broken down into their various elements. Most crimes consist of two elements: an act, or "actus reus", and a mental state, or "mens rea". Prosecutors have to prove each and every element of the crime to yield a conviction. Furthermore, the prosecutor must persuade the jury or judge "beyond a reasonable doubt" of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged. In civil cases, the plaintiff needs to show a defendant is liable only by a "preponderance of the evidence", or more than 50%.

TEXT B

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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Within a broad spectrum of cultural and historical variations, crime constitutes the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under the criminal law. Most countries have enacted a criminal code in which all of the criminal law can be found, although English law – the source of many other criminal law systems – remains uncodified. The definitions of particular crimes contained in a code must be interpreted in the light of many principles, some of which are not expressed in the code itself. The most important of these are related to the mental state of the accused person at the time of the act that is alleged to constitute a crime. Crimes are classified by most legal systems for purposes such as determining which court has authority to deal with the case. Social changes often result in the adoption of new criminal laws and the obsolescence of older ones.

The purpose of punishing offenders has been debated for centuries. A variety of often conflicting theories are held, and in practice each is followed to some extent.

Prison is not the most common penalty for crime – a wide variety of punishments that do not involve incarceration have developed, including financial sanctions, such as fines, and schemes for service to the community, in general, or to the victim, in particular. Juveniles are usually dealt with by courts set aside exclusively for the prosecution of young offenders.

The prison systems of most countries are subject to many problems, especially overcrowding, but the recognition by some legal systems that prisoners have rights that the courts can enforce has led to some improvements. The death penalty is now rare in Western countries, although it has been reinstated in some parts of the United States after a period of disuse.

UNIT 12

' CONVERSATION

– Hi! How are you?

– I'm O.K., thanks. And you?

– Just fine. I haven't seen you for a long time. Where have you been?

– On business in England. I spent two months there and got to know many interesting things.

– Will you tell me anything?

– Certainly. With great pleasure.

– Hi! Where are you going?

– To the reading hall!

– But why are you so angry?

– Sorry! The fact is, I am in a hurry and you are the fifth who talks to me on my way.

– Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't know that! Bye!

– See you!

 


± FOCUS ON GRAMMAR AND PRACTICE

MODAL VERBS МОДАЛЬНЫЕ ГЛАГОЛЫ
WILL, SHALL, MAY, MIGHT, CAN, COULD, MUST, OUGHT (TO), SHOULD, WOULD

Will

Личное предсказание

I don't think the Queen will support them.

I doubt if I'll stay here much longer.

Уверенность (настоящее время)

I'm sure you will understand that there is nothing the Department can do.

There's a letter for you. It'll be from the bank: they said they'd be writing.

Уверенность (будущее время)

I won't be in the office until 11; I've got a meeting.

Don't bother ringing: they'll have left for their 10 o'clock lecture.

Принятие решения

For the main course I'll have grilled tuna.

I'm very tired. I think I'll stay at home tonight.

Вежливая просьба

Will you open the window, please? It's very hot in here.

Sign this, will you?

Предложение сделать что-то

You stay there! I'll fetch the drinks.

Настойчивость, типичное поведение

I'm not surprised you don't know what to do! You will keep talking in class.

Damn! My car won't start. I'll have to call the garage.

Обещание или угроза

You can count on me! I'll be there at 8 o'clock sharp.

If you don't finish your dinner off, you'll go straight to bed!

Shall

Предложение сделать что-то (в вопросах)

Shall I fetch you another glass of wine?

Shall we go to the cinema tonight?





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