Criminal law

Criminal law is intended to protect people from hurting one another. For this purpose, it comprises a series of norms which aim is to protect defined values, such as health, life, freedom, and material possessions from infringement by unauthorized persons.

Criminal regulations are included in many acts, although of course the majority of them can be found under the Criminal Code.

Criminal norms are constructed according to the following pattern; first the act which the prosecution believes to be criminal is described (the so-called norm`s hypothesis), and next the punishment for this act is defined (the so-called sanction).

In criminal law, somewhat similar to administrative law, there is a huge disproportion of strength between the individual who is an object of the interest of the authorities (the accused) and the apparatus of the state, mainly in the person of the prosecutor, who attempts to lead the case to a conviction. To ensure a fair trial and avoid abuse of criminal law, a number series of principles have been introduced which aim is to prevent the conviction of innocent people.

In order to convict a person in criminal proceedings, it is necessary for the act the individual is accused for to have been forbidden by law on pain of criminal penalties at the time that the act was committed. This principle is intended to ensureto all individuals, at least theoretically, the possibility of becoming familiar with applicable law. Thanks to this principle, each individual is able to act in accordance with the law and not commit crimes.

After establishing that a given act for which an individual has been accused was illegal at the time that it was committed, the prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused. This is the role of the public prosecutor, who collects evidence and attempts to reconstruct the course of events. Guilt means that the accused has broken the law in a situation in which it was possible to operate in compliance with the law.

To prove means that the prosecution must have evidence that the accused has committed the crime. This can consist of the testimony of witnesses (witness statements), documents, photos, audiovisual recordings, or the results of procedural experiments. In each case, the prosecution must show conclusive evidence, and supposition or opinion is not sufficient for a conviction.

In criminal proceedings, each side must prove their claims in order to win the case. The court performs a roleof an impartial arbiter and decides which party has presented stronger arguments to prove its thesis. Nonetheless the accused is not obliged to demonstrate innocence, as demonstration of innocence is most often impossible.

In order to demonstrate innocence, it would be necessary to constantly generate proof indicating that we have not committed a crime at any moment. Such a way of thinking would quickly lead to an absurd conclusion; therefore, legislators have clearly indicated that the burden is on the prosecution to prove the guilt. For the accused to win the case, it is enough to show that the prosecution has not demonstrated guilt. When this happens, the court is obliged to issue a verdict of not guilty.

Proof of guilt involves demonstrating that the accused has committed all of the features of the crime with which he or she is charged, and that in the actions of the accused were not committed in self-defense or were not a result of the state of necessity. Indications of a crime are a group of particular elements which combine to constitute a crime. For an effective conviction, it must be demonstrated that the accused indeed has met these requirements.