What is the Main Objective of Criminal Law?


What is the Main Objective of Criminal Law?

Five key areas of sentencing in criminal law;


The definition of retribution in criminal justice as stated by:

http://thelawdictionary.org/article/definition-of- retribution-in- criminal-justice/

“Retribution is the heart of just about all judicial systems that deal with law and order. To the extent that punishment is supposed to fit the crime, retributive justice can be distinguished from revenge in the sense that defendants are expected to give up something in return for the offenses they committed.”

In common terms this is not “eye for eye” revenge, but punishment imposed or sentenced for a criminal act committed by an individual or group of individuals which is calculated and determined through the process of a trial and delivered by a judgement or sentence of the court. Punishment which will usually involve the taking away of certain freedoms and rights in recompense. It will often take the form of incarceration in a prison. The length of incarceration will be determined by the seriousness of the criminal acts, the maximum penalty at law and other factors.


As one of the primary objectives of criminal law, the goal of deterrence is to discourage members of society from committing criminal laws for fear of punishment. Deterrence is only effective if the person has the reflective capacity to understand the consequences of committing a crime and the retribution which will be imposed if caught and convicted. Deterrence may be general or specific to an individual. In some cases the court may have regard to a person’s intellectual, psychological and medical circumstances and such matters may moderate the effect of deterrence importance of deterrence in the sentencing process.

One of the major obstacles for deterrence in criminal justice is that most crimes are committed without premeditation in the heat of the moment and therefore the thought of retribution and sentencing are not being considered at that precise moment. The aim of criminal justice to educate the greater community by demonstrating that no criminal act will go unpunished and those offending will be caught and punished.

Incapacitation (incarceration)

Incapacitation in the eyes of criminal justice is the restriction of a persons’ liberties and freedom as recompense for their criminal act. The process of incapacitation prevents persons once caught and convicted from committing any further crimes by removing them from society and restraining them in a purpose built facility. Criminal justice understands that the act of incapacitation cannot rectify crimes which have been committed however it does prevent future crimes from occurring.

The form of incapacitation will depend on the criminal acts which have been performed the seriousness and prevalence of the offence committed and can take the form of imprisonment or Community Correction Orders. The type of incapacitation is determined through the process of a trial and judgement and the criminal is sentenced accordingly. Many offences may not warrant incapacitation (imprisonment)


Rehabilitation is a central goal of the judicial and correctional systems. Once a person has been sentenced and convicted they are offered rehabilitative programs within the correctional facility. These are aimed at identifying addictions, injuries, mental illnesses and other obstacles which may have contributed to the criminal acts committed. Once identified professionals work with the prisoner in an aim to correct and redirect for a positive outcome. The ultimate aim of rehabilitation programs is that once prisoners have serviced their period of incarceration they can be reintegrated into the community to live harmoniously.

Rehabilitation programs vary in intensity, direction and style of treatment. They can be a long, costly and exhaustive process however the results speak for themselves.

Rehabilitation of offenders prior to sentencing may be taken into account by the court.


Restorative justice varies from conventional criminal justice in that is highlights that criminal acts which have been committed are not only against the state but that they have left a lasting effect on families and communities. The aim of restorative justice is to repair relationships have criminals accept accountability and feel remorse for the criminal acts and how these have affected the victims or family and community members.

Criminal law has been designed for a purpose and that is to combine the above mentioned areas in a cumulative process aimed at identifying, acknowledging, punishing and educating the greater community and would-be offenders of the consequences of their actions.

Slades and Parsons Solicitors are highly experienced in all aspects of criminal law. For further assistance please do not hesitate in contacting our office.