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The subchapters tend to follow similar structures, with the punishment in each case being discussed at the very end.
Chapter 10 refers to crimes against habitation, notably criminal acts such as burglary or arson. The conditions for a criminal act of this nature to occur are discussed, as well as the different statutes that regulate the legal framework for each of these situations and the punishments applicable. Important restrictions apply in each cases, for example, the fact that an individual cannot, from a legal point-of-view, burglarize his own home.
Chapter 11 deals with a particular form of crimes against property, namely those acquisitions offenses, crimes where there is a wrongful acquisition of property involved. Most such criminal acts are categorized as theft. Larceny, embezzlement or robbery are just a few of the most representative forms of acquisition offenses. One of the interesting subchapters regards receiving stolen property, with the mention that there was no criminal liability for receiving stolen goods in the past, but it is prosecuted nowadays if the person receiving the property knows that the property was stolen.
Chapter 12 refers to offenses against government, mostly with treason. The offense of treason is usually a criminal act is someone who owes allegiance has had the intention to betray (and has acted in that sense). There are also several treason like crimes, like rebellion, which is a federal offense.
Chapter 13 discusses several offenses against the judicial system, such as perjury. Such criminal acts are acts directed against the judicial process and are prosecuted as such.
The first observation that needs to be made concerning Gilbert Law Summaries in Criminal Law is that, as all the other books in the Gilbert series, this is a complementary study aid, not necessarily one that should be used instead of the primary sources of information and study, but rather one that should be used to better understand some of the complex issues in the criminal law.
The book has a unitary, despite the occasional impression that it goes off into different directions from time to time. The reason for this is that the elements of criminal law are quite often sufficiently complex to make it necessary to go into detail on different subjects and to make connections with other legal areas of interest. Despite this characteristic, the book is able to hold the information together and dissipate it in an orderly manner to the reader.
As all the books in the series, the Criminal Law book is abundant in a wide variety of instruments and tools that simply make the studying process simpler and more efficient. A summary textbox or a reminder on the basic notion is often sufficient and useful in making sure that the most important notions covered in a certain subchapter remain in the reader's mind.
It is also important to point out that this is probably one of the best organized books of the series. The book is so logically structured, going from general to particular, that it helps the student understand the processes rather than just automatically go through the elements and learn by heart the component of criminal law. In this sense, the book starts by placing criminal law within the overall legislative and judicial framework. Primarily, the first chapters are interested in ensuring that the reader understands where criminal law is applied and how and, most important, how its applicability is limited by other laws, most importantly by the Constitution. The application of the Constitution and the rights that the Constitution guarantees for every individual means that a significant number of exceptions within the criminal law framework are created. The book does a good job of introducing the reader to all of these in the third chapter of the book.
It is logical that after explaining the applicability of criminal law, the book should then focus on the criminal act itself and should start with the elements that make up the criminal act. Some of the most important ones are the act itself (the action) and the intention, but, as always, the book is exhaustive in covering all different aspects that could relate to the elements of a criminal act. The book counterbalances the elements of the crime with potential defenses, basically linking defenses to the elements or rather proposing defense instruments that deny or doubt the elements of the criminal intent. It is interesting to note that the defense chapter is the most exhaustive one. Other than the fact that this addresses issues that lawyers can bring up when building their defenses, the respective chapter can also be interpreted as an exceptions chapter, many of the defenses being, in fact, build around such exceptions.
For example, there are details on how the age of the defendant can be the basis for a defense, if it falls, depending on the category of crime, below a certain age. Obviously, self-defense is another important defense mean. Some of these defenses are, most likely, quite different to argue, because the defender needs to be able to gather enough elements to prove that the certain situation is applicable and, at the same time, that the defendant was required to commit the respective criminal act in a situation like the protection of property. It looks easier to have infancy or insanity as defenses to be used, but something like the protection of property would need to show that the property was under threat by the victim when the criminal act was committed. What about the defense of others? How do you legitimize an act against a victim who had attacked or was in the process of attacking others, unless you are able to define the nature of that act and the underlying elements that involved the defendant?
The gravest form of criminal acts requires a separate chapter on homicide crimes, basically a criminal act by which the life of an individual has been severed. With homicide crimes, it is interesting to note that, because of the gravity of the criminal act, even cases where intent was not obvious or did not exist, are prosecuted, such as accidents, for example. The case of the homicide crimes is sufficiently complex to require a separate chart/textbox summary in which the general approach to homicide crimes is described.
On another note, the book also goes into property crimes and governmental crimes in the final chapters, including the crime of treason. As always, several examples and a detailed description of potential exceptions make the discussion clearer for the reader, albeit here it is not as exhaustive as in other cases. Despite a generous reference to the crimes against property and the crimes against habitation, one does get the impression that economic crimes are not as keenly analyzed as some of the other crimes that have been discussed in more detail (notably homicide crimes). Some of the potential financial crimes, for example, including using inside information, do not make the object of a separate discussion.
At the same time, it would have also been interesting to have a debate on how the new electronic environment and information technology has an impact on criminal activity. The fact that information travels so quickly should bring about questions ranging from defenses in cases where the computer was used or in relation to this to what type of defense is admissible. So, the book does not seem to have the necessary outlook into the future as to what challenges technology will…[continue]
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