Learning Activities : Formazione interpreti e traduttori forensi

criminal law: an overview

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 common law. Recently, the list of Federal crimes dealing with activities extending beyond state boundaries or having special impact on federal operations, has grown. See Title 18.

All statutes describing criminal behavior can be broken down into their various elements. Most crimes (with the exception of strict-liability 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%.

Legal Terminology
Forensic means something relating to the law. The word derives from the Forum Romanum of ancient Rome and is used today to describe the scientific branch of criminal investigation that helps the police discover who has committed a crime. It uses techniques such as DNA profiling (l’uso del codice genetico come prova legale ) and fingerprinting (impronte digitali). When there is a suspicion that someone’s death was no natural, a forensic pathologist (medico legale) will carry out a medical examination on the corpse, called a post-mortem or autopsy.
From the  press
“Forces and Police continue without any break in the investigation to shed light on the murder of the little Andrea Loris Stival, eight year old child found dead November 29 in a gully near an old mill in the countryside of Santa Croce Camerina, a village in the province of Ragusa. Investigators are trying to reconstruct the route taken by the child’s mother, Veronica Panarello, through the various surveillance video arrived in the country. According to reports the path told by the mother of Loris would be unconvincing. Ms. Panarello though is adamant about his version of events: “I accompanied Loris at school and I left a short distance from the gate,” continues to reiterate the woman. But an egg detail emerged yesterday: six minutes too Panarello that he would spend with his car on the county road 35, which is the road that connects Santa Croce Camerina with the campaigns of the area. The mother of the boy killed did not give any response to the minutes in question and in the filming of various video surveillance equipment missing a kilometer, already dubbed as the kilometers of darkness, a interpoderale discovered by the cameras, and that leads to the Old Mill.”
Criminal Investigation

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