The term criminal law means crimes that may establish punishments. In contrast, Criminal Procedure describes the process through which the criminal laws are enforced.
Crimes are usually categorized as felonies or misdemeanors based on their nature and the maximum punishment that can be imposed. A felony involves serious misconduct that is punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year. Most state criminal laws subdivide felonies into different classes with varying degrees of punishment. Crimes that do not amount to felonies are misdemeanors or violations. A misdemeanor is misconduct for which the law prescribes punishment of no more than one year in prison. Lesser offenses, such as traffic and parking infractions, are often called violations and are considered a part of criminal law.
India has a well-established statutory, administrative and judicial framework for criminal trials. Indian Penal laws are primarily governed by 3 Acts:
1. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.);
2. The Indian Penal Code, 1960 (IPC);
3. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA).
The Criminal Law of India is divided into two categories.
Substantive Law provides for the definitions of various offences and prescribes punishments for the respective offences. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) falls under the Substantive Law.
Procedural Law provides a mechanism for the enforcement of the Criminal Law. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 comes under this category.
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