© 2008 Nottingham Law School
Topics to be studied:
Introduction to criminal law, the appeals process and the burden of proof
By the end of this study guide you should be able to:
Understand what we mean by ‘a crime’ and how offences are classified.
Appreciated the appeals system.
Explain the criminal burden of proof.
Be aware of the suggestions for reform.
2. Essential Reading
This study Guide2.
McAlhone and Huxley-Binns,
Criminal Law – The Fundamentals
, 2007, Sweet andMaxwell, Chapter One3.
Clarkson and Keating,
Criminal Law – Text and Materials
Edition, 2007, Sweet andMaxwell, Chapter One
In the criminal law we are concerned only with whether D (the accused) is liable for anyoffence and, if so, which. It is not a study of procedure, evidence, or sentencing. Thisquestion of liability is often complex and the criminal law has been proven to be a difficultarea for both students and the judiciary. Thus, even though academic criminal law may notbe quite what you expected, we hope and believe that you will find it interesting andenjoyable.This guidance text seeks only to direct your reading – you MUST perform the wider readingdirected in order to fully understand the substantive issues.
3.1 What is a crime?
Defining a crime would appear, on the face of it, a simple task. A crime has historically beenunderstood as a wrong against society; conduct that has been recognised as too important toleave to the private citizen wronged to bring civil proceedings. It is then important to definewhich offences will be subject to regulation by the civil courts and which will be subject todenunciation by the State. As the sociologist Howard Becker set out "Deviance is not aquality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by othersof rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfullybeen applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label."
Outsiders: Studies in theSociology of Deviance
, New York, Free Press, 1963, p.9).