criminal law


Definition of criminal law

: the law of crimes and their punishments

Examples of criminal law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The court also agreed to decide cases involving two other questions of criminal law. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Examine Insanity Defense, Need for Jury Unanimity," 18 Mar. 2019 One standard story is that blockchains will make large swaths of criminal law, taxation, and financial regulation disappear by making all kinds of activities, including money laundering and leaking state secrets, impossible to prevent. Kevin Werbach, WIRED, "Why Porn on the Blockchain Won't Doom Bitcoin," 29 Mar. 2018 Among other changes, Amendment 11 would repeal the prohibition on retroactivity, allowing changes to criminal laws to apply retroactively. German Lopez, Vox, "How 2018 voters could change America’s criminal justice system," 6 Nov. 2018 Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three entities in February on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere with the U.S. election through the manipulation of social media. Chris Strohm,, "Mueller taps more prosecutors to help with growing Trump probe," 5 July 2018 But the extreme example actually rests on a more pervasive phenomenon — namely, the under-enforcement of the criminal law against some groups of offenders. Vesla Mae Weaver, Vox, "The Kavanaugh hearings show who we afford a second chance and who we don’t," 28 Sep. 2018 The answer as a matter of criminal law is fairly clear: Victims are not going to be able to get perpetrators sent to jail on the basis of this kind of evidence. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh’s habit of dissembling makes it hard to take his word over Ford’s," 24 Sep. 2018 Under Chinese criminal law, Mr. Deng faces up to seven years in jail. Sui-lee Wee And Elsie Chen, New York Times, "The Personal Data of 346,000 People, Hung on a Museum Wall," 13 Apr. 2018 My personal Sharia tells me how to pray, how to fast, how to follow my personal pietistic laws, but then there is Sharia that gets involved in criminal law, that gets involved in prohibiting siege. Fox News, "Dr. Zuhdi Jasser on terror threats facing the United States," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'criminal law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of criminal law

1672, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for criminal law

Last Updated

29 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for criminal law

The first known use of criminal law was in 1672

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More Definitions for criminal law

criminal law


English Language Learners Definition of criminal law

: laws that deal with crimes and their punishments

criminal law


Legal Definition of criminal law

: public law that deals with crimes and their prosecution — compare civil law

Note: Substantive criminal law defines crimes, and procedural criminal law sets down criminal procedure. Substantive criminal law was originally common law for the most part. It was later codified and is now found in federal and state statutory law.

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More from Merriam-Webster on criminal law

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with criminal law

Britannica English: Translation of criminal law for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about criminal law

Comments on criminal law

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an act or instance of returning to life

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