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 This type of diffusion of blame is extremely common in fraud cases, says David Sklansky, who teaches and writes about criminal law at Stanford. Arielle Pardes, Wired, 23 Nov. 2021 At the time, that department’s morality police enforced its severe version of Islamic criminal law - banning cassette tapes and patrolling the streets to restrict women from going out. Ellen Francis, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Sep. 2021 Second-degree homicide charges could apply if jurors determined that Rittenhouse sincerely believed his life was in danger but used an unreasonable amount of force, University of Wisconsin-Madison criminal law professor Cecelia Klingele said. Todd Richmond, ajc, 11 Nov. 2021 The criminal law in New Mexico is like that in other US states and criminalizes deaths and injuries caused by recklessness or criminal negligence. Paul Callan, CNN, 24 Oct. 2021 The case touches on how to balance the rights of the accused with those of the public, and core criminal law principles with public policy concerns. Washington Post, 11 Oct. 2021 Most of the conduct described does not appear to violate New York’s penal code, and none of it violates federal criminal law. Jennifer Rodgers, CNN, 3 Aug. 2021 Daniel Richman, a former prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Columbia Law School, said in an interview that the filing of a criminal complaint did not oblige law enforcement authorities to zealously pursue a case. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 Three Michigan attorneys who practice criminal law said the misdemeanor charges against Snyder are a surprise and that the length of time that has lapsed could make getting any conviction against Snyder a challenge. Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, 13 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for criminal law

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The first known use of criminal law was in 1672

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Dictionary Entries Near criminal law


criminal law

criminal lawyer

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Statistics for criminal law

Last Updated

28 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Criminal law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on criminal law

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


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