The articles presented here were written by attorneys practicing in Whatcom County. They’re meant to provide you with legal information. For legal advice you should contact a qualified attorney.
Criminal Law, as distinguished from civil law, is a system of laws concerned with punishment of individuals who commit crimes. Thus, where in a civil case two individuals dispute their rights, a criminal prosecution involves the people as a whole deciding whether to punish an individual for his conduct or lack of conduct (i.e. omission). Just as the people decide what conduct to punish, so the people decide what punishment is appropriate. Accordingly, punishments vary with the severity of the offense—from a simple fine (e.g. for a traffic violation) to loss of freedom (e.g. for murder).