Criminal law, or penal law, is the body of law that regulates and punishes acts considered undesirable to the state. Examples of crimes include theft, assault, and robbery, trafficking in controlled substances, murder or treason. The purpose of penal law is to maintain a state of order in society by confining lawbreakers, and preventing them and others from violating the well-being of citizens.
Criminal law is different from the civil rights law in that the latter focuses on disputes between private parties and seeks to compensate the victim. Disciplines related to criminal law are criminology, accounting forensics, forensic psychology, international criminal law, environmental law, and military law.
Universities offer studies in criminal law as independent programmes, under Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Master of Laws (LLM) professional degrees. Students gain general theoretical knowledge of penal law such as criminal justice, global crime problems and human rights. They gain an in-depth knowledge of aspects related to homicide, mentally disordered offenders, the death penalty, legal responses to terrorism, and many more.
Careers in criminal law include criminalist and criminologist, public interest lawyer, judge and magistrate, forensic psychologist, fraud investigator, detective, probation officer, or crime laboratory analyst. Professional practice in various work places such as law firms, private business, government, and public interest organisations.