Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsLLOYD ENGLAND: This week, criminal law. What are our obligations under the criminal law? How does society govern the behavior of its citizens? Is it about deterrence, or is it about punishment? Accidental manslaughter-- do you need to intend the crime? What about strict liability crimes? Ever gone one kilometer an hour over the speed limit? We're going to look at some everyday scenarios-- mobile phones, cars. We're going to meet some legal academics, great criminal minds. We're going to work through some scenarios. And by the end of the week, you're going to be much more careful about where you place that mobile phone when you're driving a car.

Welcome to Week 2

Watch Lloyd (Justice of the Peace, Lecturer, Faculty of Law) introduce the topics that are going to be discussed throughout this week of the course.

Many forms of human behaviour are seen as socially unacceptable, but are not a criminal offence. If a person breaches a contractual promise to another person, like selling them a bad apple, then they can also seek a civil legal remedy against them, such as money for their loss. But, there are some types of bad behaviour that are seen as both socially unacceptable that harm people and also have a criminal offence attached to them, like: not paying for a train ticket or driving your car in a dangerous way.

This is because either the courts, with the common law, or the elected members of parliament, with statute law, take the view that some types of behaviour hurt our wider community and harm the best interests of the public, who want a safe and fair society to live in.

A criminal offence for every kind of bad behaviour

In theory, it is possible for there to be a criminal offence for every kind of bad behaviour. You can probably find strange criminal offences that are still in force as valid statutes, even though they are very old.

In reality, the police tend to focus on the more serious types of crimes: theft, assault or even murder.

Even so, we can explain why some forms of bad behaviour are criminal offences is because they are the type of offences that could injure the wider public by threatening the safety, morality and order of society. Some authors have even described crime as a breach of a ‘social contract’ between the individual and the state (as opposed to between individuals as in contract law).

A way of regulating society

Criminal law is also is a way of regulating society - if nobody paid for their train tickets we couldn’t afford to have trains to catch to work, if we were allowed to drive on any side of the road we wanted, then the risk of people dying would increase dramatically.

It’s about the law, in your backyard

Remember, although we explore law through an Australian common law lens, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to apply the law from your jurisdiction to the case studies, discussions and tasks featured this week.

The underlying principles will be the same, but your society has amended, developed and shaped the law to reflect the values of your jurisdiction.

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This video is from the free online course:

Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University