Criminal Code
A criminal code is a document which compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

. Typically a criminal code will contain offences
Offense (law)
In law, an offence is a violation of the criminal law .In England and Wales, as well as in Hong Kong the term "offence" means the same thing as, and is interchangeable with, the term "crime"....

 which are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties which might be imposed for these offences and some general provisions (such as definitions and prohibitions on retroactive prosecution
Ex post facto law
An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...


Criminal codes are relatively common in civil law
Civil law
Civil law may refer to:* Civil law , a branch of continental law which is the general part of private law* Civil law , a branch of common law dealing with relations between individuals or organizations...

 jurisdictions, which tend to build legal systems around codes and principles which are relatively abstract and apply them on a case by case basis. Conversely they are rare in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...


The proposed introduction of a criminal code in England and Wales was a significant project of the Law Commission
Law Commission (England and Wales)
In England and Wales the Law Commission is an independent body set up by Parliament by the Law Commissions Act 1965 in 1965 to keep the law of England and Wales under review and to recommend reforms. The organisation is headed by a Chairman and four Law Commissioners...

 from 1968 to 2008. Due to the strong tradition of precedent in the jurisdiction and consequently the large number of binding judgements and ambiguous 'common law offences', as well as the often inconsistent nature of English law - the creation of a satisfactory code became very difficult. The project was officially abandoned in 2008 although as of 2009 it has been revived.

In the United States a Model Penal Code exists which is not itself law but which provides the basis for the criminal law of many states. Individual states often choose to make use of criminal codes which are often based, to a varying extent on the model code. Title 18 of the United States Code is the criminal code for federal crimes.

Criminal codes are generally supported for their introduction of consistency to legal systems and for making the criminal law more accessible to laypeople. A code may help avoid a chilling effect
Chilling effect
In a legal context, a chilling effect is the term used to describe the inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of a constitutional right by the threat of legal sanction. The right that is most often described as being supressed by a chilling effect is the right to free speech...

 where legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 and case law
Case law
In law, case law is the set of reported judicial decisions of selected appellate courts and other courts of first instance which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents in a process known as stare decisis...

 appears to be either inaccessible or beyond comprehension to non-lawyers. Alternatively critics have argued that codes are too rigid and that they fail to provide enough flexibility for the law to be effective.

The term "penal code" (code pénal) derives from the French Penal Code of 1791
French Penal Code of 1791
The French Penal Code of 1791 was a penal code adopted during the French Revolution by the Constituent Assembly, between 25 September and 6 October 1791. It was France's first penal code, and was influenced by the Enlightenment thinking of Beccaria and Montesquieu.The principle of legality was...


By country

Australian criminal codes
Australian criminal law
The criminal law of Australia generally administered by individual jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Australia. These jurisdictions include the six states, the Commonwealth, and the self-governing territories...

 (The states of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

 and South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

 do not use codes; the Commonwealth is in transition.) Criminal Code of Belarus
Criminal Code of Belarus
The Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus contains the fundamental laws to announce what is considered illegal to perform inside Belarus. Passed in 1999, several of these laws were carried over from laws passed in 1960 as the Byelorussian SSR. In the 1999 edition, the Criminal code contains...

 Penal code of Brazil
Penal code of Brazil
The current Penal Code of Brazil was promulgated in 1940, during the Estado Novo regime.The Brazilian Penal Code includes libel as a crime....

 British Virgin Islands Criminal Code
British Virgin Islands Criminal Code
The British Virgin Islands Criminal Code is a statute of the British Virgin Islands which consolidates almost all of the indictable offences under the Territory's criminal law....

 Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code or Code criminel is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law"...

 Criminal Code of Chile Danish penalty law
Danish penalty law
The Danish Penal Code also known as The Danish Criminal Code is the codification of the central legal text and makes up the foundation of criminal law in Denmark.-History:The Penal Code is law number 126 of April 15, 1930 with later amendments...

 English Criminal Code
English Criminal Code
The jurisdiction of England and Wales does not have a Criminal Code though such an instrument has been often recommended and attempted. , the Law Commission is again working on the Code.-History:...

, a draft has existed since 1989 but, though debated since 1818, has never been enacted. Criminal Code of Finland
Criminal Code of Finland
The Criminal Code of Finland is the codification of the central legal source concerning criminal law in Finland.-References:*Note: English not being official language in Finland, the English translations of Finnish legislation at are unofficial, though used by the Finnish Ministry of...

  French Penal Code German Criminal Code Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code is the main criminal code of India. It is a comprehensive code, intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law. It was drafted in 1860 and came into force in colonial India during the British Raj in 1862...

 Iranian Criminal Code Iraqi Penal Code
Iraqi Penal Code
The Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq. The serves as the basis for current Iraq law. The original Arabic language version of the law can be accessed through the Iraqi Legal Database....

 Italian Penal Code Criminal Code of Japan
Criminal Code of Japan
The Penal Code of Japan was passed in 1907 as Law No. 45. It is one of the Six Codes that form the foundation of Japanese law.- External links :* - Japanese Ministry of Justice...

 Criminal Code of Malta, enacted in 1854. Mexican Penal Code, enacted on August 14th, 1931. Pakistan Penal Code
Pakistan penal code
The Pakistan Penal Code usually called PPC is a penal code for all offences charged in Pakistan. It was originally prepared by Lord Macaulay with a great consultation in 1860 on the behalf of the Government of British India as the Indian Penal Code...

 Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines. First enacted in 1930, it remains in effect today, despite several amendments thereto. It does not comprise a comprehensive compendium of all Philippine penal laws. The Revised Penal Code itself was enacted as Act No...

 Polish Penal Code
Polish Penal Code
Kodeks Karny is the Polish name for its criminal law code. This official name is often abbreviated to KK. There were three penal codes in the modern Polish legal history: the first in 1932, then during the communist era in 1969, and the last, and currently in force, in 1997. Since then it has been...

 Penal Code (Singapore)
Penal Code (Singapore)
The Penal Code of Singapore sets out general principles of the criminal law of Singapore, as well as the elements and penalties of common criminal offences such as homicide, theft and cheating...

 Criminal Code of Russia Criminal Code of Ukraine Title 18 of the United States Code Model Penal Code
Model Penal Code
The Model Penal Code is a statutory text which was developed by the American Law Institute in 1962. The Chief Reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler. The current form of the MPC was last updated in 1981. The purpose of the MPC was to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to...

 by the American Law Institute
American Law Institute
The American Law Institute was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of American common law and its adaptation to changing social needs. The ALI drafts, approves, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law, model codes, and other proposals for law...

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