Criminal law, involves the study of legal law and its scope of application over time. It defines behaviour that is contrary to public order and determines the criminal sanctions applicable to it.
The term "criminal" refers to offences whose perpetrators may be punished by a penalty expressly provided for by law. Criminal law thus comprises all the rules applicable to offences such as murder, theft, fraud, traffic offences, drug offences, etc.
It is often contrasted with civil law, which deals with the relationship between two legal or natural persons. Swiss criminal law distinguishes between penalties and measures.
From a legal point of view, criminal law is frequently divided into two main areas:
- General criminal law, which specifies the general conditions of incrimination and sentencing;
- Special criminal law, which establishes a catalogue of incriminated behaviour.