The two purposes can be broadly described as legal and social in nature. With regard to the legal angle, the purpose of criminal law is to protect and punish. The law empowers enforcement agencies and even citizens the right to protect individuals and the society. It also empowers the judiciary to punish persons proved to indulge in acts of crime. There are also those who feel that criminal law (or any statute for that matter) acts as a deterrent and will help in teaching social boundaries. Punishment for negligent or rash driving can be stated as an example.
The two main functions of criminal law is given here which is based on protection against criminal activities. Protection is for both individuals and the society as a whole, which are deemed as functions of criminal law. Experts feel that the part of protecting individuals is clearly understood, but in the case of collective protection, the concept is more complex. An example, as provided by Gaines and Miller will make the point clear. A fire retardant (protected) mattress is sold to a hotel without washing instructions. The employees (unknowingly) wash the mattress in a manner that lessens such properties, and a guest starts a major fire by falling asleep with a lit cigarette. This act of not providing a label with washing instructions can be considered to be a criminally negligent act under the Flammable Fabrics Act. It may be difficult to differentiate between functions and purpose of criminal law. But reference to literature provides the above mentioned outlook on the two aspects (functions and purpose) of criminal law.
Members of the US society, collectively and individually can take recourse to a number of written statutes and laws in order to avail protection and justice from criminal activities. They include the American common law, state criminal codes, municipal ordinances, state and