Everyone’s always heard the joke about ten thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean, but it’s rare that anyone really considers the importance of criminal lawyers and criminal law in today’s world. For that matter, many people don’t even consider what criminal law even is. The easiest way to keep in mind about what criminal law is and what it means is to think about its root word of “crime”. That’s really where the answer lies on the question of what criminal law is.
Anyone who commits a crime is a criminal and a crime is anything that harms society in some way. So, criminal law is everything from breaking and entering to assault and murder. When a person quips about how everyone would be better of without lawyers, they never think about where everyone would be without criminal law and the people who know it well.
Criminal law has been established as a major part of law and society for thousands of years. Yes, even our most distant ancestors saw the need for some level of criminal law. This actually goes down to the very base of modern day society. In the most distant past, a feudal king, emperor, or pharaoh saw the need to maintain order and that order could only exist with laws in place. If someone stole something from another person, but there was no law to tell that person that what he did was unethical but not illegal, there were no consequences to apply to his actions.
When an entire society doesn’t have those basic laws in place to say that a person can’t kill, steal, or harm others without consequences, then a civilization quickly descends into chaos. In these kinds of hypothetical situations, one notices that the question isn’t if a person will do something wrong given no consequences to their actions, but when!
The one constant in any society is that no matter how many people in it are moral, there are always going to be some that will take advantage of a lack of laws and essentially go crazy looting and pillaging. It might just be a sad comment on the nature of humanity, but it is true that someone will always act contrary to a common sense of morality when the law disappears.
This is what is intrinsic to having criminal law cemented into the very fabric of society. So, what’s the use of criminal law? A great deal. Society would not function without it.
But, what about criminal lawyers? Does anyone really need them? The answer lies in the same argument about criminal law. Without it, chaos reigns. As a result, society needs criminal law to function. What follows that statement is that criminal law needs people in order to function.
People who are convicted under criminal law need to face the consequences of their actions. As a result, they need to be housed in a prison. That prison requires guards and an administration to operate, but they wouldn’t be there without the criminal system that got them there.
That criminal system involves a judge and/or a jury to decide if a person accused of a crime is guilty or innocent. The accused is prosecuted by a lawyer whose job it is to make sure that justice is served. The person accused of a crime has to be able to defend themselves from those charges so that they don’t end up in that aforementioned prison if they are innocent.
That’s where the old saying of “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client” comes in. The criminal justice system is complex enough that a person really does need to spend years of study to understand it. As a result, one quickly sees the need to have criminal lawyers to represent the everyday man, because the everyday man can’t represent himself!
Enter the criminal lawyer. They do have an important use in modern society and fill an important role for everyone across the country. The truth is that the population needs specialists in the field of law who know it back and forth so that we don’t have to!
And, that brings us down to the old joke about ten thousand lawyers at the bottom of an ocean. It’s one that many people love to tell, but the reality is all of the people who make that same joke knows that they would find themselves in dire straits should they ever find them in a situation where they needed a criminal lawyer but there were none to be had.
So, is ten thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean a good start? As it turns out, people might want to change that little joke. Perhaps the good start is giving them the recognition they deserve!