As you already know many criminal acts are punished by prison sentence. For first time offenders and light criminal cases other forms of punishment may be used as well.
Criminal law exists to prohibit acts that are undesirable. To punish someone for such crime, a proof or evidence of that crime needs to be presented. This requirement is also known as gui9lty act or actus reus. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal act, but it doesn’t need strong evidence to punish the offender due to danger such offender carries. There is a difference there, because judges will still look for the proof of intention, which is known as guilty mind, or mens rea.
Actus reus represents a physical element of a criminal act. It can be accomplished through many things such as actions, threats or by simple omission of action, where duty requires it. From the omission to act arises a duty of care which can be done through things like contracts, blood relation and so on.
Actus reus can sometimes be nullified by total absence of causation, but causation is not broken is a victim makes itself vulnerable. But, once again if a victim engages in particularly dangerous act which leaves him or her vulnerable then causation may be broken.
There are motives that drive people to commit crimes, then there is mens rea, an intention to commit a crime. The weakest form of mens rea is recklessness, where the offender recognizes the danger of his act, but still does it. Yet again there is the chance that offender didn’t notice the danger of his own act, in which case his intent is erased.
These points can be considered in many criminal acts, but they are a bit foggy in some areas of criminal law such as killing. If a person has an intent to kill and goes through it is a murder and offender will be imprisoned for a period of time ( this period depends on the other elements of that crime ). If you have some concerns contact Criminal lawyer Phoenix.