Criminal law provides predictability and allows people to know what to expect from others. Without criminal law, there would be chaos and uncertainty. The law makes it possible to resolve conflicts and disputes between disputed citizens. It's important to pay attention to the difference between “criminal law” and “criminal justice” when looking for the best program that fits your needs and helps you accelerate your career goals.
Studying criminal justice can lead to a career as a police officer, detective, probation officer, correctional officer, forensic technician, crime scene investigator, FBI agent, fraud investigator, social worker, lawyer, DEA agent, United States sheriff, or many other positions within law enforcement and judicial bodies. Court professionals, from judges to sheriffs, are responsible for understanding criminal cases, spreading the truth behind them, and deciding what needs to be done to correct them. A criminal law degree leads to careers other than becoming a lawyer; it prepares you to pursue satisfying careers as a police officer, probation officer, social worker, journalist, nonprofit worker, or judge. The training received at a police academy aligns very well with criminal justice, national security and public administration, but especially with criminal justice.
Without the criminal justice system and all those working within it, there could be havoc, violence, theft and danger everywhere. If you were hoping to become the next Jessica Jones, reconsider your plans because Jessica Jones has superpowers and lives in the Marvel Universe; she is a private investigator, not a criminal lawyer; and she has proven that she breaks the law more often than she follows it. If you feel the call to do this type of work, to study the law and learn how it applies to criminals and the legal justice system, don't hesitate. Juggling multiple clients can also be a challenge, but at the end of the day, you'll be pleased that you're helping to keep criminals behind bars and keep the innocent free.
On the other hand, criminal law focuses, in depth, on the legal consequences of crimes committed; this can be studied at the graduate level and also requires a bachelor's degree. Most criminal law students end up pursuing a career as a criminal lawyer and practice this specific type of law. And if you decide to enter the field of criminal justice, you will enter with your eyes wide open to the fact that it is much more complicated than people think. Students also complete a final final year project in collaboration with faculty, many of whom are also professionals active in various branches of the criminal justice field.
Reserve police officer and former television news anchor, Bailey teaches in the online criminal justice undergraduate program and serves as the director of public safety outreach for the National University.