Regulatory offences cover a significant range of activities of a non-criminal nature. Unlike with crimes, a conviction for a regulatory offence is an easier process because it does not necessitate the guilt or the intention to be proved. The punishment for the regulatory offence depends on the damage the suspect caused to public. The most common penalty is a fine in the amount imposed by the judge according to the offence severity. The offender in this case can go on bail.
The main function of the regulatory offence is to warn and prevent offenders from committing crimes in the future. Thus, charging an unreasonable fine contravenes with the initial idea behind punishment. The penalty for the seemingly small offence may be either too harsh or too lax in some countries. For example, speeding fines in Scandinavian countries appear to be reasonable enough for the drivers to avoid violating the traffic rules ever again. Whereas drivers in some Eastern European countries tend to repeatedly violate the rules mainly due to the small fines. Offenders who were proved to harm the public order in a more severe manner may be punished with the license being suspended or even going to jail.
It is important to mention that a regulatory offence can be considered a crime depending on the statutes and laws of a country, city or state. One of the differences between regulatory and criminal offence is that the latter is prohibited by the common law. An act can only be classified as a criminal offence if it is followed by the legal prosecution. When proved guilty, a criminal’s sentence depends solely on the nature of a crime. The sentence ranges from the community service to imprisonment or even execution.
The punishment basis of the Criminal Law consists of two elements: external element (prohibited act, state-of-affairs, conduct) and internal element (fault, dishonesty, recklessness, malicious intention). Proving that these elements are actually there is the responsibility of a prosecutor. For instance, according to what is defined as murder, the external element is the outlawed killing of a human and the internal element is the mental intention to kill. It means, that, in order to convict a suspect of a murder, the prosecutor has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there exists a connection between these two particular elements of the crime. Also, the weapon used while committing the crime has to be found and examined. The lack of this evidence hampers the process while also playing a crucial part in the investigation.
Depending on the proved intention of committing a crime, the sentence differs drastically. If the internal element is not proved, a murder case turns into involuntary manslaughter with a significantly shorter sentence. There is one more element of the punishment which shouldn’t be underestimated. A suspect may have a criminal defense (mental disorder, intoxication, automatism, legal duty, self-defense etc.) which, in most cases, negates the internal element and suggests suspect’s innocence. Unfortunately, the judicial process is sometimes influenced by the public pressure and a person may have to face the unjust persecution. Such practices undermine the notion of justice and are unacceptable in the modern world.