Criminal law serves as the backbone of any society, establishing the boundaries of acceptable behavior and outlining consequences for transgressions. It is a reflection of societal values, norms, and the collective understanding of justice. However, the relationship between criminal law and society is complex and multi-faceted, influenced by historical, cultural, and socio-economic factors. In this blog, we delve into the intricate interplay between criminal law and society, examining its evolution, impact, and contemporary challenges.

Law and society are related to each other. Nothing can explain without any of them. Society becomes the jungle without the law. Law also needs to be changed according to the changes the society faces, because without the necessary changes law cannot keep pace with society. Without the control of the law, the society became the jungle or at least barbaric. So, to keep the society peaceful, we need to create a harmonious relationship between law and society.

We can take an example of our country, where every day we watch so many crimes. But due to lack of evidence the criminal is set free or there are too little penalty, that law breakers did not care about it.


The roots of criminal law can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where codes of conduct and punishment were established to maintain order and regulate behavior within communities. From the Code of Hammurabi to the Twelve Tables of Rome, early legal systems laid the groundwork for modern criminal jurisprudence. Over time, legal principles such as presumption of innocence, due process, and proportionality have emerged as fundamental tenets of criminal law, shaping its development and application in society.


In general terms, we can say that, Law is the command of the Sovereign. It must have to go in flow from the determinate person or the group of persons with having the threat of displeasure, if in case not obeyed in a proper way. As known by everyone that,  the term  Sovereignity is always the part of the state. And because of which it can be said that, the Law is always used to denote the rules of the conduct emanated from and also enforced by the side of state.

There are various definitions given from the side of experts. Some of them are:

  • According to Holland,  Law is “a rule of external human action enforced by the sovereign political authority.”
  • According to Salmond, “Law is the body of principles recognized and applied by the State in the administration of justice”
  • According to Woodrow Wilson, ”Law is that portion of the established habit and thought of mankind which has gained distinct and formal recognition in the shape of uniform rules backed by the authority and power of the government.”
  • According to Anson, ”The objects of Law is Order, and the result of Order is that men are enables to look ahead with some sort of security as to the future. Although human action cannot be reduced to the uniformities of nature, men endeavored to reproduce by Law something approaching to this uniformity.”

So, we can say that law must have three characteristics which are given below:

  • Law has its sovereign authority,
  • Law is accompanied by sanctions,
  • The command of law should compel a course of conduct. Being a command the law must flow from a determinate person or group of persons with the threat of displeasure, if it is not obeyed.


It is a basic term, to which we can say that, a society is always a community or the group of persons, who are living in any region, and are united by some of the common bonds. It’s a group of persons, who are related with one other through the relation persistent like, as a social status, roles and also the social networks, with the same location area or the territory and also, which subjects to the same political authority or the dominant cultural expectations. A simple and a common bond is a kind of uniformity of factors like nature of the people, habit, custom, beliefs, culture, etc. This common bond helps the members of the society to form the rules of social behavior. The punishment of disobeying the social rules is come from in the form of social disapproval. The punishments are generally excommunication or ostracism.


There are certain broad on the substantive nature of criminal law, which have been generally maintained by the various theorists in a traditional manner. One set of such constraints concerns the sorts of behavior that may legitimately be prohibited. The other set of constraints which concern what is needed in order to establish criminal responsibility that is liability, independently of the content of the particular statute whose violation is in question.

Also, The legal system used to reflects all the energy of life within in any society. Law has the complex vitality of a living organism. We can say that law is a social science characterized by movement and adaptation. Rules are neither created nor applied in a vacuum, on the other hand they created and used time and again for a purpose. Rules are intended to move us in a certain direction that we assume is good, or prohibit movement in direction that we believe is bad.

The social rules are made by the members of the society. Disobedience of the social rules is followed by punishment of social disapproval. There is no positive penalty associated with the violation of rules except excommunication or ostracism. On the other hand, Law is enforced by the state. The objective of law is to bring order in the society so the members of society can progress and develop with some sort of security regarding the future.

The state makes laws. Disobedience of state laws cause penalty, which is enforced by the Government by the power of the state. Which is not enforceable is not Law.


Criminal law functions as a mechanism of social control, seeking to deter, punish, and rehabilitate individuals who violate established norms. It embodies society’s collective response to wrongdoing, aiming to maintain order and protect the rights of citizens. However, the concept of justice is subjective and can vary across different cultures and societies. What may be considered a just punishment in one community may be viewed as excessive or insufficient in another, highlighting the inherent challenges in achieving consensus on matters of law and morality.


Despite its idealistic principles, the criminal justice system is not immune to biases and inequalities. Marginalized groups, including racial minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, and the mentally ill, often face disproportionate scrutiny and harsher penalties within the legal system. Factors 

Such as implicit bias, systemic racism, and unequal access to legal representation contribute to disparities in arrest rates, sentencing outcomes, and incarceration rates, raising concerns about fairness and equality before the law.


In response to these challenges, efforts to reform and improve the criminal justice system have gained momentum in recent years. Initiatives aimed at reducing mass incarceration, promoting alternatives to imprisonment, and addressing systemic inequalities have garnered bipartisan support and public attention. Additionally, advancements in technology and forensic science have transformed investigative techniques and evidence gathering, enhancing the accuracy and reliability of criminal proceedings. However, systemic issues persist, requiring sustained advocacy and collaboration to effect meaningful change.


The relationship between criminal law and society is dynamic and multifaceted, shaped by historical precedents, cultural norms, and contemporary challenges. While criminal law serves as a cornerstone of societal order and justice, its application is not without flaws and disparities. Addressing issues of inequality, discrimination, and systemic bias requires collective action and a commitment to upholding the principles of fairness, equality, and due process. By fostering dialogue, promoting reform, and prioritizing the rights of all individuals, we can strive towards a more just and equitable legal system that reflects the values and aspirations of society as a whole.