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criminal law n:
public law that deals with crimes and their prosecution compare civil law NOTE: Substantive criminal law defines crimes, and procedural criminal law sets down criminal procedure. Substantive criminal law was originally common law for the most part. It was later codified and is now found in federal and state statutory law.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.