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BY HENRY J. STEPHEN,
SERJE ANT AT LAW,
43, FLEET STREET.
No work on the Criminal Law, of prior date to the present, will be found exactly suited to the objects of the larger number of readers on that subject, whether in or out of the Profession. The Treatise contained in Blackstone's fourth volume has become, by the vast alterations in the law itself, an insufficient and dangerous guide, unless accompanied by notes bearing a large proportion in magnitude to the text; and even in its original shape that treatise is less condensed and practical than a reader in quest of information on particular points usually desires. It has besides the obvious disadvantage of being inaccessible to purchasers except as part of a large and expensive publication. The publications of later date, on the other hand, are all evidently intended for the mere guidance of practitioners. They are consequently written upon a partial and confined plan, not embracing the whole outline of the system of
Criminal Law, while they are at the same time crowded with its minuter details and distinctions, which, however important to those engaged in actual practice in the Crown Courts, are of little value to any other class of readers. The work now presented to the Public is liable to none of these objections, and will be found to afford correct information on the present state of the Crown Law, compiled upon a comprehensive though compendious plan.
The order of Blackstone has been in general adopted, with such occasional deviations as the changes in the law itself required or suggested.
A crime is the commission or omission of an act, in viola. tion of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it. -4 BI. C. 5.
A misdemeanor, though in a certain sense synonymous with a crime, in the language of law now always imports a crime which does not amount to felony, but is the subject of indictment.—4 Bl. C. 5, (n.) by Chr. (5.)
A misdemeanor is generally punishable with fine and imprisonment.
A felony is such a crime as, independently of other punishments, occasioned at common law a total forfeiture of lands or goods, or both.-4 Bl. C. 55.
As such forfeiture most frequently occurs where the crime is punishable with death, therefore a felony generally carries with it the idea of a capital crime.
But felonies are either punishable with death or not.
Felonies are punishable with death, ist, where the offence was excluded from “ benefit of clergy" by the common law, or by any statute, before or on the 14th November, 1826; 2dly, where since that day they have been made