The Impact of Historical Developments on Criminal Law and Justice - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-10-15
The Impact of Historical Developments on Criminal Law and Justice - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Criminal law Criminal justice
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1036 words
9 min read


Criminal law is a body of law related to crime. Notably, it entails the ability of a country to have a body that dispenses justice. According to Qi and Oberwittler (2009), a surge in interest in criminal jurisprudence prompted reformers to humanize criminal law by modernizing it and introducing a measure of clarity. Various factors, such as historical developments, have influenced criminal law and justice in different nations. Therefore, this analysis’s primary objective is to identify the historical development that triggered the development of criminal law in the six model nations that include China, England, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and France.

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America and Britain viewed the Chinese criminal justice system in the 1700s as inhumane and barbarous (Qi & Oberwittler, 2009). Primarily, these claims resulted when China would prosecute criminals by strangulation. Such an act occurred when an American sailor was accused of homicide against a Chinese national. The same justice administration process was accorded to a Chinese found guilty of homicide and other similar crimes. In effect, America exempted its nationals from being tried in China. With time, China had to surrender its right of territorial jurisdiction over its nationals after the signing of different treaties. The Chinese communists referred to the period that resulted in a century of humiliation in China. The communists led China in protesting the extraterritorial jurisdiction by adopting the western legal system hence marking a significant change to the country’s criminal law and justice administration.


The legal system in England dates back to the 12th century after the conquest of England by Duke William in 1066 (Brundage, 1998). Before, the criminal justice system comprised of the Commons Bench and Kings Bench. The conquest involved a lot of battles and bloodshed. According to Brundage (1998), the conquest of Duke William changed England completely. However, after Duke Williams conquered England, he introduced the country’s current legal system where the courts delivered verdicts. By the year 1200, professional attorneys had emerged to represent their clients in litigation practices (Brundage, 1998).


In 1860, Germany decided to prioritize being a united country, which resulted after the revolution by Otto von Bismarck, who was the prime minister of Prussia (Bloemberg, 2019). The constitutional conflict in Prussia led the prime minister to solve domestic power by favoring the executive over parliament in the matter. Prussia defeated Napoleon III of France in the Franco-Prussian war, which then led to the formation of the German nation-state or the German Reich, as was known at the time (Bloemberg, 2019).

After the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, the western German states joined to form an alliance known as the North German confederation (Bloemberg, 2019). At the time, French had been defeated in the way, and a new German empire proclaimed in 1871 (Bloemberg, 2019). The Reich, which was the new state, was assumed to acquire its authority from the German people’s unitary. The state’s development led to the formation of the country’s legal system, including criminal law, which is practiced in the country up-to-date. From this, one can see that France’s defeat was a historical development that led to the formation of criminal law in Germany.


The Meiji Restoration of the year 1868 prompted the development of criminal law in Japan (Hua, 2004). Public officials highly regulated the country’s criminal system at the time. The officials helped in modeling appropriate behavior, and the people were obligated to obey. However, after 1868, the justice system transformed significantly, and the changes included the development of criminal law (Hua, 2004). The Meiji restoration was a political revolution that led to the military government’s death and returned the control of the country to the emperor.

Saudi Arabia

The criminal law in Saudi Arabia was introduced after forming the kingdom in 1927 (Al-Sayegh, 2004). Accordingly, two independent kingdoms, Hejaz and Najd, unified under one name, Saudi Arabia (Al-Sayegh, 2004). The king at the time, King Abdul Aziz, introduced the laws that would guide the administration of trial verdicts in Sharia courts. The laws had some administrative tribunals that would deal with disputes, and by the year 2001, the country introduced its first criminal procedure code (Al-Sayegh, 2004).


The French Revolution in 1789 influenced the formation of criminal law (Heller, 2010). The revolution was a time in France where people overthrew the monarchy and gained control of the government. The revolution lasted for ten years and started when a group of revolutionaries stormed a prison. The end of the revolution led to the formation of the Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen, guiding later developments in the legal field. By 1808, the code of criminal procedure had been introduced (Heller, 2010).


From this analysis, one can conclude that various historical developments influenced criminal law and criminal justice in the world. In the six model countries, various landmark events led to the formation of criminal law. In China, the law formed from extraterritorial jurisdiction while in England, it resulted from Duke William’s conquest. The Franco-Prussian war, Meiji restoration, and the French revolution contributed to criminal law formation in Germany, Japan, and France, respectively. Lastly, the founding of Saudi Arabia was the historical landmark that led to the development of criminal procedural codes in the kingdom.


Al-Sayegh, F. (2004). A history of Saudi Arabia; Madawi Al-Rasheed. Digest of Middle East Studies, 13(1), 56–58.

Bloemberg, R. G. (2019). The development of the ‘modern’ criminal law of evidence in english law and in France, Germany and the Netherlands: 1750–1900. American Journal of Legal History, 59(3), 358–401.

Brundage, J. A. (1998). The Formation of the English Common Law: Law and Society in England from the Norman Conquest to Magna Carta. Law and History Review, 16(3), 593–594.

Heller, H. (2010). Marx, the French Revolution, and the spectre of the bourgeoisie. Science & Society, 74(2), 184–214.

Hua, S. (2004). The Meiji Restoration (1868) and the late Qing Reform (1898) revisited: Strategies and philosophies. East Asia, 21(3), 3–22.

Qi, S., & Oberwittler, D. (2009). On the road to the rule of law: Crime, crime control, and public opinion in China. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 15(1–2), 137–157.

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