Skip to Main Content

The University of Tennessee

Political Science Department

Frequently Used Tools:

Welcome! » Criminal Law and Procedure

Criminal Law and Procedure

See Also: Overview of Tennessee Criminal Law

“Our law prescribes both substantive and procedural rules governing the everyday operation of the criminal justice system. Substantive criminal law prohibits certain forms of conduct by defining crimes and establishing the parameters of penalties. Procedural criminal law regulates the enforcement of the substantive law, the determination of guilt, and the punishment of those found guilty of crimes. For example, although substantive law makes the possession of heroin a crime, the procedural law regulates the police search and seizure that produce the incriminating evidence. The substantive law makes premeditated murder a crime; the procedural law determines the procedures to be observed at trial and, if a conviction ensues, at sentencing.”

From Scheb and Scheb, Criminal Law and Procedure, 4th ed. (Wadsworth 2002), p. 3.

Justice John P. Stevens“We could, of course, facilitate the process of administering justice to those who violate criminal laws by ignoring . . . the entire Bill of Rights—but it is the very purpose of the Bill of Rights to identify values that may not be sacrificed to expediency. In a just society those who govern, as well as those who are governed, must obey the law.”

—Justice John P. Stevens, dissenting in United States v. Leon (1984)