What is a sanction? This question may seem simple enough, but it is not. The meaning of the word “sanction” varies depending on the context. In its most common usage, the word refers to monetary, non-financial, or public punishment. In other words, sanctions are types of means of control. They are often applied in different legal contexts, and they may have different effects.
Sanction is a monetary or non-monetary fine, payment, loss, damage, loss, payment, reimbursement, or punishment. In general, this word refers to any means of payment, retribution, reimbursement, or correction of conduct that’s been condemned by a public authority for whatever reason. In criminal law, however, the word “sanction” typically indicates an act of sanctioning, with the punishment being dispensed or corrected by a law enforcement agency in the course of an investigation, apprehension, detestation, prosecution, trial, appeal, etc. For example, there may be a conviction for robbery, but only a fine. This distinction between fine and sanction is important in criminal justice.
A criminal sanction is typically dispensed or corrected in the same way a civil penalty is dispensed or corrected. It is an act of reprehension, deterrence, correction, and punishment. Thus, contrary to popular perception, sanction doesn’t always involve the loss of liberty. In many ways, the sanction is a form of insurance against future crime. If a person faces a sanction, whether monetary, social, political, or other, he knows that if he violated the law and the sanction is enforced, he will pay a price in one way or another. This price may be financial, bodily, or psychological; it may be measured in terms of loss of liberty, reputation, status, benefits derived, or any other aspect of life.
The concept of sanctioning bodies is relatively recent in human society. Usually, the taking of an action by another constitutes criminal activity, but not all acts constitute criminal activity. There are two exceptions to this generalization: instances where a person has reason to believe that another is violating the law (such as a search warrant), and cases in which an agent of the state interferes with rights of a private citizen (such as an arrest). Although we rarely apply the concept of sanctioning bodies to criminal activity, we know that in certain circumstances state agents may cease to take reasonable steps to stop criminal activity when it is in progress.
The question “what is the sanction?” is most often asked of prosecutors when they are confronted with cases involving serious criminal conduct, like what is often called “driving while intoxicated.” Unfortunately, many prosecutors do not understand how the state decides when it is not in violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. This can result in the improper application of punishment when a defendant has suffered some criminal penalty for the commission of a lawful act.
A common way of interpreting what is sanction in criminal law is based on the state’s power to control the use of force in making arrests and enforcing the law. If the state decides that private citizens have a reasonable expectation of being free from unreasonable searches and seizures, they may be able to use force against those who resist. Similarly, if the state determines that a suspect’s constitutional rights were violated when it became clear that he had engaged in criminal activity, then the suspect can be punished for that activity. However, the state has little power to prevent resistance to unlawful police authority when that resistance involves the use of force. That is why it is surprising to find a prosecutor charging a suspect with resisting arrest when the officer’s first aim was to arrest him for drunk driving.
The second part of the question “what is the sanction?” is related to the level of penalties that criminal defendants face for criminal conduct. The sanctions are often designed to deter future criminal behavior and to promote compliance with the laws. Often, these punishments require proof of the defendant’s guilt or innocence before they are imposed; other times, they are just punishment for an illegal act.
The state has the right to use its power over the enforcement of criminal laws to impose what is commonly known as “punishment” upon those who break the law. The constitution protects the rights of the people to have their freedoms restricted by the state. The state can only imprisonment those who resists arrest by using physical force or takes other unlawful action. The Fifth Amendment provides the guarantee of freedom of speech and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that state enforcement of drug laws violates the guarantee of equal protection under the law.