The state con-stitutions are those by which the people of the state constitute their local form of government and limit the powers of their own representatives.
We have seen that the states reserved all power not granted away by the federal constitution. They adopt their own written constitutions for two purposes: (i) to prescribe the form of the state government, and (2) to limit and determine the power of their representatives. A state constitution is a limitation of power. The federal constitution is a grant of power. If the power of congress to pass a law is in question, we must inquire whether the federal constitution or its amendments confer that power by express grant or reasonable implication ; if the power of the state assembly to pass a law is in question (assuming it not to be a power taken from the state by the federal constitution) we inquire if the state constitution has limited the power. If it hasn't then the state assembly has the power.
5. 4 Wheat. (U. S.) 316.
A state constitution may be amended at the pleasure of the state.
The administrative law is that branch of the law wherein is included all laws by which the government functions and administers its affairs, as the laws by which territorial divisions are made, revenue law, etc.
We may gather into one large body laws of a public nature by which the government administers its affairs, and call the group administrative law. Laws creating territorial divisions, revenue laws, the laws creating and governing highways, public improvements, etc., are all placed in this large and important branch of law.
A crime may be defined as any act or omission to act, declared by public law to be punishable by the state in a proceeding in its own name.
The state must preserve its own integrity as well against inward demoralization as outward attack. It exists by virtue of the obedience of its citizens or other subjects to the laws by which it is held together as a political body. It prevents this inward demoralization (so far as overt act is concerned) by its criminal law, or those laws whose infraction by a subject will be deemed an injury to the state itself.
Theoretically every disregard by one individual of the rights of others, every invasion by one subject of the sphere allotted by general law to another, is an attack upon the communal system, the tendency of which, however slight, is toward the demoralization of the scheme of mutual protection for which the state exists. But in practice it cannot always be so regarded on account of its remote tendency to affect the state in its public capacity. And although reparation may be sought by the individual injured by way of damages or other form of restoration in the courts furnished by the state, the state itself takes no notice of the act other than by thus furnishing the means of redress, deeming that sufficient remedy, unless the act is also of such a nature that it has as a practical tendency a demoralizing effect upon public peace and order. To effectuate its declaration that the infraction will be considered injurious to the state in its public capacity, it affixes a punishment, ordinarily by way of a monetary charge called a "fine" or by imprisonment or both.
A crime, then, may be defined as any act or omission to act, declared by public law to be punishable by the state in a proceeding in its own name.
The act thus constituting a crime may or may not be an act injuring an individual. The test is whether according to the public policy of the state it is an act injurious to the state itself. If it also injures an individual he has also his redress. Thus, having in one's possession appliances for counterfeiting money may be a crime, but no individual is so far by that act injured. So, killing another unjustifiably and inexcusably is a crime, and here we have both the public and private wrong. But, as we shall see, there cannot be a private wrong unless private injury is present.
Crimes are usually divided into three classes according to the enormity of their turpitude; treasons, felonies and misdemeanors. Treason is declared by our federal constitution, to "consist only in levying war against them (The United States) or in adhering to their enemies giving them aid and comfort" (Article III, SEC. 3). A felony at common law was a crime which worked a forfeiture of the offender's lands or goods. In this country there is no such thing as forfeiture of property as a punishment for crime, and felonies are those crimes punishable by death or imprisonment in a state prison. Misdemeanors are all crimes below the grade of felony. The distinction is sometimes important because of the fact that certain civil disabilities (as the right to vote, or to hold public office) are attached in some states to conviction of felony.
There are some acts which are adjudged a public evil by the sense of all civilized communities. These are the acts (usually) which the common law declared criminal. They are said to be acts "mala in se." But an act may be evil only because legislation declares it so. Such acts are called "mala prohibita." Thus it may be a crime in one jurisdiction to drive an automobile in a public street at a speed greater than twelve miles an hour, while in another jurisdiction such act may not be declared unlawful.