In the field of law, a code is defined as the group of systematic legal rules that serve to regulate, in a unitary manner, a certain matter. This definition allows the systematic compilation of various laws and the set of regulations related to a certain subject to be known as a code.
According to abbreviationfinder, the civil code, to cite a specific expression, describes the orderly, systematized and unitary group of private law rules that govern the civil relations of both natural and legal persons, whether private or public (provided that the persons act as individuals).
The commercial code, for its part, is the set of rules and precepts created to regulate commercial relations.
The case of the penal code, on the other hand, consists of a systematized block of unitary characteristics that contains the punitive legal norms of a nation. Therefore, it covers the laws that are applicable from a criminal point of view. In this sense, the penal code embodies the ius puniendi (the sanctioning power) of the State.
In this case, we can determine that any penal code includes, for example, the custodial penalties that exist for any person who commits a crime. When we talk about crime, we are referring to everything from homicides to abuse, influence peddling, embezzlement or robbery, including injuries or slander.
If we focus on what the Spanish Penal Code is, we can establish that the maximum prison sentences that are established, for example, for sexual offenders are fifteen years while for those who have carried out a homicide in many cases exceed the eighteen years. For the latter case, the sentence establishes that they remain in jail for more than those eighteen years, it is necessary to have aggravations such as cruelty or treachery.
In this sense, along with homicides, the crimes that lead those who have committed them to spend more time deprived of their liberty are genocide (acts carried out to destroy a racial, ethnic or religious group), terrorism and assassination (murder or homicide of an important person).
Continuing with the example of Spain, whose current penal code was approved in 1995 by organic law (Organic Law 10/1995), it can be determined that the crimes that have lower maximum penalties are the following: sexual harassment that can even not reaching a year in prison, the prevarication that follows the trend of the aforementioned case or the influence peddling that, at most, reaches two years in prison.
As in the case of the civil code and the commercial code, France was the pioneer country in terms of the criminal code. During the government of Napoleon Bonaparte, the first modern penal code was promulgated with the aim of structuring the legal system and avoiding contradictions between the various scattered norms that governed the French penal system.
The existence of a penal code means that citizens can know what acts are classified as crimes and, in this way, avoid them. On the other hand, the penal code guarantees that a person will not be punished for an act that is not prohibited by law.
In any case, it is important to bear in mind that not all criminal legislation is usually included in the criminal code, but there are also special criminal laws and non-criminal laws but with criminal content.