The overarching purpose of criminal law in Australia is to bring about and enforce criminal sanctions, also known as penalties, such as imprisonment or fines, with regard to individuals whose behaviour is considered not merely unacceptable enough to deserve punishment by the state, but also socially dangerous. The key specificity of Australian criminal law stems from the fact that it originated from both common law (case law) and legal statues enacted by the legislatures, including, for instance, such statutes as the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). In Australia, criminal law belongs to those domains of law that are largely controlled by the states, rather than by the federal government, notwithstanding the fact that there is a growing number of criminal law provisions enacted by the Commonwealth government as well, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005 (Cth). Here, it is extremely interesting to note that the federal system of Australia has it own criminal law enforcement agency, the Australian Federal Police.
As the foregoing discussion must suggest, most of the criminal statutes in Australia originate from English criminal law, though Queensland originally rested its system on the nineteenth-century Code of India. Criminal statutes not merely define what constitutes a crime and cover the relevant penalties and sentences for diverse criminal offences, but also regulate issues of criminal procedure and evidence. In addition to this, certain specific statutes, such as the Corporations Act 2001, or laws pertaining to transport, roads or environmental protection, tend to prescribe sanctions for specific offences committed in particular areas of social relations.