About Criminal Defense Law
If you or your loved one is facing a criminal charge, it can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating time. Given the complexity of criminal laws and the potentially severe consequences, an experienced criminal lawyer is essential to navigating through this uncertain time.
Below we have provided some basic information about criminal law, including when and how a criminal defense attorney in can be most useful.
What Are Criminal Charges?
At its simplest, an individual is facing criminal charges when they have committed a crime. A crime is any act committed or omitted that violates a public law. The laws of each state will define these forbidden acts. All crimes will generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Felony: Felonies are the most severe level of crime, generally punishable by imprisonment for more than a year, in addition to any fines. Examples of crimes that are considered felonies include murder, arson, and rape.
- Misdemeanor: Misdemeanors are lesser crimes, generally resulting in prison sentences of less than a year and lesser fines. Examples of misdemeanors include trespassing and vandalism.
- Infraction: Infractions are minor or petty crimes that normally do not result in jail time. Examples include speeding or running a red light.
While each of the above categories of crimes come with different punishments, each can have a significant impact on an individual's life.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of whether you have committed some wrongdoing or if you are completely innocent, a licensed legal practitioner will be an invaluable resource throughout the criminal process.
A criminal lawyer can assist in all facets of the criminal process, including:
- Ensure Your Rights are Protected. You may have heard the recitation of Miranda rights in movies or TV shows – including the right to an attorney. This is considered an essential right to those facing criminal charges because an attorney can ensure a charged individual receives all the rights they are due under the law.
- Understand the Legal Process. Criminal attorneys know the ins and outs of the legal process for criminal cases. They can assist you in any preliminary hearings, ensure your bail is set at a reasonable amount, and confirm that all legal procedures are being properly followed by the police and the prosecutor.
- Create Defense Strategy. Lawyers who work in criminal law have significant experience strategizing the most effective way to handle a case. This often includes striking deals with the prosecution and securing lesser sentences.
- Understand Case Precedent. One important tool in a successful criminal case is past case law. If there are past cases where a similarly situated defendant overcame criminal charges, an attorney can use this to persuade a judge or jury that you should see the same result.
As you or your loved one determines next steps for handling criminal charges, a criminal defense attorney will be an invaluable asset. The criminal legal process can present unexpectedly complicated twists and turns, where a wrong step could result in serious limitations on your personal liberty.