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From the Magazine: Criminal Defense Articles
Understanding When to Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Washington, D.C.
If you or your loved one is facing a criminal charge in Washington, D.C., Washington D.C., it can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating time. Given the complexity of criminal laws and the potentially severe consequences, an experienced Washington, D.C. criminal lawyer is essential to navigating through this uncertain time. Below, we provide some basic information about criminal law, including when and how a top Washington, D.C. criminal attorney can be most useful.
What are Criminal Charges?
At its simplest, an individual faces 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. 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 sexual assault.
- 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 moving violations such as speeding or running a red light.
While each of the above categories of crimes come with different potential punishments, each can have a significant impact on an individual's life.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C., 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 in Washington, D.C. can assist in all facets of the criminal process. They can help you:
- 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 a lawyer 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 the next steps for handling criminal charges, the best Washington, D.C. 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.