Criminal Law

Criminal law is the body of laws that classify criminal acts and the punishments used to prosecute individuals that commit crimes. When an individual fails to adhere to a particular criminal statute, he or she is committing a criminal act that breaks the law. 

Being accused of a crime, large or small, is a devastating and intimidating experience that will leave you worried about your future. A conviction can cost fines, loss of driving license, and even freedom. From the moment you are accused of a crime, whether it be violent crimes, DUI charges, theft or something else, it’s important to understand your rights and the process to expect. 

What is criminal law?

Criminal law is a broad legal area that relates to any act or omission of an act that is in violation of the law. Crimes vary across the country with federal, state, and local governments each with penal codes that explain prohibited crimes. 

Criminal acts vary by jurisdiction but are broadly separated into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. 

A misdemeanor is a less serious offense such as minor assaults, traffic offenses, or petty thefts and is punishable by less than a year of imprisonment or fines. In contrast, a felony is a serious offense including murder, dealing drugs, robbery and is usually punishable by imprisonment of a year or more. 

What is the difference between criminal law and civil law?

Criminal and civil law are the two main bodies of law in the U.S legal system, but the difference between the two often causes confusion. 

Put simply, civil law deals with disputes between people or businesses while criminal law applies when an individual commits an offense against the public, society, or the state. In the civil court system, individuals or organizations can bring each other to court, however, only the government can initiate prosecution in criminal cases. 

The conduct and punishments for civil and criminal cases also differ significantly. Criminal cases cover offenses such as murder, theft, and drug possession which, if found guilty of, involve jail time and monetary punishments in the form of fines. Civil cases include breach of contract, family law, and personal injury and, as such, carry less severe consequences, generally monetary damages or injunctions. 

What does a criminal defense lawyer do?

A criminal defense lawyer represents those charged with crimes. Although possible to represent yourself, criminal justice is an extremely demanding discipline that the average person doesn’t have a sufficient understanding of.

Poor legal representation can be the difference between winning and losing a case and the severity of the subsequent punishment. By hiring a criminal defense lawyer you are represented by a knowledgeable individual who works to prove your innocence or lessen your sentence.

Throughout the course of a criminal case, a criminal defense lawyer completes many roles, acting as a guide, protector, and confidant for the defendant, whether the accused crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Pre-trial, a criminal defense lawyer accompanies the defendant during questioning, looks for insufficient evidence or improper procedure to drop charges and can enter into a plea bargain. If the defendant is battling a strong case and will be found guilty at trial, a criminal defense lawyer can work to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to reduce charges or punishment. 

Should the case go to trial, you can expect your criminal defense lawyer to research the case thoroughly, gather evidence, examine witnesses, assess the potential sentence and likelihood of, and try to negotiate deals with the prosecutors. 

No two criminal cases are ever the same, which is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to understand all the nuances of your case and the laws and arguments that can work in your favor. 

If you have been accused of a crime it is vitally important to get in touch with an experienced criminal lawyer with legal knowledge needed to fight your corner. To help, LegalBreeze created ez-estimate, a feature that shows you how much a lawyer typically charges for a specific service in your area, whatever you have been accused of. 


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