Criminal Law

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What Is Criminal Law?

Photo of a man in handcuffsCriminal law is the body of law that relates to crime and criminal activity. It tends to regulate social conduct that concerns threatening, harming, or otherwise endangering the health, safety, and moral welfare of people.

Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. In a criminal case, the state, through the prosecutor, initiates a suit. A person convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both.

In the United States there are some common law crimes, but most are established by local, state, and federal governments.

Felony or Misdemeanor, What’s the Difference?

  • Felony Crime:

o   These are more serious offenses, like murder and rape.

o   Felonies are typically punishable by imprisonment of a year or more.

  • Misdemeanor Crimes:

o   These are less serious offenses, like petty theft or jaywalking.

o   Misdemeanors are typically punishable by less than a year imprisonment.

  • No Crime:

o   If an act has not been previously established as a crime by common law or statute, then it is not a crime at the time that it is committed.

What Are My Rights When Dealing With The Police?

A lawyer is your best line of defense when wanting to understand your rights as they apply to questioning by the police. Some areas that a lawyer can explain in greater detail include:

  • Questioning by the Police

o   Right to Silence

o   The Miranda Rule

  • Search and Seizure Laws

o   Search Warrants

o   Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

  • Arrests

o   Arrest Warrants

o   Probable Cause

  • Police Misconduct
  • Police Brutality

Lawyers That Handle Criminal Cases

Criminal defense lawyers typically handle criminal cases. Because of criminal law’s vastness, it is strongly advised that you seek professional help in the form of a lawyer. A lawyer will help you to understand the full process of a criminal proceeding, as there can be many overwhelming things, such as bailment, arraignment, preliminary hearings, plea bargains, the trial itself, sentencing, and appeals.

Lastly, it is important to remember that you do have rights in dealing with the police and in a criminal trial. Seeking the professional help of a lawyer is important if you expect to effectively represent and defend yourself.