Welcome to LegalAdvice.com expert page on the topic of Criminal Law. Criminal law covers many different types of topics including both the procedural rules of the criminal law process and the substantive elements of a particular crime.
Criminal law is the body of laws that is concerned with the treatment of a person or persons that commit a crime. The system of rules is intended to prohibit and even deter specific conduct that is harmful to the safety and moral welfare of society. Criminal law is distinguished from civil law in which disputes are resolved with monetary compensation as opposed to criminal law which mainly focuses on punishment or rehabilitation.
The penal code allows for a multitude of conditions that may negate the elements of a crime, these are commonly referred to as legal defenses. In circumstances in which a defendant is alleged to have committed a crime, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime by a standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. A criminal defendant is permitted to present a defense that rebuts a prosecutors claim and may do so through a variety of means. The legal system recognizes justification, excuse, alibi, and procedural misconduct as possible legitimate defense to a crime. There are a variety of defenses that an attorney can claim if applicable such as a mental disorder (insanity), intoxication, mistake of fact, necessity, self defense, duress and more. A qualified attorney should advise their client on the probability of successfully raising a meritorious defense that would result in an acquittal.
An arrest occurs when the police authority take a person into custody and deprive that person from being able to walk away and exercise their Constitutional freedoms to leave. A police officer may make an arrest after personally observing a crime committed or the officer has ‘probable cause’ to believe that person committed a crime or there is a valid arrest warrant executed by a judge. The police authority are obligated to follow legal protocols during the arrest process and to respect the Constitutional rights of any person taken into custody. An individual has a right to have an explanation provided to them that that the person is free to protect oneself against self-incrimination as provided under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and further expanded upon in the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona.
A search conducted against a person at the time of arrest allows for the police to conduct such search so as to protect themselves against any potential weapons on the person. Police may also conduct a search so as to the prevent the potential destruction of evidence. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provides some limits for government to search a person. Nevertheless, subject to limitations imposed by the courts, there has been a general determination that the police have broad powers to search a person in custody at the time of arrest.
The operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs to a level of intoxication that renders the driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle is a criminal offense. Many states have laws that specifically set the legal limit of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) that a person may have while operating a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence or DUI is a criminal offense in which a person can be charged with a crime when the BAC exceeds the set limit. A BAC level of more than 0.08 is a ‘per se’ presumption of guilt in all 50 states. A person that is stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving that has a 0.08 BAC will be found guilty of DUI regardless of whether there was any actual impairment of driving.
A person that is facing a criminal charge, even when only for a minor charge, you should seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer. A qualified criminal attorney will assist in protecting the legal rights of their clients at every procedural step of a criminal case. A person without sufficient money to hire an attorney will likely be assigned a public defender provided by the state. A person that wants to hire their own lawyer should determine whether they can receive a free consultation to help assess the merits of their case. During the consultation a client can learn whether the attorney has had similar can that they have won. It is also important to learn how many years the attorney has been practicing. During a review of the case with the attorney try to learn the options available to resolve the matter and the time-frame involved for each scenario. The cost for obtaining legal representation should be clearly written into any retainer agreement. A client must be certain to have all questions answered, including how often will the lawyer intends to be in contact so as to provide update on the status of the case. A criminal case is a very serious matter and it is extremely important that a client find the right attorney in which a relationship of trust and confidence extends beyond the already special confidential relationship afforded by the attorney-client privilege. A client must be confident that the attorney will always be a zealous advocate at every step of the criminal proceeding.