Understanding Criminal Laws – Including Criminal Defense Attorneys
Criminal law is actually the body of civil law that revolves around crime. It specifically prescribes legal conduct construed as detrimental, dangerous, or threatening to another person’s property, health, security, and moral well-being. Criminal law also includes other categories of law such as civil law, corporate law, contract law, family law, probate law, immigration law, tax law, trusts, charitable law, and criminal defense. In United States, criminal law is governed by a divided system of laws that are usually laid out by the federal government and some states have their own variations. In state courts, however, criminal cases are commonly tried in juries of twelve people, with six attorneys for each side. The jury panel must be unanimous in its decision in order to convict someone of any crime.
The main difference between civil law and criminal law is that civil law deals with disputes between private parties, whereas criminal law is associated with state officials and government agencies. The role of a judge or lawyer in civil court is to argue a party’s claim and to obtain a settlement. On the other hand, a prosecutor in criminal court seeks to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond all reasonable doubt. In both civil and criminal law, there are punishments that can be given to the defendant, ranging from probation to imprisonment. For more detailed information, please see our website.
In the United States, the punishment for various crimes can be influenced by the nature of the crime itself and by the surrounding circumstances. Generally speaking, the harshest punishments in criminal law are those reserved for major offenses like murder, rape, arson, and burglary. Less severe penalties can be awarded for lesser offenses. In general, longer prison sentences are given for more serious crimes and shorter ones for lesser ones. For example, a person who shot a person over an argument about shooting a bear, rather than attempting to prevent the attack, would receive a shorter prison sentence.
Criminal defense attorneys deal with cases of criminal law in the same way that any other attorney does. They try the case using their knowledge and experience to protect the rights of their clients. This is a particularly important part of the criminal justice system, which aims to provide the most appropriate punishment for each and every accused person. One important factor in the effectiveness of criminal laws is deterrence. Punishment must be meaningful enough to discourage criminals from committing the same crime; it cannot just be an opportunity for the criminal to get off with a slap on the wrist.
According to some studies, over ninety percent of crimes in the United States are committed by repeat offenders. These criminals often start out with little or no criminal history at all. Some may have been arrested or convicted of only one crime while others have been arrested for multiple offenses. The difficulty of being branded with multiple crimes, combined with potential recidivism, means that these criminals remain in violation of the law for life. Criminals know that the penalties for their criminal acts will be severe, so they choose offenses that result in lesser penalties.
Deterrence is the driving principle behind many legal systems around the world. By putting strong penalties on criminal offenders, judges and juries send a clear message to these individuals that the severity of their criminal offense is equivalent to the severity of the crimes they committed. This in turn deters these criminals from repeating the same crime. If you or a loved one have been accused of, charged with, or convicted of any criminal offense, it is vital that you retain a lawyer with experience in handling criminal cases. A qualified attorney can bring you to trial before a judge and get you the outcome you deserve.