Criminal Law: The Job of a Top Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal justice involves legal rules created by a legislative body of government. The criminal laws in the United States are primarily handed down from our European ancestors, since Great Britain, France, Spain, and other nations sent settlers here to find the New World. Historically, the religious teachings of the Judeo-Christian world were the bedrock for enactment of criminal charges in our laws.
From the sheriffs of old England to the local police, county sheriffs, state patrol, and FBI in America, the roles of criminal law enforcement have changed very little. The criminal investigator (i.e., police officer or detective) looks at crime scenes or does background checks on the suspect and draws conclusions of criminality from those findings.
Laws in any nation are designed to keep member of the public safe. By enacting statutes describing acts of criminality, the penal code of each jurisdiction outlined what constitutes "criminal activities." This way, the public knows what acts to not engage in, else the person be subjected to arrest and possible other criminal punishment.
While early laws a couple of millenniums ago were crimes where criminal intent was clear by the act committed (e.g., murder), or could universally be inferred, newer criminal laws have had to be written to criminalize actions merely because the act occurred, like traffic tickets for exceeding the posted speed limit.
The passage of criminal laws is targeted as a deterrent to harmful, disruptive, or wrongful misconduct. Those who violate criminal statutes or ordinances can be incarcerated, be assessed monetary fines and add-ons called surcharges, and can be place on probation, and be exposed to other penalties like banishment.
The criminal justice system in America is complex and is also an adversarial system. By this descriptive phrase, our criminal defense attorneys mean that the "players" are a prosecutor, a criminal defense lawyer near me and a judge, for litigating disputed criminal cases. When you hire a criminal attorney near me, you gain the benefit of that legal professional knowing the local “players” and their tendencies and proclivities.
In nations like Sweden, when criminal charges are alleged, the judge in the criminal court can call upon a "neutral" expert witness that he or she selects, and not accept a hand-picked expert offered by either the Government or the defendant's criminal attorney. This is sometimes called an "inquisitorial" criminal justice system.Civil vs Criminal Law: Civil Law Deals With Non-Criminal Matters
Civil laws in each nation are also largely an outcropping of that country's religious teachings. For example, bankruptcy laws have been in existence worldwide for about a thousand years, but some nations (particular in Asian and middle eastern areas) have severely limited the use of any laws that permit an indebted person to "clear the slate" and start over.
Similarly, divorce laws in many other nations have no laws in place that resemble our country's "no-fault" divorce laws, which are ubiquitous in the USA. Hence, divorce in many nations is rare, but in the United States divorce is as likely as not to occur in most marriages.
The Criminal Definition. By contrast, a criminal law definition means that the law being considered proscribes a person's acts or conduct that is in contravention of established, written laws. In committing the prohibited act, the violator harms or diminishes the rights or assets of others in some way.
When a person commits a crime, he or she (with criminal intent or criminal negligence) exposes himself or herself to a criminal record, jail time, and possible forfeiture of his or her assets or freedom. Particularly with federal crimes, financial penalties can be extreme.Criminal Laws: Felony or Misdemeanor Crimes
Except for minor motor vehicle violations (i.e., parking tickets) or a curfew ordinance or loitering law, accused individuals charged with criminal violations often will require the assistance of an attorney skilled in criminal defense. A criminal defense attorney near me will be trained to prevent her or his client from self-incriminating.
This usually happens by the detainee answering police questions or doing something (like chatting on a cell phone while the officer or his or her video recording system listens in). Such disclosure of facts and information routinely increases the probability that the detained person will be convicted of the crimes charged.
Once a person in custody requests legal counsel, certain protections of an accused individual's legal rights is implicated. Of course, any person can waive the legal rights and protections provided by the American judicial system, and (typically) harm their own interests.
National, state, and local penal codes are in place all over America. Again, in many nations the criminal laws are national in scope, without the multi-level local jurisdictions passing their own laws.
In the American system of justice, less serious crimes are called misdemeanors, and usually have 12 months or less of potential incarceration punishment., plus other legal sanctions. Felony crimes are punishable by a year or more in prison, and can also include capital punishment (execution), for serious violent offenses like murder and egregious sexual offenses, in some states.What Happens in a Criminal Court of Law?
In the simplest of steps, a criminal case begins by the prosecuting officials alleging that a crime has been committed by a person. That case is then logged into that jurisdiction's criminal court system, and assigned a case number, for tracking purposes. The first court appearance is usually an arraignment, which is nothing more than a scheduled court date for the court's judge to advise the accused person with which crime or crimes that he or she is being charged.
If the accused hires a criminal justice attorney, that legal advocate can file written documents called "discovery requests," along with legal challenges to the admissibility of certain police evidence (these are loosely called "motions.") Once both sides have turned over required lists of witnesses and physical evidence (like police video tapes and written reports), the case moves forward to a pre-trial hearing or trial.
The American criminal justice system is much like other nations in that "stare decisis" prevails when judicial interpretation of facts in a current case are in dispute. By this, we mean that a judge presiding over a criminal law case is bound to look back at how higher courts (in that jurisdiction) have previously decided similar legal disputes. which is often called "legal precedent."
If no negotiated settlement can be reached, and the Defendant rejects the prosecutor's plea offer and terms, the case can go forward to either a pre-trial motion hearing or trial (if no motions are required to be ruled upon by the judge before trial occurs). The best criminal defenders file motions to try to eliminate improperly seized evidence, which can sometimes result is a reduction of charges, without going to trial.
Accused defendants need to follow their criminal law attorney's legal advice, since this "inside information" about the likely outcome of your case is the "stock in trade" of the best criminal justice lawyers. It is rare that an entire case is dismissed by a prosecutor’s nolle prosequi, but it can happen.
Written by:Atlanta Criminal Defense AttorneyWilliam C. Head with law offices in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Marietta, GA, Alpharetta, GA, and Atlanta GA. His Atlanta Georgia partners, and Mr. Head have a statewide law practice in case criminal lawyers near me (at your court location) are not willing to fight for your legal rights.