Every country has established criminal laws to secure individual interests and for the survival of the community. Criminal law works on the premise that a crime is an act or conduct which is morally wrong. Penalties and punishments were sanctioned in proportion to the guilt of the accused.
There are different views as to why criminal laws are established. The main theories for criminal laws are:
- To deter crimes
- To Reform the Criminal
- To provide retribution
- To prevent further crimes.
None of these theorists are exclusive or dispositive.
The criminal laws vary from State to State in the US. Hence, the penalty for the crime also depends on the jurisdiction. However, federal criminal law statutes apply to all the states in the US.
Criminal law specifies the following:
- It defines criminal offenses
- Regulates the apprehension of the suspected individuals
- Court trial to prove the guilt
- Penalties and punishments for the guilty
When a crime is committed, the law enforcement authorities investigate the crime. The authorities need to adhere to the procedural rules and ensure that they respect the constitutional rights of the individual when investigations are being carried out against him/her.
The individual against whom the criminal charges are being investigated has the right to engage a criminal defense attorney as soon he finds that a case is being built against him. A good criminal lawyer will explain the rights of the defendant to him and advise him on what exactly he needs to say or do.
Criminal laws are of two types:
These are considered as lower levels of criminal offenses. Minor assaults, petty thefts, traffic offenses, etc. come under this category. Misdemeanor crimes have a penalty of one year or less.
Serious offenses like murder, rape, drug dealing, arson, robbery, etc. qualify as felonies. These offenses have a penalty of one year or more depending on the severity of the crime.
For both misdemeanor and felonies, arraignment is held in an open court in which the judge the nature of the charges against the defendant asking for a plea. It is recommended that the defendant has an attorney on his side at this time. This is because a criminal defense lawyer can guide him on what he should say or not say so that his case is not weakened.
Another important stage in a criminal case is the “discovery proceedings”. This allows the defendant to ask the law enforcement department for the evidence gathered against him. The defendant can ask for video recordings, lab results, etc.
A criminal case proceeds to the stage of a court trial if the plea bargain offered by the court is unacceptable to the defendant.
If the case goes for a court trial, the public prosecutor presses charges against the defendant based on the evidence collected. He can also summon witnesses supporting the case against the defendant to testify in court.
The defense counsel or the defendant’s attorney tries to prove the innocence of his client.
The defendant is declared guilty by the court only if the prosecution can prove him guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.
The trial is held in the presence of a Judge and a jury.
Johnson & Autry Law Firm has an experienced team of expert criminal lawyers who can successfully defend your case!