It is all fun and games until you bump in front of the criminal law. The level of understanding the seriousness of your situation is critical. So I will tell you up front: you need a lawyer when charged with a crime. But let’s get into details and understand exactly why you need an experienced attorney to represent your rights in the court.
First of all, what is Criminal law? It is a system of law concerned with the punishment of those who commit crimes. If you have committed a crime and have been arrested, you probably want to know the basics of Criminal Defense Law. It consists of legal protections afforded to people who are accused of committing a crime. The skills of criminal defendants defense attorney and the substantive protections contained in the law most of the time have equal influence on the issue of the fair treatment for the specific criminal defendant. It is important to note that there is no “one right way”: the best answer and the most effective legal strategy absolutely depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the specific case.
Felonies and Misdemeanors
Moving on, there are usually two types of crimes: felonies or misdemeanors. What usually happens, is that felonies are punished by a sentence of one or more years in prison. On the other hand, misdemeanors are generally punished by one or less year in a county jail. The slight positive side of those is that probation is a possibility, under which you would not serve any time in jail or prison. Misdemeanors concern petty theft, prostitution, public intoxication, simple assaults, trespass, vandalism, etc. On the other hand, felonies are murder, rape, kidnapping, treason, arson, robbery/ burglary, fraud, distribute or possession of illegal drugs, etc.
Criminal cases are not like civil court cases. In civil court cases the problem you generally may be facing concerns money or property loss. However, in criminal cases, if you are suspected of committing a crime, the problem you may be facing concerns your freedom.
Civil court cases
Basically, in civil court, a person sues another person because of a dispute or a problem between them. And this does not only concern people: a business or an agency also can file a case or sue in civil court. When one loses a case in civil court, let it be a person or an organization, may be ordered to pay money to the winning side or return property. However, that person or organization does not go to jail just because of losing the case. Generally, civil courts handle cases about money and debts, property, housing, an injury, marriage, and children. Administrative or government agencies may have hearings to handle civil cases. Those may concern the denial of public benefits such as welfare, food stamps or Medicaid, traffic violations, unemployment hearings and workers compensation, Social Esquire, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, discrimination and civil rights violations.
On the other hand, in criminal court, the government files a case against someone that committed a crime. A little bit of terminology: the defendant is the one who we accuse of crime. And what the government has to do is to prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a very high standard. In the end, if the defendant is found guilty, he or she may face some time in jail or prison.
Do I really need a lawyer?
The criminal justice system, one of the most confusing, complicated and scary systems that there is, is not something to play with. It is true that you have the rights to represent yourself in court. Meanwhile, the advice of a lawyer is invaluable. And I know what you are thinking: you may not have the money to afford a lawyer. Pin this in mind: you may not be able to afford not having a lawyer. Lawyers say, “he or she who represents themselves has a fool for a client.” And there is some truth to this.
Read all you want: will it give you experience?
One of the main reasons why you need a lawyer when charged with a crime that you can’t find everything you need in a book. Basically, in books about the criminal law, you can find laws that define crimes, fix punishments for their violations and mandate courtroom procedures. The practice of criminal law is not easy: not everyone can understand it by reading. I mean, seriously, think about it. Experienced lawyers needed years and years of studying and after that years and years of experience. And only after they may be referred to as great attorneys. As much as we would like to think we know our rights perfectly and can defend ourselves on our own, we can’t be compared to a lawyer that is specialized in criminal law. And it is much more than just knowing the law. There are tricks and tactics one can only learn through experience.
Criminal law: innocents and fools
And sometimes cases are resolved with police closing their files because of insufficient evidence of a crime. In those cases, there is no need to involve the court system. And just like any of us can make mistakes, police officers do too. They accuse people of rape, murder, drug possession, domestic violence. The main reason is the negligent mistakes of officers during the investigation process. Besides mistakes, the issue may concern intentional framing of suspects. It may also concern intentional lying about probable cause to justify an otherwise unlawful search of a home, car or a person.
Usually, what happens is that people know that they are innocent, so they think they can explain the events to the police and that would be it. Experience teaches police officers to disbelieve what suspects tell them. Or a police officer may not have the time or motivation to fully investigate a client’s story. An innocent suspect to goes behind bars. And the suspect has no idea how to clear his/her name. Lawyers specialized in criminal law have experience with representing clients who are innocent. It is not worth trying to prove your innocence yourself and not doing a great job at it. I mean this is your freedom we are talking about.
And this is the critical part. Even before you are arrested, the Constitution of the United States guarantees you some certain rights. Some of them include the right to remain silent, the right to be represented by a lawyer, the right to confront the witnesses against you and the rights not to be stopped and searched without good reason. Knowing your rights will get you out of possible further trouble.
An attorney will be willing to spend time explaining your situation and discussing defense options. Don’t think for too long: talk to a criminal defense lawyer. Remember that getting legal help is critical: protect your rights. Lawyers at Margarian Law Firm will protect your rights. Read more about how to find the best attorney at law in California.