Criminal law is the body of law which relates to criminal activity. It prescribes conduct reasonably suspected of being criminal, dangerous, threatening, or otherwise threatening to a person’s property, health, rights, and/or moral welfare. A person charged with any kind of criminal offense is entitled to legal representation. This legal aid is commonly known as “public defenders.”
In theory, criminal law covers all offenses, even those involving things like theft and fraud. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that it cannot rightfully extend constitutional limits to criminal conduct. This “anti-defamation” principle, which bars lawsuits based on defamation, has been interpreted to permit suits against government officials for enforcement of criminal laws in instances where they acted in bad faith.
Criminal law does not include crimes of violence, but there are certain types of crimes that fall under this broad category. Most crimes related to violent crime are categorized as felonies, punishable by years in prison. Other offenses, including most thefts, can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. Most state criminal laws also encompass drug crimes, including possession and cultivation of drugs for personal use and selling or manufacturing drugs.
Criminal defendants usually bring claims of constitutional errors in criminal cases before lower courts or the state supreme court. Felonies and other violent crimes are subject to heightened penalties when brought before a federal district court. States sometimes impose “innocent until proven guilty” statutes, making it impossible to bring a Fourth Amendment case against an alleged offender if there is even the slightest suspicion that the individual may be innocent of the crime in which he is charged. Moreover, in almost all states, a defendant has no constitutional right to a day in court or the presumption of innocence. He is presumed guilty, whatever evidence the state prosecutor may muster against him. He is also compelled to take the same burden of proof that would be imposed on a defendant facing a criminal proceeding in a civil court.
Federal sentencing guidelines follow a system which is designed to give a defendant more leeway in determining the sentence that will be meted out for his crime. Federal sentencing guidelines vary from state to state, so it is important for someone charged with committing a federal offense to seek the help of an experienced defense attorney to ensure that his rights are not being violated. The defendant may be able to reduce his sentence through proper legal counsel. Federal criminal sentencing guidelines can often be found on the Internet.
Because the federal criminal law is quite complex, any defendant facing charges must have an experienced attorney. A lawyer will know which federal laws apply to his client’s situation and can therefore build a strong defense around his client’s rights and freedoms. Any mistakes during a trial can have severe consequences, not only for the defendant but also for the prosecution. There are a number of ways in which a defense attorney may build a strong case against his or her client, including gathering substantial evidence against the defendant, employing secret intelligence sources to determine the state of the evidence against the defendant, talking to witnesses, gathering physical evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant, making sure secret police files are not destroyed, and calling key witnesses to testify about the events of the day the crime was committed.
The penalties for crimes fall into several different categories, including felonies and misdemeanors. A felony is a crime that is punishable by a prison term of more than a year. Almost all felony crimes are punishable by at least a year in prison. Some felonies are punishable by more than a year in prison, while some crimes such as possession of illegal drugs are punishable by years in prison. Some states have made some crimes easier to prosecute, such as possessing a concealed weapon without a license, even if the weapon is not used during the commission of the crime.
Except for mandatory sentences, most felony offenses are punished by a minimum of one year in prison. This may include an additional year for crimes of violent crime or first degree murder. The punishments for other offenses not involving violence are generally at the discretion of the judge. Punishment for a crime may include jail time, but is also dependent upon various factors, including the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime and the impact it has on the victims. Punishment for crimes in the criminal code, including those that fall under the definition of the penal code, is designed to deter crime and provide justice for those who have been accused of criminal acts.