Criminal law is a system of laws that apply to persons who commit criminal act and must be punished for that by imprisonment and/or fines according to the severity of the offense. Criminal prosecution involves charging an individual for his conduct or omission.
Specific crimes and its consequences included in penal codes enacted at the local, state, and federal levels. Criminal laws vary greatly among the states and the Federal Government. Each state decides what conduct to define as a crime.
There are four general types of criminal laws: felonies, misdemeanors, inchoate offenses, and strict liability offenses. A misdemeanor is a lower level criminal offense, such as minor battery, traffic offenses, or thefts. In most states, the penalty for the misdemeanor crime is typically one year or less.
Felony crimes involve more serious offenses, for example, manslaughter, dealing drugs, rape and robbery. In most states felonies are punished by one year or more, depending on the nature of the offense and the jurisdiction.
An inchoate crime is the crime of preparing for or seeking to commit another crime. It includes attempt, solicitation and conspiracy.
Strict liability crimes are those in which the defendant is held liable for a criminal offense, even if mens rea (criminal intent) is absent.
A criminal prosecution can be serious problem for defendants who are not familiar with the legal proceedings. Conducting a trial is not for the amateurs. If person is being accused for a crime against another person (like assault or battery), a crime against property (like burglary), or any other crime, a criminal defense lawyer can help.
Criminal defense attorneys can prevent their clients from doing or saying discreditable things that will be used against them later and increase the possibility of imprisonment.
Without the assistance of an attorney, defendants will often plead guilty at initial stage of the court. By doing so, they are giving up important rights, for example, the opportunity to negotiate the terms of their sentence. Criminal defense attorney is able to perform effective cross-examination, comply with the rules of evidence, and so forth.