Because the legal system is so complex, attorneys focus on specific areas. For instance, the field of criminal law covers a lot of ground. Learning the law takes time and effort, but a basic understanding of criminal law is possible even for laymen, and useful if charged with a crime.
What Constitutes Criminal Law?
Legal matters are categorized as either civil or criminal. While civil cases are settled with money, criminal cases demand discipline. Criminal violations include violent and sexual crimes, property crimes and numerous other offenses. This extends to compelling others to commit a crime, or concealing the crimes of others.
Am I a Criminal?
While nobody wants this label, the list of unlawful acts is long and the penalties are wide in scale. Based on their seriousness, crimes may be classed as infractions, misdemeanors or felonies. Infractions are typically resolved with a fine instead of arrest. Misdemeanors are more severe, being punishable by up to a year in jail. However, in practice, jail time is regularly reduced or replaced with probation. Felony convictions for the worst crimes come with prison terms of several years to life, or even death, plus continued consequences after release.
Complicating this system, the lines between categories of crime change between jurisdictions, and even between individual prosecutors and judges. Additionally, some states define further subclasses of felonies and misdemeanors. Offenders may be surprised by harsh sentences for seemingly minor crimes.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Crimes above an infraction require a reliable criminal defense attorney Hackensack NJ to ensure your rights as a defendant are respected. Attorneys act as a buffer against hostile authorities. If this isn’t enough, the law operates through intricate regulations which most ordinary people can’t manage, particularly under pressure. With a lawyer, your paperwork is placed in capable hands. Most importantly, attorneys can challenge the prosecution on an equal footing when arguing or bargaining on your behalf.
Anyone accused of a crime should know enough about criminal law to keep calm until finding a lawyer. Hopefully, though, such knowledge will never be needed.