Ever since there have been laws, there have been people who have broken them. Crimes such as petty theft, to capital offenses like first degree murder. Those suspected of committing crimes have rights during the criminal justice process, and even those convicted of crimes enjoy protections during their punishment. This is what the criminal law is all about. But we start discussing its implications, let’s get acquainted with the concept.
What is Criminal Law?
Criminal law involves a system of legal rules designed to keep public safe and deter wrongful conduct. Those who violate the law face incarceration, fines, and other penalties. The American criminal justice system is both complex, and adversarial in nature. With the exception of minor traffic violations, accused individuals will require the assistance of an attorney. Specific crimes and the consequences for violating them are found in penal codes enacted by legislators at the local, state, and federal levels. Less serious crimes are classified as misdemeanors. These typically carry a maximum of up to one year in the county jail. Examples include petty theft, possession of small amounts of controlled substances, and first-offense drunk driving.
Crimes of a more serious nature are classified as felonies. These carry punishments of a year or more in state or federal prison. Felonies include violent crimes like murder, burglary, and rape, as well as white collar crimes like embezzlement and money laundering.
When questions arise as to how criminal statutes should be interpreted, judges and lawyers turn to previously issued court opinions dealing with the same issues. This principal is known as “stare decisis.” It means that once a court issues a decision involving a given set of circumstances, that ruling is binding precedent for similar disputes that come before the court on a later date.
Law enforcement agencies have the responsibility of investigating alleged crimes. Procedural rules are in place to ensure police officers respect the constitutional rights of the citizens they investigate. When a defense attorney challenges the legality of a criminal prosecution, most times the dispute is a result of procedural violations by the police.
State vs Federal
The states, since they possess the police power, have the most general power to pass criminal laws in the United States. The federal government, since it can only exercise those powers granted to it by the Constitution – can only pass criminal laws which are related to the powers granted to Congress. For example, drug crimes, which comprise a large percentage of federal criminal cases, are subject to federal control because drugs are a commodity for which there is an interstate market, thus making controlled substances subject to regulation by Congress in the Controlled Substances Act which was passed under the authority of the Commerce Clause. Gonzales v. Raich affirmed Congress’s power to regulate drug possession under the Controlled Substances Act under the powers granted to it by the Commerce Clause.
Criminal Defense Law
Have you been charged with a criminal offense? Regardless of the plea, American citizens enjoy the presumption of innocence and the right to an attorney. Make sure you get the defense you’re entitled to by finding top-notch criminal defense counsel with Super Lawyers. Criminal defense attorneys defend a broad range of criminal charges, from misdemeanors to felonies, and advise a broad range of ages, from juvenile to adult. Criminal defense attorneys are trained and capable of navigating the criminal justice system.
When possible and when in your best interests, they will work to settle your case before trial. Use Super Lawyers to find and hire the best local criminal defense lawyer to help contend the charges against you.
Subsequently, we will be elaborating on certain terminologies involving the criminal law. For more news concerning the criminal law and other laws visit LawsandLoans.com