Criminal Law, as opposed to Civil Law, are charges brought by a government entity to an individual based on that person breaking a law classified as a criminal case. Innocent or not, you have the right to fight for your civil rights and ask for a jury trial if you feel you have been wrongfully charged. The justice system allows you to challenge your charges even if you know you are unsure about your guilt under federal and local laws. The fundamental design of the justice system will allow you to stand up for your rights and fight for the entire truth behind your case and situation.
Types of Criminal Charges
Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. Some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state or federal courts usually handle these. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
Assault and Battery and Domestic Violence
- Aggravated Assault is a charge filed when an assault has been committed with the intent to commit murder, rob, or even rape with a deadly weapon that when utilized against another individual, it is likely to result in a serious or deadly injury.
- Aggravated Battery is a charge filed that declares that a defendant maliciously caused harm to another person by making a limb useless or disfigured. This is a felony charge and the conviction of this charge can lead between one to twenty years in prison.
- Domestic Violence is typical a case of assault or battery to a member of your own family.
Hiring an Attorney
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of ones life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work or housing. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested, or if someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential.