Also known as penal law, Criminal Law is the system of statutory and common laws that determine the legal punishment for actions deemed to be either dangerous to citizens or damaging to society (i.e., crimes). There are three basic types of crimes:
- The most serious types of crimes are felonies. A felony, such as second-degree murder, armed robbery, or rape, is punishable by more than a year of imprisonment, as well as by fines.
- Less serious than felonies are misdemeanors. A misdemeanor, such as simple assult or basic theft, is punishable by less than a year of incarceration and fines.
- Finally, infractions are the least serious of crimes, including offenses such as traffic violations, and are only punished by fines.
Regardless of the crime, a criminal defense attorney's job is to ensure that your rights are defended in court. Those who violate criminal law can be subject to a number of penalties, including fines, imprisonment, probation, community service, and execution. The age and mental state of the accused play an important role in determining the degree of guilt, and consequently, the punishment. Criminal law differs from civil law in that it is enforced by the government and not by private parties. An experienced criminal defense lawyer has a thorough knowledge of state and federal law. Anyone accused of a crime has the right to a criminal defense lawyer and to a speedy trial by jury. If you have been arrested, defend your rights by hiring an experienced criminal lawyer.