Criminal law involves government prosecution of an individual for an act that is classified as a crime. Criminal cases are tried through a state prosecutor who initiates the criminal law cases. Individuals who are convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or a combination of both.
Local, state, and federal governments primarily define criminal law. Criminal law crimes include both felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are serious criminal offenses such as murder or rape and misdemeanors are less serious criminal offenses including petty theft or jaywalking. Felonies are punishable most of the time for a minimum of one year in prison and misdemeanors for less than a year.
Most criminal law crimes consist of two key elements; an act and a mental state. Criminal law prosecutors have to prove all elements of the criminal law crime to gain a conviction. In addition, the criminal law prosecutor must convince a jury or judge ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ of all facts needed to validate the guilt of the crime charged.
The best hope in a criminal case is to have a criminal attorney give you legal help. They are the greatest way to protect your rights and secure the best possible deal for your case. Criminal defense lawyers will know what the best and worst case scenarios are and properly advise you of your legal rights based on the crime with which you have been charged. If you don’t use a criminal defense attorney, you could be jeopardizing your future.