Select Page

Each branch of the law deals with a specific attribute. One of the most common branches of law, criminal law relates to prohibited conduct in society. Criminal law enforces and helps defend against allegations and violations of crimes.

Criminal laws are put into place to protect society and the laws created are created with the belief that they will help protect the general public. Criminal laws are applied to everyone and are not created to target an individual or a specific grouping of people. These laws punish criminal offenders and include retribution and can help prevent additional offenses. The following is a basic overview of what falls under the topic of criminal law.

Laws and Crimes

A simple act is not considered a crime because the behavior is prohibited by the government. It is considered a crime because of the penalties attached to the violation. When a crime is committed, an individual’s freedom is usually at stake when the verdict is given. Crimes also carry maximum penalties and come with jail time at either a local, state or federal facility depending on the nature and context of the crime that has been committed.

Felony and Misdemeanor Offenses

Crimes are classified as misdemeanor offenses or felony offenses. A crime that is considered a felony will come with a jail term at a state (or federal, depending on the nature of the crime) prison for more than a year. Misdemeanors usually carry a maximum penalty of less than a year at a local jail. Many states also have low-level misdemeanors which have no jail time but are punished with fines or community service. Each state has its own set of classifications and subclassifications as such relates to punishment with felonies and misdemeanors.  

Federal, State, and Local Crimes

All levels of the United States government, federal, state and local, can create laws as they see fit, insofar as the state and local laws do not conflict with the U.S. Constitution and the Supremacy Clause. It is the responsibility of the specific level of government to enforce the laws. Anyone charged with a federal crime must answer to the federal court, and if charged by a local government, they must file the paperwork in the appropriate court and supply their attorney to defend the offense.

What is a criminal lawyer

Criminal lawyers are hired to advise clients about the potential consequences of the actions for which they have been charged. Criminal defense attorneys are there to help the client understand criminal law and how their actions may or may not violate certain criminal laws. An attorney (who works on behalf of the government/state) also help law enforcement officials understand how they can best enforce the law.

Criminal Defense Attorneys assist their clients to present a defense and gather evidence for their client in the aid of that defense. It is a criminal lawyers role to evaluate a case and determine the best defense for the case given the facts and circumstances. Defense attorneys have the ability to use various motions to limit the admission (suppression) of potential evidence that is sought to be used by the Government/State if such evidence was obtained illegally (without a warrant) or through an illegal means (forced confession). While every case and set of facts will vary, the defense attorney often employs a trial strategy that is aimed at the dismissal of the charges (if possible) or if the charges cannot be reduced due to the evidence against the Defendant, a reduction in the charges to ensure that the Defendant both learns from their mistake while simultaneously not being unnecessarily punished.