Criminal law is the body of law that defines criminal offenses, regulates the apprehension, charging, and trial of suspected persons, and fixes penalties and modes of treatment applicable to convicted offenders.
Your Constitutional Rights
- 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure;
- 5th Amendment rights to remain silent, to due process, and ban on double jeopardy;
- 6th Amendment rights to a speedy public trial, to an impartial jury, to notice of the charges, to confront witnesses, and to be represented by an attorney.*
*there is no right to jury trial in infraction cases.
Criminal Law - Defense Strategies
attack validity of charges
make a plea deal
prepare for trial
A technical defect can weaken the prosecution's case and sometimes results in dismissal. Examples include illegal searches and interrogations, mis-calibrated equipment, police misconduct, and destruction of exculpatory evidence.
Typically the prosecution will offer a plea deal to resolve a criminal case. Under the terms of a plea deal, the defendant waives the right to trial and pleads guilty, no contest, or agrees to complete a pre-plea diversion.
If the defendant cannot make a plea deal with the prosecutor, the judge usually sets a trial date. The defendant has a constitutional right to a trial and cannot be punished for exercising this right. However, due to the risks and cost of trial, most cases are resolved with a plea deal.
Due Process Rights
You are innocent until:
- Proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; OR
- Plead guilty or no contest.
1. You have the Right to a Court or Jury Trial that is speedy and public. You have the right to 12 impartial jurors chosen from the community.
2. You have the Right to an Attorney of your choice to represent you in misdemeanor and felony criminal proceedings. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent you at little or no cost.
3. You have the Right to Confront and Cross-examine Witnesses. The prosecution must bring witnesses to court to testify under oath.
4. You have the Right to Remain Silent and not testify in court. Your silence cannot be used as evidence against you.
5. You have the Right to Produce Evidence and Present a Defense. You have the right to subpoena witnesses and to testify under oath.
Selecting a Criminal Law Attorney
Finding a hard-working, trustworthy criminal law attorney can be difficult. The best idea is to select a lawyer whose legal knowledge, effort, communication, and ability to work with others are the best fit for accomplishing your goals.
A judge can also issue personal conduct orders, including orders to stay away from certain people or places (restraining order). A judge can order that you abstain from alcohol, attend AA meetings, or get counseling for anger management.