Criminal Law prescribes the rules that we as civilized people must respect and live by in order to keep our society from collapsing into chaos.
When you're charged with a crime more serious than a routine traffic violation or a very minor offense you'll usually want to be represented by a good criminal lawyer because of the potential consequences.
Rights of Defendants in Criminal Cases
The defendant has a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Any search and seizure must be based on probable cause and generally must be made pursuant to a search warrant. Probable cause is a legally sufficient basis to believe that evidence of a crime will be found on the person or property to be searched.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the defendant the right to refuse to answer questions whose answers may tend to incriminate him.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment by the government of those accused of or convicted of crimes.
Defenses To Crimes
If you have done something that ordinarily constitutes a crime, is there any way out? Yes, if you can prove that you had a valid legal excuse or justification for your actions.
Unconsciousness may in some cases be a defense to a criminal charge. However, unconsciousness caused by voluntary intoxication is available only as a partial defense to an offense requiring specific intent and is no defense at all to a crime of general intent such as assault with a deadly weapon. Both act and intent together or criminal negligence must exist in every crime and is deemed to exist regardless of unconsciousness arising from voluntary intoxication.
When a defendant enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the insanity, the jury first tries him to determine his guilt or innocence in the commission of the crime. If he is found not guilty, he is released, and there is no need for the jury to consider the insanity factor. If he is found guilty, the jury then hears evidence to determine his mental state at the time of the offense. If the jury determines the defendant was insane at the time of the offense and evidence indicates he is now fully recovered, the judge will dismiss criminal charges and release him. If the jury determines that the defendant was insane at the time of the offense and evidence indicated he is still not fully recovered, the judge will commit the defendant to a mental health facility as authorized by law. The judge may order the defendant committed as either an inpatient or an out-patient, depending on the situation and the defendant's mental health. If, after hearing the evidence, the jury finds the defendant was sane at the time of the offense and has been found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced for the crime as allowed under the law.
Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations apply to both civil and criminal offenses and limit the amount of time that may legally pass between the time the offense was either committed or discovered and the filing of criminal charges
There are some serious crimes such as murder for which there is no statute of limitations.