Defending Yourself in a Criminal Prosecution
Protecting Your Constitutional Rights in a Criminal Proceeding
When you’re arrested and charged with committing a crime, or under investigation for alleged criminal activity, the sooner you can hire an experienced attorney, the better able you’ll be to protect your rights. Your lawyer can make certain that law enforcement officers don’t violate your rights under the 4th Amendment and that there’s probable cause for any search, seizure, or arrest.
At The Legal Café, we have the tools and resources to connect you to aggressive and experienced criminal defense counsel. Complete our online form or stop by the Café at 114 Main Street in the courthouse district in Fort Worth.
Different Types of Criminal Charges
There are generally three different categories of criminal charges, based on the seriousness of the offense:
- The least serious criminal violations are known as infractions or ordinance violations. They often involve property offenses, such as violation of zoning or housing codes, but can also include minor traffic violations, fishing or boating without a license, jaywalking, leash law violations, and public consumption of alcohol. Most infractions are handled at the city or county level and are punishable only by fine.
- Misdemeanors are more serious criminal violations but do not rise to the level of a felony. Misdemeanors may involve jail time of one year or less, usually served in city or county jail. Misdemeanors may be based on local, state, or federal laws. Some cities and states make a distinction between ordinary and gross misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors are more serious and can result in harsher penalties. Common misdemeanors include:
- Some drunk driving charges
- Minor drug crimes, including simple possession
- Petty theft or larceny (involving goods under a certain value)
- Simple assault and/or battery
- Minor sex offenses, such as indecent exposure, prostitution, and solicitation
- Cyberbullying or cyberstalking
- Resisting arrest
- The most serious criminal offenses are classified as felonies. The penalties for conviction of a felony typically include incarceration in a state or federal prison for more than one year. Felonies include:
- Grand theft (of goods exceeding a specific value)
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Serious sexual offenses, such as rape, molestation, or sexual assault
- Serious drug offenses, including trafficking, conspiracy, manufacturing or cultivation, or possession with intent to sell
- Homicide, including murder and manslaughter
Take steps today to find strong criminal defense counsel. Fill out our online form or come to the Café to protect your constitutional rights.
What Are the Unique Factors Involved in a Criminal Prosecution?
Criminal proceedings differ significantly from other legal matters like enforcement of contractual rights or personal injury claims. In a criminal prosecution:
- The parties are different – Criminal prosecutions may not be initiated by private citizens but are always brought by a government entity, either state, federal, or municipal.
- The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – This is an extremely high standard, requiring only that the defendant convince the jury of any reasonable doubt of guilt. In most other legal cases, the plaintiff has the burden to prove only that their version of the facts is more likely to be true than the defendant’s.
- The potential consequences are different – With a criminal violation, the court can order jail or prison time, fines, community service, and restitution. With other types of legal matters, the common result is that one party pays the other party for his or her losses.
What Are My Basic Rights When Suspected of or Charged with a Crime?
The United States Constitution guarantees certain rights to anyone charged with a crime or under investigation for criminal acts:
- The 4th Amendment bans unreasonable search and seizure, requiring probable cause before any search, seizure, or arrest may be conducted or made.
- The 5th Amendment guarantees the right to a grand jury, protects against self-incrimination, and forbids a person from being tried more than once for the same offense.
- The 6th Amendment guarantees a number of protections, including the right to call witnesses, the right to confront witnesses against you, the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to trial by an impartial jury, and the right to counsel.
Let The Legal Café Help You Find Qualified Criminal Defense Counsel
Complete our online form or stop by the Café to connect to a proven criminal defense attorney.