Criminal defense attorneys and public defenders represent defendants charged with crimes in state, appellate, and federal courts. Criminal lawyers handle a wide variety of criminal cases, ranging from domestic violence crimes, sexual assault, drug addiction, fraud, impaired driving (DUI), or theft, including embezzlement and fraud. The scope of their representation can include everything from plea bargains, trial advocacy, parole hearings, and appeals.
In a criminal case, there are generally two types of attorneys who represent clients:
- Criminal defense lawyers (private lawyers and court-appointed public defenders) – represent the accused (defendant)
- Government prosecutors – represent the government in the case brought against the accused person
Some people can afford to hire an attorney of their choosing to represent them in their case. In many cases, the defendant cannot afford to hire one. The court can appoint counsel, at the government’s expense, for indigent defendants who qualify. Public defenders are appointed by the court for defendants who cannot afford to hire private counsel.
In contrast, a prosecutor works for the government and aims to prove the guilt of the accused. The government hires district attorneys to prosecute defendants in important cases. A public official acts as prosecutor for the state or the federal government in court in a particular district. Their job is to bring before the court solid evidence proving that the accused is indeed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the legal burden of proof required to affirm a conviction in a criminal case.
Types of cases handled by criminal lawyers
As discussed, criminal lawyers have a responsibility to defend the rights of the accused. They review the case against their defendant to determine a strategy, any applicable defenses, and may negotiate with prosecutors about essential elements of the case. They should be in regular contact with the defendant and gather as much information as possible about the case. Through experience, they will understand the potential strengths and weaknesses of the case. They can then develop effective defensive strategies.
- Crimes against another person
A crime against another occurs when an individual causes physical or mental harm to another. There are multiple types of crimes against another person. Some of the worst types include murder, assault, and sexual offenses. Death caused by injuries received in a fight, argument, quarrel, assault, or commission of a crime may be charged as a murder. For example, there have been cases where people who caused a fatality while driving under the influence (DUI) have been charged with murder.
An experienced DUI Lawyer in Philadelphia can assist you if you have been charged with a serious crime related to DUI.
On the other hand, not all homicides are murder. Some homicides are charged as manslaughter, which is a lesser crime than murder. Other homicides could be lawful, such as when justified by an affirmative defense, like insanity or self-defense.
- Crimes related to property
Most offenses against the property of others are punishable by law. The most serious crimes related to property are burglary, larceny, automobile theft, and arson. Trespass can also be a crime against the property of another. Property crime in the United States can include the unlawful destruction or taking of property belonging to someone or something else without force or threat of force against a victim (threat of force would give rise to another crime – assault).
Although many property offenders have been convicted, many have been able to prove their innocence. An attorney can help to prove your innocence and expose loopholes in a prosecutor’s case. They will present facts at trial that prove the accused’s innocence.
- Statutory violations
Statutory violations are committed when an individual knowingly breaks the law. Either the individual knew of the law’s existence, have implicitly agreed to follow the law (such as with traffic laws), or the law is so well known as to be expected to be common knowledge. Ignorance of a law is seldom a defense. Law is a legislative act that enables or prohibits specific acts in a jurisdiction, such as drug dealing, traffic violations, or tax evasion.
Having an experienced criminal attorney is, in this case, critical. They can assess the prosecutor’s strengths and develop adequate safeguards to protect you. A criminal attorney also understands how judges and prosecutors handle similar cases and can negotiate a lower fee or minimum sentence.
- Financial crime
This is a subcategory of a property crime because money is, in essence, property. Financial crimes are fraudulent acts carried out by individuals for economic gain. When one party benefits, the other party suffers financially. Some commonly committed financial crimes are money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, and embezzlement.
The financial sector is prone to fraud due to its complex nature. Therefore, it is imperative to take appropriate measures to combat financial crimes effectively. Specific organizations such as the US-based Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are also on the front lines checking and combating the possibility of financial fraud in domestic and global transactions.
Should You Consult A Legal Professional?
Facing a criminal charge is exhausting both mentally and physically because there is so much at stake. A legal professional can help defendants comprehend the charges against them and develop the best defensive approach.
Being accused of a crime is not a minor issue. It puts your current and future plans at stake. A criminal charge can derail your life, especially if you are found guilty. You could spend years away from family and friends for a crime that you may or may not have committed. That is why it is so crucial not to take risks under these circumstances.
An attorney can help to minimize the allegations through skillful negotiation and prior existing relationships with prosecutors. If criminal penalties are imposed, they may be able to reduce them by understanding how to argue mitigating factors. With proper representation, you may be able to return to your life and get your career back on track without having to disclose a criminal history.
Contact a Philadelphia criminal lawyer to help you with any legal problems. If you have been charged with a crime, do not face prosecutors alone. Please contact us right away.