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Criminal Law

Criminal Law

What Are the Different Types of Criminal Law Cases?

April 13, 2018

Criminal law covers all offenses by an individual against the State. A crime is always against the State, and when a criminal is punished, it is a retribution for the State. There are several types of criminal law cases that are tried in the courts. These crimes are generally categorized into General Offenses, DUI/Traffic Offenses, Sex Offenses, White Collar Crimes, and other miscellaneous offenses that can be tried in courts.

General offenses include aggravated assault, kidnapping, manslaughter, robbery, murder, embezzlement, false statements, perjury, resisting arrest, theft, among other crimes that fall under general offenses. Crimes that fall under traffic/DUI are drag racing, aggravated driving, aggravated DUI, driving on suspended license, endangerment, reckless driving, extreme DUI, and misdemeanor DUI among others.

Sex offenses are those committed against the chastity of the person. Whether you are a man or a woman, so long as you were offended in some way in relation to your person, pertaining to your gender, the act itself can still be considered as a sex offense. This includes sex abuse, molestation of a child, sex assault, public sexual indecency, computer crimes, failure to register as a sex offender, and public misconduct with a minor.

White collar crimes are those that are considered as environmental crimes, fraudulent schemes, extortion, money laundering, professional licensing issues, regulatory crimes, and racketeering.

Even with the diversity of crimes that are adjudicated daily, once you are charged with any of these crimes, or you happen to be a victim, you should seek out the counsel of a good lawyer to defend you and your rights in the proper court of law. While it is true that anyone can file a criminal case in the courts, it is imperative for you to seek the advice of a good criminal lawyer. If you were the victim, and you happen to find yourself terribly abused, you always have the option to seek redress in court. And, if you are the one arrested because of a criminal charge, you are also entitled to equal protection by the court since you are still presumed innocent until the court has convicted you of the crime being charged.

Crimes against the person per se, such as murder, vehicular manslaughter, assault, and rape usually involve a greater degree of punishment since life was directly inflicted upon. Although in rape, depending on the circumstances, life may have not been taken but the injury caused is always for a lifetime. More often, these cases capture the public interest than petty crimes such as shoplifting or drug possession. On the other hand, robbery, perjury, and computer crimes are adjudged based on the degree of damage that the criminals have caused either against the person or the property.

 

Criminal Law

Criminal Law – What Is the Standard of Proof?

March 31, 2018

In the common law system which is used in the legal systems such as Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia there is a very important principle of the criminal law which has existed in the legal systems of these countries from the time that is was first developed in the original England common law system. This principle is that a defendant in a criminal law case has the protection of the presumption of innocence. A defendant in the legal systems of these countries is innocent until proven guilty. This contrasts with the systems of civil law which have been adopted in continental Europe in countries such as France, Italy and Germany which have an inquisitorial system of justice where the judge can gather evidence independently of the parties appoint their own investigators in order to gather evidence.

So what does the presumption of evidence mean in terms of the trial? This means that the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime in question in the trial beyond a reasonable doubt. It is notoriously indistinct as to how this is likely to be defined and in terms of instructing juries, a judge must confine their directions to the jury to the application of the law to the facts rather than directions about the facts and evidence. Naturally, in a jury trial, a voir dire (a trail within a trial) can also be used in order to identify if a particular pieces of evidence which are able to be admitted in the trail. Once a piece of evidence is deemed admissible, the jury allowed to consider it in its deliberations about the evidence. In practice, judges often refer to a 90% certainty that the defendant committed a crime in order to enter a verdict of guilty and there have been phrases such as ‘the absence of any material uncertainty’ or ‘A rational belief which is supported by the vast majority of available evidence’ in order to describe the level of proof which is required. The more general justification for the principle is that it is better to set 9 guilty people free rather than let 1 innocent person to jail.

 

Criminal Law

Florida State and Federal Maritime Criminal Laws – What Boaters Need to Know

December 18, 2017

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and many Florida law enforcement agencies, such as the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Martin County Sheriff’s Office and many more law enforcement agencies enforce Florida state and federal maritime and fishing laws, including maritime criminal laws such as Boating under the Influence (BUI). Although many boaters are familiar with general boating safety laws, most are not aware of even a small percentage of state and federal maritime regulations. This article discusses just a few of the laws more commonly enforced by law enforcement.

Law Enforcement officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (formerly the Florida Marine Patrol), sheriff’s deputies of all Florida counties, and any other authorized law enforcement officer, has the legal authority to enforce all boating safety laws, including laws relating to personal watercraft, and has the right to inspect all boats and personal watercraft according to Florida law. It is significant to note that a law enforcement officer may stop any vessel for the purpose of checking the boats safety equipment.

Because of the complexity of state and federal maritime criminal regulations, if you are arrested or cited for violation of such laws, it is important that you contact a Florida maritime criminal defense attorney.

Florida maritime criminal laws are found in Sections 327 and 328 of the Florida Statutes.Below is a sampling of some of the laws contained in Sections 327 and 328.

Boat and Personal Watercraft Accidents and Injuries

The operator boat or personal watercraft in an accident where a passenger or other boat operator is injured (other than those that may be dealt with by basic first aid), or involving death or disappearance, or if there is damage to the vessel ($2,000 or more), under law has the duty to give notice to a local sheriff’s office or police or the FFWCC. It is illegal for any operator of a boat or other vessel to leave the scene without providing aid and for failing to report the incident.

Recklessly Operating a Boat or Personal Watercraft

It is illegal to operate a boat or personal watercraft in a reckless manner. An operator is guilty of reckless operation of a vessel if he or she operates the vessel in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manger as to endanger, or likely to endanger other persons or to damage other’s property. Any operator who violates this law is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and may be sentenced up to a year in jail.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

It is illegal in Florida to operate a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like a driver or a car, a boat or personal watercraft operator must submit to sobriety tests and breathalyzer (or blood or urine) exams to determine BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). Under Florida law, an operator is presumed to be impaired if the BAC is .08 or above. Note that operators may still be arrested and convicted with a BAC less than.08 if they are impaired. Florida takes a tough stance on underage boating and drinking. Any operator under 21 years who is found to have a BAC of.02 or higher while operating the vessel is guilty of a BUI. Further, enhanced jail sentences exist for BAC levels of .15 or above and for operating a boat or personal watercraft with a BAC of .07 or above with a minor (under 18) on board.

Manatee Laws

Manatees are protected by under Florida state and federal law. The penalties are significant. Under Florida law, it is unlawful to harass manatees. Meaning, you may be arrested for chasing or feeding manatees. If you are found to disrupt a manatee’s normal behavior, you may be fined up to $50,000 and/or one year in jail.

Many other state and federal maritime regulations exist, which may subject you to prosecution, from violations of the Endangered Species Act to immigration laws at sea. If you are the subject prosecution for any state or federal maritime criminal statute, it is important to you exercise your right to remain silent and speak to an attorney right away.

 

Criminal Law

Adultery Criminal Laws and Their Effects

November 13, 2017

Adultery is also known as philandery or infidelity is basically a form of extramarital sex. Originally it referred to sex between a married woman and another person other than her spouse. Illegal in some countries, its difference from rape is that while rape involves use of force; adultery is voluntary. Having a Judeo-Christian origin, the concept is present in almost all religious factions of the world.

Committing adultery brings up several consequences like an enraged spouse at home and possible dissolution of the family and supportive life. Despite the fact that such family and supportive life was built up with a lot of efforts on part of the couple involved, adultery can disrupt their life. On the other hand adultery criminal laws in force in the country where it is committed can bring up serious consequences for the offender. In any case it could constitute pertinent grounds for fault based divorce.

Legal consequences of adultery that is considered a criminal act, does not end with divorce alone. It could result in a civil lawsuit against the spouse committing adultery. Besides the emotional trauma as well as the fallout faced by the subjects of adultery and consequential criminal laws, they could even land up in jail serving punishment on criminal charges.

Scenario is however changing pretty rapidly. Only few states in United States have adultery statute in place. Many states on the other hand abolished the statute altogether. Of course the states like Florida are an exception that still considers the adulterer as criminal. Open adultery is still a punishable criminal offence in Florida. Unique feature of adultery criminal laws in Florida is that even though only one of the persons involved in adultery is married, both can be charged with criminal offences of open adultery.

Thus, in Florida a person guilty of open adultery can face imprisonment up to 60 days and fines up to $500. In addition such person will also have a criminal record adding insult to injuries. In result it would be difficult getting jobs, loans, and other such financial and career benefits.

People charged with commitment of adultery should consult an efficient and reputable criminal lawyer to get appropriate advice. Such lawyer would be the right person for protecting the civil rights of the client.

 

Criminal Law

On the Role of the Criminal Law Clerk

August 1, 2017

In every industry, there are those who work behind the scenes to ensure that the activities of each organization are carried out accurately and efficiently. The hallmark sound of the Prussian stamp thudding against a sheet paper has for centuries announced the presence of such individuals, and while the methodology of clerical work has largely changed with the advent of the computer age, that same sound still resounds in the offices of criminal law, where the might of traditional and ceremonial custom is brought face-to-face with the fast-paced, high-tech processes of the modern age. This clash between the past and the present requires a unique skill-set to master, paramount of which are the abilities to master archaic terminology, modern mediums of communication, and above all, to develop an adaptive frame of mind.

There are a number of words and phrases which, when used properly, serve to make criminal procedures all but incomprehensible to the layman. Phrases such as “Comes Now,” and “Counsel of Record,” may cause the average reader to pause, while phrases like “In Pari Delicto,” or “Sua Sponte,” are confounding in the extreme – not the least because they are words taken from a dead language. For an effective criminal law clerk, however, such phrases and words must at the very least be familiar, as courts often demand their usage in official documents for the sake of tradition and professionalism. Even without an adept’s understanding of Latin, a criminal law clerk must be prepared to place these terms throughout legal documents appropriately and, perhaps more importantly, know when to omit these terms. Whereas the absence of these traditional terms might be tolerated by a judge, the incorrect placement of those terms might change the meaning of an entire document, and make it inadmissible to court records. So far as efficiency is concerned, there is nothing worse than being forced to do the same work twice.

While archaic terminology is a basic requirement necessary for all effective law clerks to master, one surprisingly overlooked qualification is a mastery of the modern modes of communication. This includes methods such as email, faxing and even properly formatted postal envelopes. Of these three, properly formatted and professionally appearing envelopes are perhaps the most crucial, as many courts require original documents and do not accept facsimile or electronic copies. To be familiar with proper mail-address formatting may seem a given – yet, such a familiarity implies intimate knowledge of word-processing programs and printer capabilities, as handwritten envelopes are, to say the least, unprofessional. That said, knowledge of fax systems and the process of emailing is also critical; as more and more courts begin to accept digital copies of documents, law clerks are required to be familiar with professionally structured and properly formatted e-docs.

Given the variation between what sorts of documents courts will and will not accept, the most important qualification of a criminal law clerk is that of adaptability. Understanding that each court and each judge has their own demands – and being able to meet those demands – is paramount to being an effective legal clerk. Being prepared to make use of archaic terminology or modern terminology; being capable of filing documents early enough to meet the demands of courts who require original, physical copies, vs. those which only demand electronic, digital copies; understanding how each individual court schedules hearings; even being capable of meeting the demands of other criminal law clerks – all these and more require an ability to adapt to each unique case and each unique situation. Without this adaptability, not only will the work of resolving criminal cases be compounded exponentially, but the appeal of a law clerk as an employee is inherently reduced.

In short, the ability to adapt to the requirements of any legal situation, to understand all of the modern and less-than-modern forms of communication, and finally, to comprehend when and where to use archaic legal terms, will determine the ultimate effectiveness of every criminal law clerk, whether they serve a court, a public defense association, or a private defense attorney. Indeed, while many bureaucratic and clerical positions are able to thrive on stolid and uncompromising methods, that of a criminal law clerk requires a flexibility that is, in almost every field, otherwise unknown.

 

Criminal Law

Criminal Law Terms – What Is Strict Liability?

June 19, 2017

Whether you study criminal law or have become involved in a situation where knowledge of the law is critical, it is helpful to know the terms used during a case. The more you know, the better you will gain an understanding of the situation and how it affects you or your loved ones. Strict liability is a term you may hear in connection to a criminal case. What does it mean?

Strict Liability: a Definition

Where strict liability is concerned, prosecutors do not always seek to prove a person’s guilty mind (also known as mens rea) to connect him or her to the offense. In other words, the defendant may not have set out to commit a crime, but actions involved that led to the occurrence of wrongdoing could lead to a conviction of the person in question. A person may be ignorant of the law, yet may still face conviction.

Examples of Strict Liability

Such laws were created centuries ago as a means of holding factory owners accountable for a variety of safety hazards and ensuing accidents. These days, strict liability is used more often in minor offenses where a defendant is not necessary a criminal, but not entirely blameless.

    • Parking Violations – A driver parks his/her car in the wrong place. Regardless of the reason – emergency or otherwise – strict liability allows for the issuance of a citation.
    • Violations Involving Minors – A person buys an alcoholic beverage for a minor, or an 18-year-old has intimate relations with a younger, albeit consenting, boyfriend or girlfriend. Strict liability may work in these cases and lead to a conviction.

    • Manslaughter – A person unknowingly or accidentally causes another person’s death. While the defendant did not intend for this to happen (i.e. not intent to commit first-degree murder), he/she is not wholly blameless.

 

  • Violations involving dubious situations – In some actual cases, people who have offered services (selling alcohol, distributing prescriptions) may be found liable of wrongdoing.

Strict liability is designed to hold people liable of wrongdoing, even though these people are not generally viewed as criminals. The punishments meted out for such offenses may not be severe, but if convicted a person could end up paying fines, doing community service, or serving jail time. It basically depends on the offense. If you find yourself or a loved one in a situation where strict liability applies to something that involves you, you will need a criminal lawyer who can help.

 

Criminal Law

A Brief Overview of Criminal Law

April 29, 2017

Criminal and penal law refers to the same type of law. Punishments under these laws can be severe and unique depending on the offense and the jurisdiction. Imprisonment, execution, parole, probation and fines are the most common forms of punishment. On occasion, the lines between civil and criminal law become blurred.

The first written code of law was produced by the Sumarians. Civil and criminal law were not separated in these early codes.

The potential for serious consequences and for failure to follow the rules makes criminal law unique. If imprisonment is ordered, it can be solitary and span the lifetime of the individual. House arrest is another form of confinement that requires individuals to follow rules set forth by probation or parole department. Money and property can also be taken from those who are convicted.

Five categories of penalties include punishment, retribution, deterrence, incapacitation and restitution. These punishments will vary among jurisdictions..

For crimes that have an effect on entire areas and societies because of their heinous nature, public international law applies. Public International Law began following World War 2 with the Nuremberg Trials. These trials marked the beginning of individuals being held accountable even though they were acting on behalf of their government. They cannot claim sovereign immunity.

Creating a fear of punishment is how most laws are enforced.

Generally, undesirable acts are forbidden by criminal law. Actus reus, or guilty act, requires evidence that a crime was committed by an action, a threat of action or a lack of action. Actus reus requires a physical element. If someone is in charge of caring for someone else, whether by contract, blood relation living together or through an official position then actus reus applies. It also applies to situations that are dangerous as a result of one. ‘s own actions. This is where the Good Samaritan Laws apply.

Some crimes, such as regulatory offenses, require no more. These crimes are called strict liability offenses. Due to the potential severity of consequences, proof of intent must be met. Proof of a guilty mind, or mens rea, is required.

For crimes that require both to be present, actus reus and mens rea must be present at the same time. They cannot occur at different times.

Nullifying actus reus can occur by proving that the harm to a person would have happened anyway. If you run a red light and injury a person, actus reus will not be nullified because their injury was a direct result of your intended action.

Mens rea, or a guilty mind, means that there was intention to violate the law. Under criminal law; intention and motive or not the same. Good intentions do not negate criminal intentions

If a defendant realizes that an act is hazardous but does it anyway, they have met the mens rea requirement. It is known as recklessness. Courts often consider if the individual should have realized the risk or not. Mens rea has been reduced in some areas of criminal law because if the individual should have known the risk, but did not, intent is erased.

The seriousness of an offense can vary due to intent. If an individual has the intent of killing or causing bodily harm that could result in death, it is murder. If someone is killed because of recklessness it could be manslaughter. It does not matter who is actually harmed by the act. If you intend to hit someone but, end up hitting someone else, your intent is then transferred to that person. This is called transferred malice.

Strict liability is a generally used in civil law. It is harm caused by a defendant regardless of intent or mens reas. Not all crimes require specific intent.

Murder is the most often targeted act under criminal law. Some jurisdictions have levels of severity for murder. First degree murder is based on intent and requires malice. Manslaughter is a killing committed in without malice being present. It is often brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity.. A killing involving reckless can be considered involuntary manslaughter in areas that have that offense.

Settled insanity is a possible defense.

Assault and battery can create criminal liability. Rape is considered a form battery

Trespassing falls under criminal law as does conversion, theft, embezzlement and robbery.

Knowing about a crime or conspiring to commit one can result in criminal charges even if the crime itself is never committed. Some examples of this are: aiding, abetting, conspiracy, and attempt.

 

Criminal Law

Consequences of a Crime Under Criminal Law

April 18, 2017

The concept of punishment makes a major distinction between criminal law and civil law. While in civil law there is no prosecution per se; rather a reimbursement to the plaintiff by the losing defendant, in criminal law a guilty defendant is punished by imprisonment, fines, or the death penalty. In criminal law, maximum sentences on felonies could go to up to a jail term of one year and for misdemeanors a maximum sentence of less than one year. A civil case conducted under tort law can lead to punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct is proved to have intentions for malicious action (cause harm), negligence, willful disregard to other people’s rights.

Compensation for the Plaintiff under Criminal Law

These damages are usually significant in torts that involve such cases as privacy invasion, which may involve a dignitary; and civil rights in cases where the injury or harm done when translated to monetary form is minimal or negligible. Punitive damages are usually intended to teach the public a lesson through the defendant so that the same act may not be repeated. However, these damages are never awarded under contract law where there is a previous contract or agreement involved beforehand.

Tort claims can be paid through insurance that is purchased specifically to pay damages and also to cover the attorney’s fees. This insurance is similar to the standard insurance purchased for business, homeowners and vehicle. However, the defendant may not be able to purchase the same to make payments for his/her offense under Criminal Law.

 

If the defendant is ordered to pay for damages and he/she does not have assets or insurance or has hidden the assets carefully, the plaintiff will receive nothing in damages. Therefore, large claims awarded to plaintiffs for damages are often a waste of time.

The outcome of a case is considered effective to an extend where punishment may not necessarily transform a criminal found guilty under either criminal law or civil law or stop them from committing the same act again. As rational as human-beings are thought to be, criminals are thought to be irrational and it is not considered that they will be caught a second or third time; hence, continuous offense without consideration of possible punishment. However, denial of criminals’ movement rights by enclosing them in prison for a certain period of time may be seen as a much more effective punishment. Therefore, criminal proceeding under criminal law is seen to have more serious impact than under civil law. People tend to choose the loss of freedom rather than the payment of heavy fines that may not necessarily be available to the defendants.

 

Criminal Law

The Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law

February 10, 2017

There are two comprehensive categories of law used in the United States legal system: civil law and criminal law. Although separate types of cases, some crimes can be both a civil and criminal violation of law. Continue reading to learn the differences between civil and criminal law, as well as, examples of such cases.

Civil Law

Civil law is the area of the American legal system that manages disputes or wrong-doings between private parties. A common example of such cases involve injuries. If someone is wrongfully injured by another person demonstrating negligence or malicious intent, they can ask the courts to decide who is at-fault and if the negligent party should pay remuneration to the injured person. The same goes for family law and divorce cases, disagreements over property ownership, breach of contracts, wrongful terminations, and more.

Anyone found guilty of a civil crime or infraction will not be subjected to jail time, government fines, or capital punishment. Instead, most civil litigations end with a negligent party being order to compensate the injured party for their losses and any additional damages caused by the defendant’s negligence. Recompense is often times paid by the defendant’s insurance provider, but sometimes, they must pay out-of-pocket. If they have no money, assets, or insurance, an injured person may not receive any recompense, even if it is court-ordered.

As for burden of proof, civil cases and criminal cases differ greatly. In civil law, the plaintiff has the burden of proving their damages or the negligent act of the opposing party. Once the plaintiff party reveals their proof of negligence, the defendant also has a burden to disprove the plaintiff’s proof and convince the courts of their innocence. In a civil case, a plaintiff and a defendant must hire and pay for their own attorney, or choose to defend themselves. Only in criminal cases will the state offer a lawyer for free.

Criminal Law

In contrast to civil law, criminal law involves crimes against the state, government, or society in whole, rather than a private party or person. Criminal violations, like felonies and misdemeanors, are subjected to state and federal punishment; therefore, guilty person’s face jail time, governmental fines, and in extreme cases, the death penalty. Although a murder is a crime against a person, the crime itself goes against state and federal law, therefore making it a criminal case, rather than a civil one. These cases go to a jury trial where defendants are prosecuted by the state. In criminal litigation, defendants are allowed to appoint their own attorney, or have one appointed to them by the state if they cannot afford to pay for one themselves.

In criminal law, the burden of proof shifts to a more complex principle. First, it is always up to the state prosecutors to provide evidence in order to prove that a defendant is guilty. All people are innocent until proven guilty, so the defendant has no burden of proving their own innocence at all in a criminal case. There are a few exceptions to this rule, in the case of insanity claims and self-defense claims. The state has the responsibility of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a defendant is guilty of the crime in question. There has to be virtually 100% certainty that a defendant is guilty for a jury to hand down a guilty verdict.