What is Criminal law?
The branch of law defines and deals with criminal offenses. It also articulates the punishment and trial procedure of an offender in the event of a person not following the criminal laws of a state or a country. Criminal lawyers practice law to provide legal assistance in criminal defense cases.
Criminal laws have been introduced since ancient times. Every civilization had its own set of criminal laws. These laws helped them protect the society they lived in from offenders.
In modern times criminal laws of a state or a country are based on the concept of safeguarding the interest of their citizens/residents and avoiding future offenses. Authorities work to make everyone adhere to these laws and subsequently maintain a peaceful society.
The origin of these laws is different ranging from cultural norms to religious practices. Some societies follow the laws of religion to punish offenders such as Shariah law. In other places, criminal laws are rolled out based on their impact on society.
Traditionally, a morally wrong act of a person is considered a crime. Criminal law was introduced to make the offender pay for his wrongdoing in a manner that is acceptable to most of society.
Types of Criminal law
Criminal law is classified into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are considered as crimes of serious nature, whereas misdemeanors are crimes of a less serious nature. In most of countries, a crime is considered a felony if the punishment; as per the rules of criminal law, is death or imprisonment over a year. A misdemeanor on the other hand is a crime whose punishment is a year or less imprisonment. The most common examples of a felony are murder, whereas, a misdemeanor can be classified as driving without a license or with an expired license.
In the modern world, a criminal lawyer or criminal advocate is one who helps develop a law against crime and to safeguard the interest of a person who is accused of a criminal offense. Sometimes, a person can be wrongly accused of a criminal act. In such an event a criminal defense lawyer is the one who helps the accused person in proving innocence through means which are acceptable to the law and with evidence.
A criminal lawyer or a criminal advocate does some or all of the below:
- A criminal lawyer makes their client understand the basics of the crime their client is accused of. They also advise the client of the potential consequences of a course of action which they will take up to safeguard their client’s interest in the court of law.
- A criminal advocate helps their client present their case in the best possible manner so that the punishment; as applicable by the law, can be avoided. Furthermore, criminal lawyers work together with the client to find the truth about the whole scenario.
- Criminal lawyers are also known as criminal defense lawyers. They help their clients in developing the best defense techniques to be presented in front of the judge and court.
- Citizens have constitutional rights. Criminal lawyers must be aware of the constitutional rights of a person. They must know the relationship of criminal law with the constitutional right of a person so that they can defend their clients
There are stages of occurrence and triggering of criminal law in a person’s life which can be understood as:
- A person is arrested based on information gathered by the state police or information provided by someone else.
- While the person is under arrest by police, they are not charged with a felony.
- The accused person can hire a criminal lawyer or a criminal advocate to defend them in court.
- The police present the accused person in front of the court. The court after reading and hearing the nature of the case decides to accept the plea of the plaintiff or to reject it.
- If the plea is accepted the court gives criminal defense lawyers time to prepare their defense and present it on a future date.
- In some cases, the criminal lawyer, the accused person (also called the defendant), and the plaintiff reach an out-of-court settlement. In such an event the court must be notified so that the case can be withdrawn.
- If there is not out of court settlement, the court decides the hear the criminal defense lawyer and the plaintiff lawyers present their evidence in support of their clients, respectively.
- Once the court has made a decision in light of all the evidence and as per the criminal law, if found guilty the accused person is sentenced to punishment as applicable, however, if the accused person is not found guilty, the court releases the accused person.
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Disclaimer: An attorney/lawyer shall be consulted when making a decision for your legal needs. Rules and laws described in this blog shall only be used as a source of information. That cannot be contested in a court of law, and neither can be used as legal advice.