Have You Been Charged with A Crime?
If you have been charged with a crime, or are about to be charged with a crime. It is very important that you obtain the advice of counsel as soon as possible.
1. You Have a Constitutional Right to Have an Attorney Present When Questioned by Police;
2. Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law;
3. According to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you cannot be compelled to incriminate yourself. However, many people who are charged with a crime make statements that are self-incriminating because they do not seek the advice of counsel. Don't make that mistake! Anything you say to the police during an investigation can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Historically in our criminal-justice system, two things must have been present for criminal liability to attach to an action.
- A person must have the intent to take the criminal action and
- There must be a guilty act.
Both of the above pre-requisites must take place in combination with each-other in order for the commission of a crime to take place.
Classifications of Crimes:
The most serious crimes are felonies, which are typically either particularly heinous, involve dangerous weapons or threaten relatively high amounts of financial damage or harm to property. Traditionally, felonies are punishable by either confinement for a year or longer, usually in a penitentiary or similarly secure facility, or by the death penalty.
Misdemeanors are crimes that are usually less violent or involve lower levels of harm than felonies do. The legal procedure is usually simpler than for felonies, the penalties less severe and the long-term consequences less harsh. Penalties typically include fines, property forfeitures or jail time of less than one year in a facility less secure than a penitentiary.
The least severe infractions are minor traffic offenses and the like. The terminology varies by state, but common terms for these offenses include petty offenses, infractions or violations of local law. Often the only penalty is a fine and sometimes the infraction may not even be considered a crime.
Probation is intended both to rehabilitate and to punish offenders who have never been in trouble before and who have been charged with less serious offenses, in a normal and less expensive environment than jail, in an effort to make them contributing members of society again. Probation allows the offender to keep working to provide for his or her family, to pay taxes, and sometimes to provide restitution, or compensation, to his or her victim(s).
Conditions of Probation
Usually, a person who is on probation must report regularly to a probation officer or court employee for monitoring of his or her behavior. Reporting could range anywhere from unsupervised to intensive, weekly reporting. Probationary sentences often require the payment of fees, fines, and court costs which can be paid through-out the probationary period. Some of the most common conditions of probation are listed below:
- Drug treatment
- Alcohol and Drug education
- Community service
- Restitution Counseling
- No further arrests
- Confinement or monitoring
- Driving restriction
- No alcohol or drug use
If a person who is on probation fails to meet the conditions of his or her probation, the court after a hearing can modify or revoke the probation, require incarceration, impose additional penalties, or any combination thereof. Sometimes the period of incarceration imposed after a failed probation can be longer than would have been originally imposed when probation was ordered instead.
Variations on Probation
Some of the following options allow a defendant to serve-out his or her conditions of probation, allowing them to go to and from work while otherwise leading a restricted life. Other types of options in probationary sentences allow the offender to work during the day and report to the jail in the evenings, called work release. Another option is weekends, allowing the offender to work during the week and fulfill his sentence on the weekends, thereby reporting to the jail on Friday night. About a third of drunk-driving probationers serve split sentences, where a period of incarceration is combined with the period of probation. Sometimes the judge sentences the defendant first to a short jail term intended to shock him or her by exposure to the severity of incarceration, followed by probation. This type of sentence is known as "shock probation" and is gaining popularity. "House arrest" is probation served mostly at home while wearing an electronic tracking device.
It is important to keep in mind that crime classifications vary by jurisdiction and that this page provides only general information. To understand the details of a criminal charge in your jurisdiction, an attorney can explain the potential punishment and ramifications.