A criminal court is the place where you are brought if you are suspected or caught committing a crime and the state files charges against you. The District Attorney’s Office normally takes to representing the state in the criminal case. Sometimes in certain cities, it is the city attorney who prosecutes certain offenses rather than the District Attorney despite having District Attorney offices in every county.
It is only the government that can charge you with a criminal offense and not any private citizen or agency.
Accused parties are presumed innocent until the prosecution is able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in criminal cases.
There are basic differences between criminal cases and civil cases.
When a person, called the defendant, is accused of wrongdoing by the government and files a case against him so that he will be given proper punishment, then we call that a criminal case. If the defendant is proven guilty of the crime, he may be sent to prison for a certain amount of time
If a person or a business sues another because of disputes about money or other issues, then it is said to be a civil case. In civil cases, you do not need to go jail if you lose the case but you are ordered to pay money or to give up some property to the other party.
There are three different types of criminal cases.
Minor law violations are called infractions. Infractions can be as minor as a traffic violation. Payment of fine is the punishment for infractions and does not necessarily lead to prison time.
Misdemeanor, the next type of criminal crime, is punishable by 6 months to 1 year in prison or a cash fine of $1000 for most misdemeanor cases. Some examples of misdemeanors are petty theft, vandalism, driving with a suspended license and drunk driving, popularly known as DUI or ‘driving under the influence.’
Committing a felony is said to be the most serious type of crime one can commit. If a person is found guilty of felony, the punishment can be a long prison term or, in some grievous cases, the death penalty itself. Robbery, murder, rape and possession of illegal drugs all fall under felony.
Hiring a lawyer is necessary when you are arrested for misdemeanor or felony. Hiring a criminal lawyer is the best thing to do for one accused of a misdemeanor or felony because of its grave consequence, even if it is possible to represent yourself in all these.
A public defender is assigned to a person who cannot afford a lawyer of his own. The judge should be informed of the inability of the accused to get a lawyer to represent him.
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