Bennett & Bennett
Understanding Criminal Charges
When someone is accused of breaking the law, they may face something called criminal charges. To help you better understand what this means, let's break it down into simpler terms.
A "criminal charge" is when the government, usually represented by a prosecutor, accuses a person of committing a crime. A crime is an act that breaks the law and can cause harm to people or property. There are different types of crimes, like stealing, hurting someone, or using illegal drugs. When someone is charged with a crime, it means they have been formally accused of doing something wrong.
Here's a basic outline of the process:
Investigation: Before a criminal charge can be filed, the police or another law enforcement agency usually investigates the situation. They gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and try to figure out if a crime has been committed and who might be responsible.
Arrest: If the police believe they have enough evidence, they may arrest the person they think committed the crime. An arrest is when the police take a person into custody, which means they are no longer free to go where they want.
Charging: After an arrest, the prosecutor will review the evidence and decide whether to file criminal charges against the person. If the prosecutor decides to move forward, the accused person will be formally charged with a crime. This is when the legal process truly begins.
Court: Once charged, the accused person will go to court. In court, the prosecutor will try to prove that the person committed the crime. The accused person, often with the help of a lawyer, will try to show that they did not commit the crime or that there is not enough evidence to prove they did. The judge or a jury will listen to both sides and decide if the accused person is guilty or not guilty.
Sentencing: If the accused person is found guilty, the judge or jury will decide on the punishment, which could include jail or prison time, probation, fines, or community service. If the person is found not guilty, they will be free to go.
So criminal charges are formal accusations made by the government against a person who is believed to have committed a crime. This process starts with an investigation, leads to an arrest, and goes through the court system, where the person is either found guilty or not guilty. Understanding this process can help you better grasp what it means when someone faces criminal charges.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases
As a criminal-defense lawyer, it's important for me to clarify the difference between criminal cases and civil cases, as many people confuse the two. Here's a brief explanation to help you understand the key differences, and why I may not be the right attorney for your situation if you're dealing with a civil matter.
Parties involved: In criminal cases, the government brings charges against an individual (defendant) for violating the law. In civil cases, one person (plaintiff) sues another person (defendant) to resolve a dispute or seek compensation for damages.
Legal representation: I represent clients in criminal cases, defending their rights and freedom against government charges. If you have a complaint about a person or business causing harm or violating a contract, you need a civil attorney to handle your case.
If you're facing criminal charges, I'm here to help. However, if you're dealing with a dispute between individuals or businesses—even if your complaint is that someone else committed a crime against you—you'll need to seek the assistance of the police or a civil attorney to address your concerns.