“Innocent until proven guilty” is a very common phrase. Only four words, but its meaning is so elaborate that trials under these conditions take weeks and months of effort. Criminal defense lawyers look out for their clients to ensure they withhold that “innocent” title. That is, if their clients are not in the wrong. Criminal defense law takes into consideration all factors that contributed to the crime committed by someone. Here are our tips on choosing a good defense attorney. These factors include the state the “criminal” was in and, most importantly, the intentions of the person.
Intentions are of extreme importance as they help understand the situation better. It can elaborate on whether the crime committed by the person was a last resort action or an actual well-thought-out, elaborate plan.
This ensures fair and just treatment for those prosecuted without sufficient evidence. Or for those who unintentionally and involuntarily committed a crime.
To punish or not to punish?
It is of utmost importance for the court and the judge to ensure the prosecuted only receives a fair amount of punishment. The sentence given to the criminal should reflect the crime they committed and under what circumstances.
The judge can later alter or adjust this sentence upon observing good or bad behavior. Good behavior results in a more lenient punishment. But bad behavior gets longer and harsher sentences, such as shifting the culprit’s sentence from a minimum security prison to a maximum one.
The intensity of the crime and punishment
Quite frequently, some criminals have committed the most dangerous and harsh crimes. Still, the fact is that some of the said criminals will be walking with a smaller sentence and lenient punishments, whereas the others will have severe punishments that might even include the death penalty.
The reasoning behind this balance or lack thereof is, as a matter of fact, balance. This is so because some of the criminals behind violent crimes have no control over the crime they unfortunately committed. Both in law and the real world, intentions matter.
Evidence is perhaps the most important part of a trial. It plays a giant role in the sentence declared to a criminal, but there are appropriate methods to conduct searches that dig up evidence.
If a search is conducted unjustly, the material found from it can be suppressed by their attorney’s request in court. The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is protected under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Rights of those prosecuted
The Constitution grants several basic human rights to those who are prosecuted. Right off the bat, a person who has already been acquitted of a crime once cannot be charged with the same (or similar) crime again. This is protection against double jeopardy. A person also cannot receive multiple punishments for the same crime.
Criminals are given the right to have a public trial and for a jury to decide their sentence. They are given the right to confront witnesses and neglect any misinformation provided by witnesses.
Traffic offenses and criminal defense
Several types of criminal defense categories are included in a traffic offense. The most common traffic offenses are:
- Reckless driving – Driving too fast and irresponsibly can lead to fatal accidents damaging society, especially vulnerable people like children and older people.
- False overtaking – It is very common for people to pass by cars and overtake them while speeding; this also includes overtaking from the wrong side of the road without slowing down or checking mirrors. This is classified as highly dangerous.
- Speeding – Exceeding the speed limit, especially in a school zone, is quite dangerous as it can cause fatal car crashes.
- DUI – Driving under the influence is quite common and extremely harmful to the state as it causes some of the worst accidents.
- Driving without a license – A criminal offense as it is clear-cut illegal driving.
- Vehicle assault – A severe offense of its kind as it can lead to manslaughter of all kinds.
- Operating a vehicle that is dangerous – Driving a vehicle that is not fit to drive is a criminal offense. That includes driving an ill-maintained vehicle, failure of breaks, and improper lights.
- Offenses include neglecting the responsibility of driving by prioritizing electronic devices. For example, using your mobile phone or the LED screen attached to your dashboard while driving.
- Failure to abide by the law, the most common example, includes disregarding the law altogether. This is also commonly committed by people who disregard signs and traffic signals that exist for safety and law enforcement.
Misdemeanor traffic violations
Most traffic violations (especially in Hanover County) are classified as “infractions,” which are only public order infractions that do not constitute criminal charges. Common offenses include following too closely, failing to yield at a stop sign, and not stopping completely.
Even though infractions may incur fines and demerit points, they won’t last forever. More serious traffic infractions, however, are occasionally regarded as crimes. The most frequent misdemeanor traffic infractions include reckless driving and operating a vehicle when your license is suspended.
Misdemeanor offenses can result in license suspension, jail time, and a criminal record in addition to demerit points and fines. Hanover County, VA traffic offenses lawyer make sure that no unjust practices are placed on their clients.
All in all, criminal defense is an important field of the law as it helps those unjustly accused and sentenced to get justice. It helps free them from paying for crimes they did not purposefully commit.
When your traffic offense goes too far
This often occurs after multiple offenses or very serious offenses. It also happens when serious consequences result from reckless behavior on the driver’s part. For example, committing involuntary or voluntary manslaughter due to rash driving.
Demerit points are points assigned for reckless driving. You get demerit points when the court records your violation.
These points stay on your record for two years. The harsher the offense, the more points get added. If you receive more than 24 points within two years, your license can get suspended.
Driver’s license points systems vary by US state. The assessment for each system is available online.
The impact traffic offenses have on your record
The effect of such offenses depends on how harsh or severe the offense was. The violation currently stays on record for three years for minor offenses such as using your mobile phone or operating a vehicle without a license.
For offenses like speeding and reckless driving that can result in injuries or damage, the offense goes on record for five years. For major offenses like driving under the influence, damaging property, or crashes that involve manslaughter or driving without a functioning license the record – such offenses go on record for eleven years. For commercial drivers, most traffic offenses go on record permanently.
Eight criminal defenses:
In some countries like Australia and Canada, mental disorder dulls some crimes to nothing as it is considered that a mentally ill person does not have any intentions, let alone ill ones, behind the crime. For this to happen, the culprit has to be declared insane.
It is stated as “not guilty by reason of insanity.” For the prosecution to end at this, it needs to be made clear the criminal has no understanding of the law whatsoever. Upon being declared criminally insane, treatment in a mental hospital is required for a specific time.
Automatism is when muscles act involuntarily. A person has no control over their physical actions in this condition.
A person might enter a scenario in their brain related to something that has occurred previously in their life, and their actions would not connect to those of the real world at that point in time. However, to classify as innocent while in this state, there has to be no active consciousness in the person’s brain. Drug use should also not be the reasoning behind the total loss of control or hallucinations.
A victim can be questioned upon this by the attorney in terms of whether the victim had provoked a person with such vulnerability. Examples also include schizophrenia, dementia, and other illnesses.
Intoxicated as a criminal defense
Voluntary intoxication does not fall under this category. It only refers to involuntary intoxication, such as unknowingly drinking a drink that has been spiked or having someone force dangerous drugs into someone’s system.
However, intoxication will only very rarely be able to justify a person’s actions. It is usually disregarded.
Mistake of the fact
This occurs based on the criminal’s statement that they were under a different impression. In other words, they were not aware what they were committing was a crime.
If the statement is concluded as true and genuine, the jury changes its stance. In such cases, the prosecuted severely believes that what they were doing was not criminal but, in fact, quite the opposite.
This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments the criminal can put forth. Acting out of self-defense is not considered a crime by any means, as the person was merely trying to protect themselves.
This person was subconsciously willing to take any steps to save their life. However, it needs to prove that the threat from the other side was as intense as the action taken to eliminate it.
This defense is based on the fact that what was happening to the criminal was against their consent. Any criminal action they took was to get them out of that forceful situation. It is not a defense if it was induced by duress or force.
Necessity is another criminal defense
This theory is based on the statement that any crime committed was to help someone or for a noble cause. For example, trespassing to save someone from drowning or to put out a gas leak. This step is taken out of necessity and no other agenda but a good one.
Even though a crime was committed, no doubt in debt, it is the intention of the crime that was taken into consideration. The intention of the crime was a bigger cause that involved the betterment of society in one way or the other – the prosecuted will not be charged as guilty, and the case will be dealt with in an entirely separate approach.
This is when someone is forced into doing something against their will by violent and specific threats. Most of these threats involve hurting the family of the person under duress.
This can be used as a defense statement only if it is proved that the person had no other way out and was extremely threatened to work for someone dangerous. It has to be proven that the prosecuted had no benefit from committing the crime, nor did they have any prior link to it.
What it takes to be a criminal defense lawyer
Criminal defense lawyers must refrain from representing clients in situations that fall outside of their primary areas of practice. Divorce lawyers shouldn’t represent anyone suspected of murder, and employment lawyers shouldn’t represent someone charged with capital murder.
Nevertheless, this occurs frequently on the orders of a judge who lacks compassion and chooses counsel based more on availability and personal connections than competence and qualifications. An ethical criminal defense lawyer will be able to identify cases outside of their areas of expertise and competence and politely decline to take them in the interest of the defendant’s justice.
The importance a criminal defense lawyer holds
You might be tempted to just pay the fine and move on if you received a speeding ticket or similar traffic infraction. But be aware that doing so would be equivalent to entering a guilty plea for the alleged crime, which might seriously harm your record.
Convictions for several traffic offenses may impact your freedom, work options, income, and driving privileges. It pays to have a skilled local attorney who can protect your rights when the stakes are this high.
In addition to that, it also helps keep those who were unjustly persecuted. They maintain a clean record instead of one that lists crimes they never intended to commit.
However, it is important to note that several criminals are guilty as charged. They put other people under the impression that they were innocent despite this being true. Attorneys like Hanover county VA traffic offense lawyers make sure that everything they are fighting for is based on one concept and only justice.