Criminal vs. Civil Cases
One of the most important things to understand about criminal cases is how they differ from civil ones. This helps to explain the severity of the punishments, as well as the methods we use to build and argue your case.
Civil cases are claims brought against a citizen or corporation by another citizen or corporation. For example, if a driver breaks his leg in a collision with a distracted driver, the injured driver could bring a personal injury case against the distracted driver. In most of these cases, the plaintiff can choose to drop the charges if the situation changes or they no longer wish to seek compensation. Though a jury and judge are still involved, civil cases are often about resolving disputes between two parties.
Criminal cases are not created by citizens, but rather by law enforcement agencies or the government. This is how the government enforces the laws and ensures that consequences are served when an individual does something serious and illegal. Even if another individual was injured by the crime, the prosecution comes from the state. This means that the charges cannot be dropped, except in very specific and rare situations. These cases are not based on an individual’s desire to be compensated, but rather they are based on the government’s responsibility to uphold and enforce the law.
As mentioned, a civil court can have a jury, but cases can also be decided solely by a judge. If a civil case has a jury, they must come to a majority conclusion in order to come to a verdict. Criminal cases, on the other hand, almost always have juries. This is a basic right under our constitution and helps to ensure that the ruling is not biased. In criminal cases, the jury must come to a unanimous decision in order to come to a verdict.
The consequences for criminal cases are more severe because the crimes are more severe. Depending on the situation, small infractions can be handled by a civil court or small claims court.
Types of Criminal Charges
There are many different offenses that fall under the umbrella of criminal law. These cases vary in severity and size and can yield a myriad of consequences depending on the situation. Though there is much variation in these circumstances, there are certain criminal offenses that we commonly see.
Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that happens within a household falls under the category of domestic violence
. Though the alleged victim can take steps to protect themselves if they so choose, the state takes action on their behalf. If found guilty, those accused of domestic violence face thousands of dollars in fines as well as up to one year in jail.
Driving under the influence means operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content over .08%. These crimes can be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony. Most people found guilty of a DUI face large fines and jail time.
Many white-collar crimes
such as embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud are taken to criminal court. Though these crimes are not as physically violent as the others, they still carry significant consequences. In many of these scenarios, the federal courts must handle the case, as the crimes usually occur over several states or countries.
If you face charges for a white-collar crime, you face a myriad of significant consequences. You may be required to pay restitution, and will likely be under house arrest or imprisoned for a significant amount of time. Many people lose most or all of their assets during this process.
Burglary and Robbery
Though many people use these terms interchangeably, they are distinct. Despite this, both of them fall under criminal law.
Robbery is when a person takes another person’s property by way of intimidation, fear, or threats. Robbery charges can increase in severity if a weapon was used, such as using a gun to get someone to hand over their wallet.
Burglary is when a person enters a property intending to commit a crime. Many people falsely believe that you must enter a property illegally in order to commit burglary, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, it’s possible to commit shoplifting, which is an act of burglary, without illegally entering a store.
Assault and Battery
When you hurt someone, you can be charged with assault or battery. Though there are differences between these two charges, it’s important to note that both are considered criminal. Your punishment will depend on the damage done and whether weapons were used.
Gun Possession Violations
Though owning a gun is a right under our constitution, there are limitations and restrictions that protect everyone’s safety. Certain individuals are not permitted to own guns, such as those who are on probation. Everyone who owns a gun must purchase it through proper channels to ensure safety and legality. If you violate these laws, you can be charged with a gun possession violation.
Possessing, buying, selling, and trafficking drugs are all considered drug crimes. These crimes are serious and are brought directly to criminal court. Though marijuana is legal in some states, it’s still illegal to sell, traffic, or distribute cannabis without the proper licensing. If you possess a significant amount of marijuana, you can also be charged. Some of these cases can go to the federal level depending on what happened, where the crime occurred, and if state lines were crossed.
There are many other kinds of criminal cases that can yield serious consequences. If you are accused of one of the above, it’s essential to call our attorneys right away.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
To reiterate, criminal cases are extremely serious. Depending on your offense, you may be sentenced to a lifetime in prison. Many of these punishments are not necessarily dismissed or reduced for first-time offenders, meaning that one mistake could lead to life-changing consequences.
By hiring an attorney, you give yourself the best chance of winning your case or reducing your sentence. The state will be represented by a state prosecutor. Without representation from a skilledlegal defense team, refuting the claims made by the state attorney and properly defending yourself will be very difficult. The prosecutor will build a case against youusing all of their available resources and evidence. A jury will likely find you guilty if you don’t have an experienced lawyer helping defend you.
There is a lot on the line when it comes to criminal cases. It’s important to have an attorney to defend your lifestyle, family, and future.
Consequences of Criminal Cases
There are many different punishments that you could receive, depending on your situation. Some common sentences include:
• Jail or prison time
• Restrictions on your license
• A permanent record
The judge will tailor the sentence based on your situation, your history, and the severity of your crime.
However, the judge’s sentence is not the only set of consequences you can receive. There are many ramifications of being convicted of a crime. Potential examples include:
• Having a difficult time finding and holding a job
• Being denied housing
• Fractured relationships
• Loss of child custody
Though these aren’t assigned by a judge, they occur for many people who are convicted of criminal offenses.
Q: What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Defense Lawyer and an Attorney?
A: Many people believe that there’s a difference between lawyers and attorneys, but the terms are interchangeable. An attorney is the umbrella term for the profession, while a criminal defense lawyer describes an attorney practicing a specific type of law. A criminal defense attorney is tasked with representing the accused and helping them to maintain their innocence.
Q: How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Make?
A: Every firm structures its payment differently. Some take a percentage of the settlement, while others charge hourly. Therefore, it’s difficult to say how much your attorney earns. In order to make sure you can afford your attorney’s services throughout your entire case, it’s important to discuss finances with them upfront. This ensures that you don’t have to worry about not being able to afford them and can plan accordingly.
Q: What Is a Federal Defense Attorney?
A: Though we have mostly discussed state criminal cases, it’s possible for a criminal case to be brought to federal court. This is reserved for extremely serious charges or situations of high profile. Federal agencies may also get involved if the crime occurred over several state lines, making it difficult to enforce state-specific rules. A federal defense attorney is simply the attorney who would represent the accused in a federal criminal case.
Q: How Is a Criminal Jury Selected?
A: The jury selection process is a relatively random one. Names are pulled based on an individual’s license registration. The candidates are interviewed and vetted before they enter the court. The attorneys get to make a few decisions about who they want on the jury. It’s often a mixture of individuals of different races, sexes, ages, and walks of life. As your attorney, we will make our selections based on who we believe will be sympathetic to your point of view.
Q: Can I Get My Criminal Conviction Expunged?
A: If you’re convicted of a crime, it may be possible to remove it from your record after some time has passed. This isn’t an option in all scenarios because it depends upon the severity of the crime, the danger you present to others, your behavior since your conviction, and your history beforehand. Please note that not all crimes are eligible for expungement.
Contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer
No matter the severity of your crime or the type of crime committed, it’s extremely important that you find an attorney that you trust. It’s essential that your attorney has direct experience in cases like yours; it is not enough to simply practice criminal law.
Our team has been a part of these cases for many years, and we have represented clients accused of various crimes. We understand these situations, and our experience makes us confident that we can help you with any criminal case you may have. From white-collar crimes to homicide to drug crimes, our law firm has the best local criminal defense attorneys. For more information about how our team at Zentz & Zentz can help you, please contact us online today.