Criminal Defense Attorney: Protecting Your Interests
Given the nuances of the federal legal system, choosing a competent criminal defense attorney is key to ensuring a fair trial that protects the defendants interests in court.
Defining the Crime
In general, a crime may be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the gravity of the charge and the possible sentence for the said offense. Felonies are serious criminal charges including but not limited to murder, robbery and kidnapping. Punishable by imprisonment of at least a year, usually longer, a felony charge entitles the defendant to a jury trial, while a misdemeanor may not necessarily convene a jury unless the crime is serious enough to warrant it.
While federal law still recognizes this system of dual classification, a number of state legislatures have, however, enacted systems termed the Model Penal Code that classifies crimes by gradation. Under these legal definitions, first-degree crimes are typically charges that would be graded a felony while fourth-degree charges cover minor offenses such as violations and mischief.
Depending on the offense, your criminal defense attorney may recommended pleading 'guilty' or 'not guilty' to the charges when the arraignment is actually set. In general, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and the defendant can either choose to actively defend against the charges or opt to plead guilty for a lesser charge. As such, both purpose and motive are essential to proving the defendant guilty as charged beyond any reasonable doubt.
Typically, when taking a 'not guilty' stand, the defendant can actually challenge the credibility as well as strength or the evidence presented while pleading guilty offers the possibility of reduction in the charges originally indicted. This could potentially lead to what is termed a plea bargain, where your criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecution, thus dropping one or more charges or cutting down the original indictment to one of a potentially lesser severity.
Criminal Defense Strategies
In the event that the defendant actually contests the charges, a skilled lawyer may want to adopt a more challenging defense strategy for best representation in court. To begin with, your lawyer may allege factual errors in the chain of events as portrayed by the prosecutor, and this is often a useful strategy simply because the burden of proof rests solely with the prosecution. On the other hand, affirmative defenses can also prove to be useful, wherein the defendant actually admits to the factual allegations presented by the prosecution, but seeks justification based on the grounds on which the act of guilt was committed. For instance, an act of assault or battery committed in self-defense cannot be proven to be unlawful unless the court establishes that deadly force beyond a reasonable limit was employed.
The impact of choosing the right defense tactic cannot be overemphasized, and often the timeline when each strategy is employed during trial is crucial. Hiring a seasoned criminal defense attorney is vital to presenting an impregnable case that ensures a favorable outcome in court.
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