Two types of laws in the United States are meant to punish wrongdoing or compensate victims of illegal acts. These two branches of law are known as criminal law and civil law.
Civil law is the set of laws that address behaviors that cause some injury or harm to another individual or other private party. When a person is injured, they are then allowed to file civil lawsuits against the wrongdoer. The legal penalties for any parties found liable for civil violations are generally monetary, but the penalties may also include court-ordered remedies such as an injunction or restraining order.
The other branch of law in the United States is criminal law. Criminal law addresses behavior considered an offense against society, the state, or the public. An individual convicted of a crime may be forced to pay criminal fines or lose their freedom by imprisonment.
Regardless of whether someone is being charged with a serious or minor crime, the person accused of the crime has certain constitutional rights. The person may also be entitled to additional rights provided by state laws. For example, an individual will have the constitutional right to a trial and the right not to self-incriminate.
It is important to note that every state will have its own written laws concerning what constitutes a crime according to state law. In the state of New York, and specifically in the Bronx, the New York Police Department (“NYPD”) and the Bronx County Sheriff’s Officer are the parties tasked with investigating crimes, and local prosecutors are the parties tasked with charging and prosecuting individuals accused of a crime. However, if the individual in the Bronx commits a federal crime, that individual will be charged in federal court according to where the crime was committed.
What Is a Criminal Lawyer?
A criminal lawyer is a licensed attorney that represents persons that have been accused of or charged with a criminal offense. Criminal lawyers are also called criminal defense lawyers, as they assist individuals in building a defense for the crime of which they have been accused. A criminal defense attorney performs numerous tasks, including:
- Researching local criminal laws, statutes, and case law;
- Answering legal questions that their client might have regarding the charges being brought against them;
- Studying the criminal evidence that has been proposed to be used during the criminal trial and making legal arguments regarding criminal evidence admissibility;
- Anticipating and making legal arguments concerning the criminal case;
- Organizing and building a solid defense strategy, such as asserting any applicable legal defenses that may be available; and
- Assisting their client with the appeal process, if necessary.
What Is Criminal Procedure? What Is Bronx Criminal Procedure?
Criminal procedure refers to the overall legal process of resolving criminal matters for a person accused of violating criminal laws. Criminal procedure in the Bronx controls the process by which NYPD and the Bronx Sheriff’s Office may make arrests, interrogations, and searches.
The intention behind all criminal procedure laws is known as the “presumption of innocence,” which means that a person suspected of a crime is considered innocent until they are proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, the burden of proof is on the New York state prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
Criminal procedure in New York includes several constitutional protections for the defendant and additional state protections, which prevent abuses of the justice system. Examples of common legal protections for a person accused of a crime in New York include:
The criminal procedure can be considered a timeline that begins when a suspect is initially apprehended and ends with the final criminal verdict or appeal. Additionally, procedural guidelines govern other after-measures, such as an individual’s probation or parole. New York criminal procedure also governs how a person may be pulled over or have their property searched.
For example, the NYPD or the Bronx Sheriff’s Office normally needs a warrant or a person’s consent to search for a person’s property. If law enforcement searches without having either, then criminal evidence laws may be utilized to exclude any evidence found due to the illegal search. This is because individuals have a Fourth Amendment right that prohibits law enforcement from conducting property searches without a person’s consent.
In the Bronx, people often still have their vehicles searched without a warrant or consent. These searches are known as warrantless searches and are authorized under New York law when law enforcement has probable cause to believe the person driving may have committed or is committing a crime.
For example, if the NYPD or sheriff pulls an individual over in the Bronx and they detect the smell of alcohol or drugs, that will grant them the ability to conduct a warrantless search based on the chance that the driver may have been driving under the influence or have drugs in the vehicle.
It is important to note that New York law has no specific guideline on what constitutes probable cause. Instead, it is based on a case-by-case basis. However, a person can challenge the search in court if they believe it was conducted illegally. Additionally, minor violations, such as a broken tail light or failure to signal, are not enough to constitute probable cause and conduct a search of a person’s property.
What Are Examples of Common Bronx Criminal Cases?
Once again, every state has different written criminal laws that define what constitutes a crime in that state. Some local laws and statutes in New York outline what constitutes a crime in each local jurisdiction.
In the Bronx, criminal cases often involve numerous different legal issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Immigration crimes;
- Drug-related offenses;
- Criminal cases involving assault and battery;
- Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, and continuous smuggling of person cases;
- Criminal cases involving firearms or other deadly weapons;
- Burglary cases;
- Drunk driving cases;
- Stalking cases; and
- Criminal fraud cases.
As in most criminal jurisdictions, drunk driving and drug-related crimes make up a significant portion of criminal cases in the Bronx. However, many criminal cases in the Bronx involve minor criminal infractions, such as simple traffic violations.
Do I Need a Bronx Criminal Defense Lawyer?
As can be seen, effective presentation is essential to ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout your criminal case. An experienced Bronx criminal defense lawyer is essential for any person that has been accused of a crime. Criminal procedure laws and criminal evidence laws in the Bronx are very complex and complicated and require an experienced attorney familiar with all of the nuances of criminal law.
An experienced Bronx criminal defense attorney will be able to ensure that your legal rights are protected. They can also help you either assert applicable legal defenses to get the charges brought against you dropped or help you receive a lesser sentence for any charges brought against you. If there are any changes to criminal laws, they can also inform you of those.
Finally, an attorney can also represent you at any in-person criminal proceedings that may be required for your case.