There are two main categories of law in the United States: civil law and criminal law. Criminal law is designed to address behavior that is considered to be an offense against society, the state, or the public. This is true, even if the victim is an individual person as opposed to a group of people. Criminal law may be thought of as a body of federal and state rules prohibiting any behavior that the government considers to be harmful to society.
Simply put, crimes are defined by criminal law. Should a person engage in acts or behaviors that are considered to be harmful to society, they could be found guilty of committing a crime. Crimes are generally prosecuted in a criminal court. Someone convicted of a crime may be forced to pay fines, and may also lose their personal freedoms and privileges by being sentenced to jail or prison time, depending on the severity of the crime.
There are several types of crime that may be prosecuted under criminal law. Some examples include:
- Crimes Against a Person: Personal crimes are most commonly generalized as a violent crime that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm to the victim. These crimes are offenses against the person, and can include but are not limited to assault and battery, homicide, and rape;
- White-Collar Crimes: White-collar crimes are illegal activities that are nonviolent in nature, and are characterized by a focus on achieving financial gain. They are usually committed by business professionals and government employees, as these professionals typically have access to the resources necessary to carry out white-collar crimes. Some examples of white-collar crimes include embezzlement, tax evasion, and bribery;
- Non-Violent Crimes: Non-violent crimes may be defined as crimes that do not involve the use of any force or injury to another person. Most non-violent crimes involve some sort of property crime such as property damage or theft. They can often involve various violations of ordinances and rules, such as traffic rule violations and other types of misconduct. Some of the most common examples of non-violent crimes are also white-collar crimes; and
- Crimes Against Property: Property crimes are also referred to as offenses against property. They do not necessarily involve the harm of another person, but rather, these crimes involve interference with another person’s right to use or enjoy their own property. Some examples of property crimes include but are not limited to theft, arson, and receipt of stolen goods.
What Are Some Possible Criminal Defenses?
A person who has been accused of and charged with committing a crime becomes a criminal defendant. They are presumed innocent until the government proves that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a defense which excuses or justifies their criminal behavior may prevent a criminal conviction, or reduce a criminal charge.
Some of the most commonly utilized criminal defenses include the following:
- Self Defense: Generally speaking, the law allows a self-defense justification in the following circumstance: the defendant was not the aggressor; their reaction was a reasonable response to a threat; and, they actually and reasonably believed that they were in danger of imminent serious bodily injury or death. This can be challenging to prove, especially in cases in which witness testimony conflicts. However, if fully proven, self-defense will completely absolve the defendant of the crime that they committed;
- Duress or Necessity: Most states recognize duress and necessity as defenses to crimes committed under the threat of death, or serious bodily injury. An example of this would be if someone forced the defendant to steal a car by threatening them with a gun to their head. The defendant could plead duress to a charge of auto theft. Necessity is also known as the lesser harm defense.
- An example of how necessity could be a suitable defense would be if the defendant broke into a mountain cabin to prevent from freezing to death in a blizzard. Such defenses are highly uncommon, although a criminal defendant has a complete defense where duress or necessity is proven; and
- Intoxication: The law holds people responsible for their choice to become intoxicated, even if they would not have committed the crime had they been sober. In some cases, where the defense can show that the influence of drugs or alcohol made the defendant unable to be guilty of intentionally committing the crime due to their diminished capacity, intoxication may justify a reduced charge.
- Alternatively, intoxication may provide a total defense for a defendant who became involuntarily intoxicated. An example of this would be if they committed a crime as a result of being unknowingly drugged, or forced to consume large amounts of alcohol.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of potential criminal defenses. That is why it is advised to consult with an attorney if you have any questions regarding possible criminal defenses. Available defenses will vary widely as they are dependent upon state laws and individual circumstances.
What Is the Role of Police in Society?
Historically, the main role of police in society has been to preserve order by enforcing criminal laws, while also protecting individuals and property. States grant certain powers and legal protections to the police so that they can fulfill their designated roles. For example, the police force may utilize certain levels of force in preventing crimes, as well as impose fines for criminal behavior.
It is important to note that every city typically maintains its own police force, with the police organization being headquartered in what is known as a “precinct.” Other common law enforcement agencies, who often perform similar tasks as police officers include:
- Highway Patrol Officers;
- Detectives; and
Does Denver Have Any Unique Criminal Laws?
Denver specifically does not have any unique criminal laws. However, some of Colorado’s notable criminal laws include but are not limited to:
- Colorado Prostitution and Soliciation: Criminal code in Colorado prohibits pimping and solicitation in addition to prostitution;
- Colorado Manslaughter Laws: Colorado maintains various levels of manslaughter charges, as well as associated penalties. Manslaughter does not require premeditation, whereas first degree murder does require premeditation; and
- Colorado Rape and Sexual Assault: Acts of rape or sexual assault are classified as being two separate crimes. These are sexual assault, and sexual contact.
What Do Denver Criminal Lawyers Do?
Criminal lawyers are most commonly referred to criminal defense attorneys. These attorneys defend those who have been charged with a crime and handle a wide variety of criminal cases. Some examples include:
- Domestic violence crimes;
- Sex crimes;
- Violent crimes;
- Drug crimes;
- Embezzlement; and
A Denver criminal lawyer will handle:
- Bail bond hearings, plea bargains, trial, revocation hearings, appeals, and post conviction remedies;
- Investigating the case;
- Interviewing witnesses;
- Researching relevant case law, state statutes, criminal codes, and procedural law;
- Building a defense and developing case strategies;
- Negotiating with the prosecution in order to reach a plea bargain;
- Drafting, filing, and arguing relevant motions;
- Advocating for the defendant during trial; and
- Drafting, filing, and arguing appeals.
Should I Contact a Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you are being accused of committing a crime in Colorado, specifically Denver, you should immediately consult with a skilled and knowledgeable Denver criminal defense lawyer.
An experienced local attorney will have knowledge of what specific Colorado criminal laws may apply to your case, as well as what defenses may be available to you. Additionally, an attorney may also represent you in court, as needed.