Criminal laws are a category of laws which deal with violations of criminal statutes. Criminal laws vary from state to state.
In addition, there are federal laws which apply to criminal offenses. A crime is defined as conduct or behavior which is considered dangerous to the community and can be punished by a sentence in jail or prison.
Criminal liability is different from civil liability, which typically only involves a civil fine. In addition, violations of criminal laws are prosecuted by the state, whereas a civil conflict occurs between two or more private parties.
What Are Some Different Types of Crimes?
There are numerous different types of crimes. Examples of broad categories of crimes include:
- Property crimes;
- Theft crimes;
- White collar crimes;
- DUI and alcohol-related crimes; and
- Violent crimes.
A crime may also be categorized according to the degree of severity. The two major categories of crime classification include misdemeanors and felonies.
Misdemeanors, including criminal coercion, are punishable by criminal fines as well as incarceration, typically with a 1 year maximum. Examples of felonies may include most alcohol-related charges and assault and battery.
A felony charge may be punishable by several years in a prison facility in addition to higher monetary fines. Examples of felonies include:
- Homicide charges;
- Burglary; and
What is a Misdemeanor Crime?
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are considered more serious than citations but less serious than felony charges. Misdemeanor crimes are considered less serious to moderate crimes which are associated with less serious punishments.
Misdemeanor offenses may include a very wide range of criminal offenses and violations, for example:
In the majority of states, the main feature which distinguishes misdemeanors is that they are usually punishable by incarceration of one year maximum in a county jail facility. This is in contrast to felonies, where punishment is typically served in a state prison facility.
There are a wide range of crimes which are classified as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor crime may range from property crimes to assault and battery to other violations.
It is important to note that state laws can vary widely regarding which crimes are classified as misdemeanors.
There are some states which have a category of crimes referred to as wobblers. Wobbler offenses are those which may be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances of the case.
For example, depending upon the value of the property that was damaged or the severity of the injury a victim suffered, a crime may be classified as more or less serious. States which have wobbler categories include:
- Connecticut; and
Some states, such as Alabama, do not have wobbler classifications. If an individual is unsure about the classification of a particular crime in their area, they can consult with a criminal lawyer.
What is the Punishment for a Misdemeanor?
The criminal punishment for a misdemeanor crime may include a mix of both jail time, served in a county jail facility and not a state prison facility, in addition to criminal fines. A misdemeanor offense will usually carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail, or less than 365 days.
The criminal fines are usually capped, or limited, at $1,000. It is important to note, however, that this amount may vary by state.
The consequences and punishments for a criminal misdemeanor conviction will also depend upon the exact type of violation that is involved. For example, for a misdemeanor graffiti sentence, a defendant may be required to perform community service or write a letter of apology to the property owner who was affected.
In contrast, the punishment for a drunk driving conviction may include mandatory DUI classes, traffic school, and other consequences. These requirements may be added in addition to the jail sentence and criminal fines.
What is Contract Coercion?
Contract coercion is defined in the act of entering into a contract under conditions which involve a threat of harm or actual harm. Any contract which is entered into based on a threat of harm or actual physical harm will not be legally enforceable.
Coercion may also be classified as a crime but the crime of coercion does not necessarily involve a contract.
What is Criminal Coercion in Nevada?
In the State of Nevada, criminal coercion is defined as the unlawful act of attempting to or actually forcing an individual to engage in an activity or refrain from engaging in an activity which they have the right to do or refrain from doing.
A perpetrator may attempt to coerce their victim by doing the following:
- Using violence or inflicting injury on the victim of a member of their family;
- Inflicting injury or using violence upon the property of the victim;
- Depriving the victim of any:
- tool; or
- Hindering the victim’s use of any:
- tool; or
- Threatening to cause physical injury to or use violence on:
- the victim;
- their family; or
- their property.
Can I Face Prison Time for a Criminal Coercion Case?
An individual may face prison time for a criminal coercion case, depending on the facts and circumstances. Criminal coercion is typically classified as a misdemeanor if no force was used or if there was not any immediate threat of force.
As noted above, the punishment for a misdemeanor conviction may include:
- Six months in county jail;
- $1,000 criminal fine; or
- Fine and county jail time.
Criminal coercion may be classified as a category B felony if the perpetrator attempted to coerce the victim by the use of force or the threat of force. The punishment for a category B felony may include:
- Six years in prison;
- $10,000 criminal fine; or
- Fine and prison time.
What if the Crime was Sexually Motivated?
If there is a suspicion that coercion was committed due to a sexual motivation, then a court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the coercion was committed for sexual reasons once the defendant is convicted of committing the coercion. The hearing will either occur prior to sentencing or as a separate penalty hearing.
It is up to the prosecutor to prove if the individual engaged in coercion for sexual reasons.
What is a Criminal Defense?
A criminal defense may be raised by a defendant. Different defenses may apply depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.
The majority of crimes require the prosecution to prove that a defendant acted with the intent to commit the offense. Because of this, conditions which negate a defendant’s intent may serve as a defense.
For example, if an individual was forced to do something under the threat of physical harm, it may serve as a defense for their conduct. Another defense which may be available to a defendant is self-defense.
Self-defense is commonly used in cases where a defendant acted in response to an aggressor’s act of violence. Other defenses which may be available include duress or coercion.
An individual should consult with an attorney to determine which defenses are available based on their location and the facts of their case.
Do I Need an Attorney for Criminal Coercion?
If you are facing a charge of criminal coercion in Nevada, it is in your best interest to consult with a Nevada criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can advise you of the laws and possible penalties in your state as well as advise you of your rights.
Your lawyer will represent you throughout the legal process. In addition, your attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction of the charges or, in some instances, have the charges against you dropped.