Violent crimes are criminal or offensive conduct in which the perpetrator or offender uses force or threatens to use force against the victim. Because threats of force or harm are included in the definition, no actual physical harm is required for a crime to be classified as violent.
Examples of violent crime in the United States are as follows:
- Murder and homicide
- Assault and battery
- Rape and sexual assault
- Child physical and sexual abuse crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Some hate crimes
- Some stalking offenses
Will I Get Released on Bail if I am Charged with a Violent Crime?
In many criminal cases, bail is a frequent option to be released while awaiting trial on the charges. However, depending on your state, county and the local prosecutor, bail may be denied and you will have to sit in jail until your trial date.
Violent criminal offenses are considered to cause a public safety issue and certainly a safety concern for the alleged victim. As a result, many judges refuse to allow the charged person to be released until further investigation or until the trial date.
If you are released on bail, you can expect to be ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim in the case as a condition of the bail. Failure to comply with any condition of bail can cause you to be imprisoned until the trial date.
What are the Penalties, If Convicted of a Violent Crime?
Violent crimes are typically divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors generally carry less jail sentences, if at all, in comparison with felonies. Violent felony crimes can carry significant jail sentences including life in prison or even the death penalty if federally charged or in states that still have legal execution.
In many cases, a person convicted of a violent crime, including misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, can be prohibited from owning or carrying a firearm. Being categorized as a violent offender can also prevent you from accessing drug court rehabilitation programs and other court diversion options in the future.
Are there Mandatory Sentences for Violent Crime?
Yes. Many serious and felony violent crimes have mandatory minimums. This means that if convicted of such a crime, the offender may have to serve at least a certain number of years in jail regardless of any personal or mitigating factors involved in the case. In those situations, the judge must order the mandatory sentence and can usually add additional jail time on top of the minimum if the situation warrants it.
Am I Eligible for Parole or Probation for a Violent Criminal Offense?
Maybe. Depending on several factors such as whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor crime, whether mandatory sentencing applies, and the law in your particular state, you may be eligible for parole or probation including after being released from jail. You may be eligible for probation in lieu of jail altogether for some misdemeanor offenses, even if they are violent crimes.
You may consider whether a plea offer provides for a shorter incarceration time with more parole or probation rather than a longer jail sentence.
If you are released, you may be subjected to violent offender conditions that can impact your ability to work and access public benefits. If it’s a sexually based offense, you may be required to register as a sex offender in addition to other conditions of parole or probation.
Are there any Legal Defenses for Committing a Violent Crime?
Yes. If you have been charged with a violent crime, you may have a partial or complete defense to the charges. Common legal defenses for violent crimes include the following:
- Self-Defense: If you were legally justified in your actions in order to protect yourself from an ongoing attack, you may be entitled to a complete self-defense. Partial self-defense may also be permitted to decrease the charges from intentional to involuntary if your actions were unreasonable or more severe than the law permits.
- Consent: If the victim consented to the action, you may have a defense. This is most commonly used in rape and sexual assault cases. However, a minor does not have the legal ability to consent to sexual touching thus this defense does not apply to child sexual abuse or statutory rape cases.
- Mental Incapacitation or Insanity: If you were unable to understand the consequences and could not control your actions at the time of the incident due to a mental disease or defect than you may have a partial or total defense.
- Intoxication: If severely intoxicated, you may have a partial defense to a violent crime that requires a certain mens rea or specific intent in order to be found guilty.
- Defense of Property: If you were defending your property against a trespasser using force against you, you may be entitled to this defense.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if I was Charged with a Violent Crime?
Yes. If you have been charged with a violent crime, particularly a felony, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A lawyer can explain your rights, investigate your case, and represent you in court. A criminal lawyer can also evaluate whether a legal defense applies to the facts of your case and negotiate on your behalf for a lesser sentence.