Laws governing the classification of crimes as violent or non-violent vary between states. Typically, violent crimes involve physical force and/or harm to another person’s body, with the severity of the crime based on the extent of the victim’s injuries. Some states impose harsher penalties for crimes resulting in serious bodily harm or injury, especially if a deadly weapon is used.
Certain offenses, such as threats of injury, may be considered violent even if the victim was not physically harmed. Victim characteristics, such as being a police officer, woman, or child, may also increase the severity of charges against the defendant.
Violent crimes include assault, battery, robbery, various types of homicide, kidnapping, domestic violence, sexual assault, false imprisonment, and armed robbery. These crimes may be classified as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances.
Unintentional acts, such as DUI-related homicide, may also be categorized as violent crimes, depending on the facts of the case and the jurisdiction.
What Happens After Being Charged With a Violent Crime?
After being charged with a violent crime, the next step is typically an arraignment, where you may post bail or remain in jail until trial or case resolution. At trial, you can present your defense, and your attorney may negotiate a plea deal.
If you are convicted of a violent crime, you will proceed to the sentencing phase, where the punishment for your behavior will be determined. Sentencing varies by state and crime severity, with different levels of potential sentences for different crimes. While state processes may differ, the federal process following a conviction involves a penalty.
What Are the Penalties for Violent Crime?
As mentioned previously, penalties for violent crimes depend largely on the severity of the charges. Penalties are also based on the nature of the crime, the extent of the victim’s injuries, aggravating factors such as weapon use, and victim characteristics.
More serious felonies like murder or kidnapping can result in a prison sentence of five to ten years or more, along with significant fines. Lesser crimes like battery may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, resulting in less than a year of jail time and lighter fines.
Other penalties can include the loss of the right to bear arms and paying restitution to the victim.
Am I Eligible for Parole or Probation for a Violent Criminal Offense?
Parole is a form of criminal sentencing that allows for the early release of a defendant, but eligibility and requirements vary by state. Usually, the defendant must serve at least one-third of their sentence before being eligible for parole. After release, the parolee may be supervised by a parole officer and required to meet certain conditions, such as staying out of trouble and performing community service.
Supervised probation is an alternative to jail time that also involves following strict rules, such as adhering to a curfew and staying employed. If these rules are broken, the offender may be sent to prison.
While similar, the main difference between parole and probation is that parole involves supervision after a defendant has served some or most of their sentence, while probation is an alternative to jail time. Eligibility for both forms of sentencing depends on state laws, with violent crimes generally not being eligible for either.
Are There Any Legal Defenses for Committing a Violent Crime?
Legal defenses for violent crimes can vary depending on the state, criminal history, and facts of the case.
Here are some additional common legal defenses that a defendant may use to fight charges of a violent crime:
If the defendant was forced to commit the violent crime under threat of harm, they might be able to claim duress as a defense. However, this defense is typically only successful if the defendant can prove that they faced an immediate and credible threat of harm if they did not commit the crime.
Defense of Others
Similar to self-defense, a defendant may be able to claim that they used force to protect another person from harm. In this case, the defendant would need to prove that they reasonably believed the other person was in danger of harm and that their use of force was necessary to protect that person.
Defense of Property
A defendant may be able to use force to defend their property in certain circumstances. However, this defense is limited and typically only applies when the use of force is necessary to prevent a serious crime, such as a burglary.
If law enforcement officials induced the defendant to commit a violent crime that they otherwise would not have committed, they might be able to claim entrapment as a defense. However, this defense can be difficult to prove.
If the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated during their arrest or the investigation of their case, they might be able to use that violation as a defense. For example, if evidence was obtained illegally, it may be excluded from the trial.
A defendant may be able to prove that they were elsewhere at the time of the alleged crime, which would make it impossible for them to have committed the offense. An alibi defense may require witness testimony or physical evidence to support the defendant’s claim.
Statute of Limitations
In some cases, the statute of limitations may have expired on the alleged crime, meaning that the defendant cannot be prosecuted. The length of the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of crime and the state where it occurred.
If the police engaged in misconduct during the investigation or arrest of the defendant, such as using excessive force or violating their rights, the defense might be able to use this as a defense.
Not all of these defenses will apply to every case. It’s always best to consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine the best course of action in your particular situation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Criminal Charges?
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s crucial to seek legal counsel from a local criminal lawyer promptly. A local criminal defense attorney with experience will have a thorough understanding of your state’s laws and how they will apply to your case.
Your attorney will assess the situation and determine if any legal defenses are available to you, which they can then present during your trial. Additionally, they can represent you in court as necessary while working to safeguard your rights and potentially reduce your sentence.
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