Every state has different criminal law statutes that outline the different types of crimes and criminal charges. Oftentimes, crimes are organized according to the subject matter of the crime. For instance, there are categories like:
- Property crimes like breaking and entering
- Various theft crimes
- Vandalism crimes like arson , including arson of personal property
- Violent crimes such as batteries and the different homicide crimes
- Sexual assault crimes
- Other personal crimes such as false imprisonment and kidnapping
- Drunk driving and DUI/DWI crimes
- Drug crimes
- White collar crimes such as fraud and tax evasion
Within each category of crime, there can be many subcategories, such as 1st and 2nd degree murder, theft and grand theft, etc. There is also a whole section of crimes relating to juvenile offenses, which are prosecuted differently than adult offenses.
What Are the Typical Penalties for Crimes?
Penalties for crimes depend on the seriousness of the charges. Most jurisdictions make a distinction between misdemeanor crimes. These are less serious charges that are punishable by a short jail sentence and sometime, criminal fines. The jail sentence is typically a maximum of one year. Examples of misdemeanors include simple assault, common theft, and battery.
More serious crimes are categorized as felony charges. These result in higher criminal fines and sentences in a prison facility rather than a county or local jail facility. The prison sentences often range anywhere from greater than one year to 10 or 20 years, or often life imprisonment sentences.
The least serious types of crimes are called infractions or citations. These or usually accompanied by a warning and a small fine, with no jail time. Examples of such violations include certain alcohol crimes and trespassing crimes.
What Are Criminal Defenses?
Criminal defenses may allow a person to have their sentences reduced or the charges dropped, even though they may have committed a criminal act. A criminal defense serves as a justification for the person’s actions due to various circumstances. Some common criminal defenses include intoxication, necessity (the person committed the act out of necessity), duress (the person was forced to commit the crime), and insanity.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Criminal Laws?
Criminal laws can be complex and difficult to understand. They may also vary greatly from area to area. It’s in your best interests to hire your own criminal attorney if you need help with a criminal case. Your attorney can represent you in court and can help with your defense case. Also, your lawyer can keep you posted regarding any changes in the laws in your area.