The Basics Of Criminal Law

Criminal law is a type of law that deals with crime and crime offenders. When a person commits a crime, he or she breaks the law and must be punished. Criminal law penalties include money damages, imprisonment, and forfeiture of one’s rights. Misdemeanors and felonies are two types of criminal laws. A misdemeanor is a less serious offense which involves a penalty of one year or less such as traffic offenses, minor assaults or petty thefts. However, a felony includes more serious offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, manslaughter, etc. These offenses include a penalty of one year or more. A highly qualified attorney is the most important thing when it comes to serious criminal offenses. Some of the penalties for anyone who commits crimes include fines, imprisonment, community service, or sometimes death.

Preliminary Hearing

Criminal DiscoveryPreliminary hearing is the first step that has to be taken in criminal cases. It is a way of determining if there is or not probable cause that an offender committed a criminal offense and whether he should be up for trial. A defendant should seriously consider advantages and drawbacks of a preliminary hearing before filing for one. Witnesses in a preliminary hearing can be police officers, victims or eye-witnesses.

Criminal Discovery

Criminal discovery is the process of receiving information about the evidence for and against the defendant. Defendants are not allowed to obtain criminal discovery before filing a motion or making a request. There are various items of criminal discovery from documents and data to weapons and vehicles. A defendant can inspect these items with his defense attorney or file a motion to the court to retest the items.

Plea Bargain

A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor where the defendant confesses he is guilty of a crime to lessen a charge or to avoid going to trial. The prosecutor decides whether to offer a plea bargain or not, and the defendant can request one. The defendant has to confess to committing a crime in court, but a judge can dismiss the plea bargain for numerous reasons.

There are various advantages and disadvantages of a plea bargain. One of the advantages of the plea bargain is lesser penalties than the maximum possible penalties. What is considered as a disadvantage of a plea bargain is losing some of the constitutional rights such as the right to a jury trial, the right to face one’s accuser or the right not to incriminate oneself?

No Contest Plea

A no contest plea is a plea where the defendant neither confesses nor denies committing the crime. The defendant has an immediate right to no contest plea, and it cannot be used as evidence at a later stage. Some other benefits of a no contest plea include no attorney fees, a lighter sentence, taking the blame for someone else to protect them, etc. However, there are some disadvantages of this plea such as treating a no contest plea the same way as the confession of guilt.


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