The U.S. justice system divided into to two distinct branches, civil law and criminal law. Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act legally classified as a crime. People convicted of a crime may be incarcerated and/or fined.
Criminal cases differ fundamentally from civil lawsuits. Criminal prosecution intends to punish undesirable actions, while civil lawsuits generally intend to enforce private rights or obligations or redress private wrongs. In a criminal case, the state brings charges against the accused through a prosecutor, while civil cases generally are between private parties or between a private party and a government entity.
Crimes include both felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies usually are punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are punishable by less than a year. However, no act is a crime if it has not been previously established as such either by statute or common law.
Felony v. Misdemeanor
Crimes are generally categorized as felonies or misdemeanors based on their nature and the maximum punishment that can be imposed. A felony, sometimes called a “high crime,” involves serious misconduct that is punishable by death or by imprisonment of over one year (although the punishment can be less than one year at the judge’s discretion). Most state criminal laws subdivide felonies into classes with varying degrees of punishment. Examples of felonies include murder, manslaughter, rape, fraud, robbery, racketeering, arson and white collar crime.
Lesser crimes are classified as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is misconduct punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine. Examples of misdemeanors include traffic violations, petty theft, simple assault and battery, trespass and public intoxication.
Each year, the FBI publishes crime statistics in its Uniform Crime Reporting program. The reports provide not only helpful statistics but also crime classifications and definitions. UCR categorizes serious crimes as Part I offenses and less serious crimes as Part II offenses. Below we list samples of each type of crime in name only under each category. For description, full information and details, please visit the source.
Part I Offenses
- Aggravated assault
- Forcible rape
- Property Crimes
- Motor vehicle theft
Part II Offenses
- Curfew violation/loitering:
- Disorderly conduct:
- Driving under the influence
- Drug law violations
- Forgery and counterfeiting
- Liquor-law violations
- Offenses against the family (e.g., nonsupport
- Prostitution and related offenses
- Public drunkenness
- Sex offenses (e.g., statutory rape)
- Simple assault
- Stolen property
- Weapons Vagrancy
New or Notable Crimes
- Corporate/white-collar crimes
- Hate crimes
- Identity theft
- Organized crime
Criminal attorneys serve an important role in the United States justice system by defending a person accused of a crime. Criminal attorneys help protect the rights of people accused of crimes. Constitutional provisions protecting the rights of the accused to due process of law aim to ensure that people are not persecuted for crimes they didn’t commit. The job of a criminal attorney is to ensure that the accused is not deprived of these constitutional rights.
West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Law Firm
The Law Firm of Andrew D. Stine is located in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida. The firm’s criminal defense team includes:
- Criminal defense lawyer Andrew Stine
- Eric Centeno, a paralegal fluent in Spanish
- Dan Delois, an investigator with more than 25 years of experience
This team has met and interviewed countless defendants in federal, state and county jails, medical hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, juvenile facilities, and at numerous crime scenes throughout Florida and other states. When summoned, the team stands ready to represent clients who are in the process of having search warrants served on their homes, barns, out-buildings and even grow houses. The firm offers assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the firm’s emergency phone number: (561) 832-1170.
Many attorneys choose not to get involved in a criminal case until the defendant has been formally charged with a crime. Mr. Stine’s philosophy is the opposite. His experience has proven that there is no substitute for early intervention, which gives his clients a head-start on the prosecution. This gives the lawyer more time to:
- Conduct investigations
- Interview witnesses
- Research all legal options
The Office of the State Attorney in each Florida Judicial District employs “charging lawyers” whom determine the appropriate crime to charge. Lawyer Andrew Stine believes that it is imperative for the charging attorney to know who you really are and to show that you are much more than what the law enforcement agent or victim makes you out to be. That philosophy, along with Mr. Stine’s high level of trial preparation and creative defense strategies, has established an unprecedented track record of success for his clients.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.