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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 08:57 pm
When you hear the words "criminal law", the first thing that comes to mind is crime. Criminal law is a broad area of law that defines crimes and their respective punishments. This webpage will seek to cover the basic elements of criminal law, classification of crimes, the punishment for crimes, the difference between civil and criminal cases, and how a lawyer can help in a criminal case.
Basic Concepts In Criminal Law
Mens Rea is a Latin term that means guilty mind. Culpable mental state is an individual’s state of mind when they set out to commit a crime. According to criminal.findlaw.com, mens rea refers to the thoughts and intentions of an accused person during the time a crime is being committed. A crime requires a guilty act (actus reus) be committed with an equivalent level of guilty mind. Certain acts may only be considered as crimes if done with a particular state of mind. The severity of a crime is determined by considering the perpetrator’s mental status. The mens rea concept enables the justice system to set apart a person with the intention of committing a crime from a person who has no intention of committing a crime. The prosecution is required to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the perpetrator of a crime did so with the required state of mind for executing that specific crime.
Strict liability laws are a class of criminal laws that do not require a claimant to show any mens rea. These laws are satisfied by claiming that a certain act deserves criminal punishment regardless of the perpetrator’s intentions. Statutory rape is a typical example of a strict liability crime.
Motive is a crucial concept in criminal law. It is an indirect means of proving that an act was committed knowingly or intentionally. For example, in an assault case, the defendant could claim that they punched the claimant accidentally and therefore did not have the intent to cause bodily harm. Motive is different from intent. Intent refers to a person’s mental state when they are committing a crime. While the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to commit a crime, they are not required to prove their motive.
Accomplice liability permits the court to find an individual liable for the acts perpetrated by a different individual. If a person assists, encourages, or aids another in the execution of a crime, they are considered to be an accomplice to the offense. The individual who actually executes the act is known as the principal. The criminal act for which an accomplice offers their assistance is known as the target crime.
Classification Of Crimes
According to attorneys.com, the two main classifications of crimes are felonies and misdemeanors. A felony is any crime that attracts a minimum prison sentence of one year. Some states categorize a felony as any criminal offense with a prison sentence. Some typical examples of felonies are: murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, and robbery.
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime. A misdemeanor is a crime that attracts an imprisonment of less than one year. In some states, a misdemeanor is considered as any crime that is punishable by a light jail time or a fine. Some typical examples of misdemeanors are: speeding, trespassing, public intoxication, and vandalism.
Punishment For Crimes
If the court finds you guilty of a crime, it will hand down a sentence during a trial. Federal and state laws have different types of punishments for different crimes. Here are some of the common types of punishments:
Fines: These are assigned to a person who is guilty of a misdemeanor like shoplifting or common traffic violations. The amount that the court will ask for a fine will depend on the provisions of the law and the judge’s discretion.
· Prison time: A person is sent to prison or jail for committing a serious crime like a felony offense. Misdemeanor offenses are also punishable by imprisonment.
· Probation: If the accused can abide by certain rules like not committing other crimes, they can avoid imprisonment and qualify for probation. However, if the accused violates the conditions of their probation, the court could impose their original prison sentence.
· Alternative sentences: These are sentences that do not include imprisonment. These sentences are imposed on people who are accused of misdemeanors. Some typical examples of alternative sentences include rehabilitation programs and community service.
How A Lawyer Can Assist In A Criminal Case
One of the main reasons you should hire a criminal lawyer is to disprove the evidence provided by the prosecution. An attorney will present viable defenses that absolve you from wrong doing. Some of the defenses that a lawyer will present on your behalf include; lack of evidence, lack of mens rea or motive, and duress.
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