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Criminal Law Questions and Answers

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Notice: Please note that if you have been charged with a criminal offense, you will likely benefit from consulting a criminal defense lawyer. You may find this article on "How To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer" to be helpful.

How Are Criminal Charges Filed?

Criminal proceedings take place in a series of stages. Usually, the police are responding to a citizen's complaint that a crime has been committed. Sometimes, the police observe suspicious activity. Once they are called, or see something suspicious, the police investigate, take statements from witnesses, and prepare a report on their findings. At times, they will arrest people during the course of their investigation. At other times, they will complete their report and submit it to the prosecutor's office for evaluation, and a prosecutor will decide whether charges should be filed against any suspects named in the police report.

The exact procedure for how charges are filed varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions give the police greater discretion in charging defendants with specific crimes, while others place more power with the prosecutor's office. After being stopped by the police, a person may be ticketed for a "civil infraction," may be ticketed or arrested for a "misdemeanor," or may be arrested for a "felony."

While it is common to speak in terms of being "charged by the police," in many states this is not entirely accurate. The exact procedure for how charges are filed varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and, although the police may arrest a person and may recommend a specific charge, in many jurisdictions criminal charges are chosen solely by the prosecutor's office.

How Will My State Handle A Criminal Investigation or Prosecution?

The exact manner in which criminal cases are handled varies from state to state, and from county to county. The following materials provide an outline of the criminal justice system, from the time the police first stop or question a suspect through conviction and sentence. However, the laws of your state may differ from those described herein.

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What Happens In Juvenile Criminal Cases?

Increasingly, the rights of crime victims are being recognized and protected by the states. Victims often have the right to be informed of all court proceedings, and to speak at a defendant's sentencing.

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What Happens In Drunk Driving Cases

Drunk Driving Cases present issues and complications that are unique. It is often best to seek the assistance of an attorney who specializes in drunk driving defense, in order to evaluate any defenses that you may have, and to minimize the potential consequences to your driver's license and your freedom.

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What Constitutional Rights Apply In Criminal Cases?

State and Federal constitutions provide important protections to the public, to people suspected of crimes, and to people who are being prosecuted for crimes.

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What Rights Do Crime Victims Have?

Increasingly, the rights of crime victims are being recognized and protected by the states. Victims often have the right to be informed of all court proceedings, and to speak at a defendant's sentencing.

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