Posts Tagged ‘criminal’

What is a Crime?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

According to Dictionary.com a crime is an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.

This means that a crime is some action that the state has determined should be discouraged or eliminated.  The state can’t really keep you from doing bad things, but they can punish you for doing those things and hopefully you will realize that the punishment isn’t worth doing the action.

How does the state punish you?  The big difference between a civil action and a criminal action is that in a criminal action, you can be put in jail and your freedom is taken away.

Trust me, if you don’t like people telling you what to do, you will really not like being in jail or prison!

The state can also give you a fine and possibly take away other privileges (such as taking away your driver’s license or right to vote).

I can’t list all of the activities that are considered criminal or I’d be here all day.

Basically, if you take something that isn’t yours to take, it’s a crime.  If you touch anyone else and they don’t like it, it’s a crime.  If you go somewhere and you aren’t supposed to be there, it’s a crime.  If your actions could cause injury to anyone else, it’s a crime.  If the state has determined that your actions may cause damage to society as a whole, it just might be a crime.

How do you know for sure if your actions might be criminal?  You can check out the Virginia Code.  When anyone is charged with a crime, they must be charged under one or more sections of the Virginia Code.

My advice?  If you are thinking about doing something and you aren’t sure if it is a crime or not…I’d pass and not do it!

Don’t people watch TV anymore????

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I like to watch TV.  I admit it.  I watch a lot of different types of shows, but Law and Order _____ (fill in the blank) and CSI _____ (fill in the blank) and just about every other law enforcement/lawyer/spy show that is around are among my favorites.

They are all a little different, but they all have one thing in common.  They should all teach you that if you are ever arrested, you should say “I want a lawyer” and then you SHUT UP!

Do you know what ‘The Closer’ does when someone says they want a lawyer?  She walks out of the room!

These shows also teach you that police-persons sometimes lie.   The Police-person will tell you that ‘I can’t help you unless you tell me the truth’, but that is a ploy to get you to tell them what you did (and yes, it is legal for them to lie to you).

We get clients all the time that want us to find a way to get them declared innocent of some criminal offense, or help them with a plea bargain, but they’ve already made a confession, or a number of confessions.

I had a client tell me that the only reason he confessed is that they kept asking him questions for 4 hours.  First of all, any mother of a sick infant could do 4 hours of police questioning ‘standing on her head’.  Secondly, if you had asked for a lawyer at the beginning, there would not have been four hours of questioning.

Going into court for a client who has already confessed to the crime is like playing a world-series baseball game….only you start in the 9th inning with 2 outs, 2 strikes against you and you’ve never seen this pitcher before.   The odds are really stacked against you.

Please don’t misunderstand my motives.  I think criminals should be tried and they should get the punishment they deserve.  And I think that the police and prosecutors should do everything they need to do to convict the guilty.  But I also think that the laws are there for a reason and if someone has given you your ‘Miranda’ warnings, you should listen and take advantage of them.

So, I”m going to say something most mothers never say.   Maybe we should watch more TV!

What is the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Felony and misdemeanor crimes are distinguished under Virginia law by the maximum punishment you can receive.

Felonies are crimes punishable by death or imprisonment for more than 12 months. Sentences for Felonies are served in state correctional facilities (prison). Felonies are divided into six classes, with MAXIMUM punishments as follows:
Class 1 Felony: Death, if certain circumstances exist; or life imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine
Class 2 Felony: 20 years to life imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine
Class 3 Felony: 5-20 years imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine
Class 4 Felony: 2-10 years imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine
Class 5 Felony: 1-10 years imprisonment or 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine
Class 6 Felony: 1-5 years imprisonment or 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine

Misdemeanors are crimes punishable by no more than 12 months in jail. Jail sentences for misdemeanors are served at local facilities (county or regional jails). Misdemeanors are divided into four classes, with MAXIMUM punishments as follows:
Class 1 Misdemeanor: 12 months in jail; $2,500 fine
Class 2 Misdemeanor: 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine
Class 3 Misdemeanor: $500 fine
Class 4 Misdemeanor: $250 fine

As you can see, there is a big difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony and there is also a big difference in the maximum sentence between different classes of crimes.

If you have been charged with a crime, you should consider getting legal assistance.