Contrary to stereotypes of hard-nosed prosecutors and stern judges, not every District Attorney or criminal court judge is out to lock up every lawbreaker for the maximum term. In every state, there are programs designed to keep offenders out of jail and to steer them away from future offenses. We’re all familiar with probation, which substitutes supervision for jail time.
In recent years, other types of alternative approaches have been implemented. We’ve documented several of them: Mental Health Courts, Drug Courts, Juvenile Diversion, Veterans Courts, Adult Diversion, Family Dependency Treatment Court, and Traffic School… Read More
With the Trayvon Martin case, including the recent second degree murder charges against George Zimmerman making national news, violent crime is at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. The Martin/Zimmerman case has raised questions about who the true victim really was. Although we may not know the answer to that question until the case has been resolved, unfortunately there are thousands of crimes committed every day, leaving victims to deal with the aftermath. Often there is so much focus on the perpetrators of crime that the victim gets somewhat left behind by court systems. However, more and more courts are … Read More
Few people have ever heard the term “conflict defender” and fewer still could guess what it means. But it can be an important term for some criminal defendants who cannot afford a lawyer.
Last month we discussed Public Defenders, who provide criminal defense services to indigent defendants. Anyone facing possible loss of liberty is entitled to a free court-appointed lawyer if he or she can’t afford to hire one. A Public Defender’s Office is often the source of the court-appointed lawyer. However, the Public Defender’s Office may not be able to take the case if it presents a conflict … Read More
If you’ve watched more than a handful of crime dramas on TV, you’re familiar with the Miranda warning given when someone is arrested. The exact words may vary a little from state to state, but it’s usually very close to this:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in court. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees (among other things) that no person may be compelled … Read More
We’ve all heard various tips and tricks for “getting out of” a traffic ticket. For instance, many people believe that if the police officer makes a single mistake in writing up the ticket, no matter how trivial, that the judge will be forced to dismiss the citation. Another oft-repeated story is that if a person goes to court to fight the traffic ticket and the police officer who issued the citation does not show up, the ticket will automatically be thrown out. How true are these stories? Is it really so simple to get out of a ticket, even if … Read More
Bail reform has increasingly become an important issue over the past 30 years. One of the main issues addressed by bail reform advocates is idea of holding criminals suspects in jail pending their trial. Advocates try to further the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty,” by ensuring the release of certain suspects until their trial date.
In theory, this seems to be a reasonable approach. After all, if you are in fact innocent until proven guilty, then why should you be required to sit in a jail cell? Yet, all things considered, there are some individuals who pose such a … Read More
If someone has been tried for once for a certain offense, don’t expect to see their name again on different court records, being tried for the same crime. This is thanks to the concept of double jeopardy. The 5th Amendment of The United States Constitution contains a provision stating “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” From this provision came the legal concept of double jeopardy.
Double jeopardy means being prosecuted twice for the same offense. In the US legal system, because of the 5th Amendment, individuals … Read More
If you are involved in a legal case, there are numerous people in numerous legal roles that could have a major role in your case. As such, today I dedicated this article to looking at who these people are, and what they do. Below, I take a look at some of the key roles of those involved in legal proceedings.
Judge: A judge is the person who presides over the court matters. There are many different types of judges, and they can either be appointed or elected. Judges are also responsible for writing their opinions, called Court Opinions, once a … Read More
Criminal Cases vs. Civil Cases
What is the difference between a civil case and criminal case? Two of the fundamental differences include the nature of the act being addressed and who initiates the legal action.
In a criminal case, the lawsuit is brought by a government entity, including federal, state, and local governments because crimes are typically considered as an act against society. A prosecutor, on behalf of the government brings this lawsuit against the person accused of a crime. As such, when viewing a criminal court records, the title may say something like “State vs. John Doe.” The legal … Read More