Criminal Law Information
Criminal Law Articles
- What Happens When A Person is Charged With A Crime? - Certain constitutional protections apply to a person charged with a crime.
- The Criminal Process: How it Works - The criminal process typically begins with a stop or an arrest.
- When the Victim of Identity Theft is Your Employee - All across America, the fastest-growing white-collar crime in the nation has been identified as "identity theft" -- and it's affecting individuals and employers alike in insidious ways.
- Additional Criminal Law Articles
Criminal Law Links
- Bureau of Justice Assistance
Supporter of national criminal justice system
- Bureau of Justice Statistics
Statistics about crimes & victims, drugs & crime, homicide trends; general information and links
- CopNet Guide to law enforcement resources
- Criminal Law Information
Free legal information about criminal law and procedures
- Legal Information Institute - Criminal Law
An overview; federal, state, international material and other resources
- U.S. Department of Justice
Information, resources and news
What is Criminal Law?
Criminal law is the area of law that deals with those who commit crimes. Crimes are generally defined as deviant behavior that violates social norms. What is considered a social norm and what is considered deviant behavior is determined both at the federal level and the state level, as are the punishments for various crimes.
Punishments for crimes vary based on the severity of the crime that was
committed and where the crime was committed. In the United States,
crimes are classified in two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are serious crimes that are generally punishable by a year or
more in prison (e.g., armed robbery, murder). Misdemeanors are less
serious crimes that are generally punishable by less than a year in
prison (e.g., petty theft, vandalism).
People accused of crimes are granted certain rights under the US Constitution that protect them from being treated unfairly. Some of these rights include:
- The right to an attorney
- The right to not incriminate oneself
- The right to a speedy and public trial
- The right to an appeal
Consequences for those convicted of a crime can change a person's life
forever affecting career choices, educational opportunities and personal
liberties. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a
skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side if you have been accused of
committing a crime. A criminal defense attorney can not only help you
understand your rights, but make sure those rights are protected.
In addition to protecting your rights, a skilled attorney should also be able to help you develop a strong defense for the charges you face. Contacting an attorney as soon as you are arrested or suspect you may be arrested is imperative. Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side may help you avoid mistakes that could negatively impact your case. Additionally, having an attorney on-hand early will allow sufficient time to strategize your defense and thoroughly investigate the charges you may face.