Criminal Law Information Center
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Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense
Q: Do I need a lawyer's help if I am accused of a crime?
A: It is in your best interest to consult a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible if you suspect you will be facing the criminal justice system. Whether or not you believe you have been wrongfully accused, an attorney will fight for your legal and constitutional rights, and monitor the proceedings for legality and fairness. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for free legal counsel.
Q: What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
A: Exact definitions may vary by jurisdiction, but the traditional definition of a felony is a crime that is punishable by a year or more in jail. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of less than one year. Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors.
Although some criminal defendants think that they can beat the system on their own, having an experienced criminal-defense attorney on your side gives you a better chance of preserving your legal rights.
Winston-Salem Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal defense lawyers at Crumpler Freedman Parker & Witt are led by attorney David Freedman, a board-certified criminal law specialist renowned for the quality and professionalism of his work. The following information is general, and we hope it answers some of your questions. Each criminal case is unique, however, and a defense strategy must address the specific issues involved.
If you are under investigation or have been charged with any criminal offense, it is extremely important to speak with a lawyer before speaking with any law enforcement representative. Preserve your right to the strongest defense possible. We invite you to contact our office in Winston-Salem to arrange a free consultation.
Criminal Defense - An Overview
The criminal justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. The incarceration rate in the United States is much higher than that of many other industrialized countries. Prison sentences are getting longer and more frequent. If you face the possibility of being accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible, preferably even before questioning or investigation by the police. A criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your legal and constitutional rights. Don't delay. Contact Crumpler Freedman Parker & Witt in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
Constitutional Protections for the Criminal Defendant
The United States Constitution and its subsequent amendments define the scope of governmental power and reserve certain individual rights to the people. The first ten amendments, also called the Bill of Rights, contain basic, fundamental rights of individuals on which the government may not impinge. Many of these constitutional rights provide protection to criminal defendants in the criminal-justice system. The 14th Amendment extends substantive due-process rights beyond the federal system to criminal defendants in state courts, where the vast majority of criminal trials occur.
Classifications of Crimes
Because the negative behavior regulated by criminal laws varies from relatively minor to devastatingly violent, crimes are classified into levels or degrees. The classification of a crime reflects its seriousness. The actual classification of a particular offense varies depending on the jurisdiction.
The Right to Counsel
The right to legal counsel is a fundamental right of criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution. Many state constitutions also include this right, and some states provide broader rights to counsel than the federal constitution does. However, state defendants are still entitled to lawyers in certain scenarios, even if their state constitutions do not provide such rights, under the federal constitution via the 14th Amendment.
Finding a Job After a Criminal Conviction
If you have been convicted of a crime, you may wonder if you will be able to find employment. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about knowing whether applicants have criminal records. Part of this fear stems from large jury verdicts that have been rendered against employers for negligently hiring people with criminal histories who subsequently caused harm to others while on the job. Another worry for employers relates to whether they will have to disclose employees' criminal convictions to others. For example, if a company is trying to raise capital, it may need to make certain disclosures to a bank. Will the company have to disclose that an employee has a criminal conviction for embezzlement or money laundering?