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In America, the fascination with crime is rampant. We are fascinated by serial killers and curious about the laws that bind them, so much so that crime has been an integral part of American popular culture. Just take a look at top podcasts, Oscar-winning movies, television shows, and this very medium.
But when it comes to crime, it is important to understand criminal law as well. These laws guide how we can and cannot behave in society, and reparations and/or punishments that lay the groundwork for offenders to be given a second chance, if any. Below are nine frequently asked questions about crime and criminal law in America.
What is the most common crime in America?
Property crimes. According to the FBI, 2017 had 7,694,086 property crime offenses. Larceny-theft accounted for 71.7 percent of all property crimes, whereas burglary accounted for 18.2 percent.
How does an arrest become a case?
- The initial 911 call
- An investigation
- The arrest and booking on recommended charges
- The arrest report completed and arrest/recommended charges justified
- The arrest report is sent to the District Attorney (DA) for review
- Your private or public attorney calls the prosecutor
- Official charges are filed or case rejected
Should you get a lawyer, even if you’re innocent?
It is recommended to retain a lawyer as even innocent people end up in jail. On average, there are now over three exonerations nationally per week. The best way to prevent a miscarriage of justice is to hire or retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer. According to San Diego criminal defense attorney George H. Ramos, Jr., roughly 2.3 percent to 5 percent of all United States prisoners are innocent.
Should you get a lawyer if you plan on pleading guilty?
Probably, as a lawyer can help reduce charges and/or make a plea bargain. A lawyer has (or should, at least) have a robust knowledge of the law and can help aid you in your pursuit.
How does a prosecutor determine which charges to file?
A prosecutor must look for a legally sound case and then decide if a conviction is probable. A prosecutor must also decide if the case is worth the resources and consider the victim’s opinions, if there is one. Ultimately, a criminal case is between the government and the accused.
Can you face charges if you attempted to commit a crime but didn’t actually do it?
Yes. Many times, attempting to commit a crime is a crime in itself. The reason behind this statute is to punish people who show themselves inclined to crime.
What are the differences between felony and misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to one year in local, county jail. In addition, being convicted of a misdemeanor may also result in fines up to $1,000. While jail is a possibility, there are also other programs such as counseling and public work service. During a misdemeanor case, you can waive your presence at most court appearances and have an attorney appear on your behalf.
A felony is a crime considered to be more serious and punishment can range from probation to prison time with a minimum sentence of 16 months. Probation can include fines, restitution, counseling, and up to one year in county jail.
What are the most common misdemeanors?
The most common misdemeanor offenses are petty theft, driving under the influence, simple drug possession, being drunk in public, and disturbing the peace.
What are the most common felonies?
Common felonies include robbery, grand theft, drug possession, drug sales, sexual assault, and some domestic violence.
Understanding answers to frequently asked questions about crime and criminal law in America can help inform you and your opinions. The topic of criminal law often evokes feelings about several sub-topics such as the legal system, prison system, recidivism, and crime itself, so it is no surprise why there are so many outlets that highlight crime in American culture.