Louisiana Criminal Lawyer

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Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Louisiana. A total of 659 individuals have been executed in Louisiana, including 27 since 1976. A total of 88 people are under a sentence of death in the state as of October 2007. The current method of execution in Louisiana is lethal injection.

Although capital punishment, also known as the death sentence, is the most extreme form of punishment for a crime, there is a range of punishments. The sentence which a convicted criminal receives will depend on many things: the nature of the crime itself; the jurisdiction in which the crime was prosecuted; the criminal record of the defendant; the opinion of the prosecution, victims and probationary department; and the vagaries of the sentencing judge.

Punishments for felonies range from the death sentence, to life in prison with or without the potential for parole, to fines, community service, and probation or parole. Convicted felons may also be subject to the revocation of certain professional licenses and to the denial of particular civil rights, such as the right to hold public office or the right to vote.

Felonies include, but are not limited to, such crimes as: rape, murder, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault and/or battery, espionage, fraud, forgery, grand theft, drug trafficking and treason.

Misdemeanors, in contrast, are less serious crimes that include but are not limited to: prostitution, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, vandalism, trespassing, petty theft, and traffic violations. The punishments for misdemeanors are similar to those for felonies, although usually substantially less serious. A misdemeanant may be assessed a fine, sentenced to community service or a treatment or education program, or incarcerated. Most first- and second-time misdemeanants are not incarcerated, but upon subsequent violations they could face time in a local or county jail, usually for periods of less than one year.

Criminal law, also known as penal law, involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. A criminal case should not be confused with a civil case, which is when an individual or group brings suit against another party (an individual, group or company) in order to seek financial restitution. A person may be tried on both criminal and civil charges for the same crime.

A criminal attorney provides legal representation to individuals facing criminal charges. The criminal laws vary by state and a certified Louisiana criminal lawyer attorney must be licensed to practice within the particular jurisdiction, as well as be knowledgeable of the procedures and guidelines applicable in Louisiana. A person facing charges of a criminal offense must seek legal guidance from a qualified criminal lawyer as soon as possible. This ensures that any legal points that may be vital to the outcome of a case are identified early on, and helps the client act appropriately in the event that the case goes to trial.

It is important to understand that the actual case is never between the victim or the complainant and the accused, but is between the defendant and the state. Therefore it is the duty of the state prosecutor to prove beyond any reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused in order to issue a sentence equivalent to the crime charged. The state, with its access to the required resources, therefore employs experts to assist in proving the guilt of the accused. The criminal lawyer must endeavor to represent a client as expertly as possible to gain the benefit of any remedy that the legal system permits and provide a skillful defense as long as it is within the limitations of the law. An attorney's duty to protect the client's best interests at all costs is authorized by the legal system and acknowledged as necessary as long as the lawyer does not perform a fraud on the court in doing so.

Once the defendant hires an experienced criminal attorney, it is important to be as forthright and open to the lawyer on the details relevant to the charges. A criminal attorney has the duty of confidentiality and is professionally bound not to reveal any information about a client, unless authorized to do so by the client or required by law. This commitment is required even after the lawyer ceases to represent the accused.