Minnesota Criminal Lawyer

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Criminal law, also known as penal law, is the system by which the government enacts and enforces laws, and prosecutes those who have committed crimes or been suspected of committing crimes.

Criminal laws can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but a crime can be broadly defined as an act, or an omission of an act, in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding that act. Though there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments.

Crimes include both felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious and include such crimes as rape, murder, aggravated assault, grand theft, torture, kidnapping, embezzlement, fraud and arson. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses, like petty theft, prostitution, disorderly conduct, vandalism and jaywalking.

The penalties and punishments for crimes vary as well, but a felony is often defined as a crime for which the punishment is no less than one year's confinement in a federal or state prison, and a misdemeanor as a crime that is punishable by one year or less in a local or county jail. Other sentences may be given instead of, or in addition to, incarceration. Fines, community service, mandatory completion of rehabilitation programs, probation or parole are all common means of punishing a convicted criminal. It is highly unlikely that a first-time misdemeanant will face jail time. Usually a first offense for a misdemeanor is punished with a fine, and only subsequent misdemeanor convictions will send the offender to jail.

Whether or not you are guilty, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the best criminal attorney you can afford on your side. In the United States justice system, you will have an public defender assigned to you if you cannot pay.

A qualified criminal attorney can assist you through every step of the process, from arrest and arraignment to jury trial and sentencing. There is a chance, depending on the severity of the crime with which you are charged and your previous criminal record, that you and your criminal attorney can negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. This means that, in exchange for fulfilling some requirement, such as mandatory completion of a rehabilitation program, you can have your charges reduced or your sentence lightened. Plea deals are of course beneficial to the defendant, but can also be a boon to overloaded legal dockets and strained court systems.

Your case may go to trial, however, and it is here that your criminal attorney will truly bring his or her experience and skills to the table. Before the trial, your attorney will file pretrial motions, research relevant statutes and precedents, and investigate the specifics of your case. Once in court, your attorney will argue your case skillfully before the jury and present the strongest possible defense.

In the United States legal system, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In other words, it is the prosecution that must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant's guilt. It is therefore the defense attorney's job to plant doubt in the minds of the jury.

If you've been accused of a crime, don't take chances with your liberty. Retain a criminal attorney today. The Minnesota Bar Association can help you locate a lawyer who is skilled and experienced in the area of criminal law under which you have been charged. Visit the American Bar Association website. Access to ABA is free.