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Criminal Law 101: How Criminal Justice Works?

06 September, 2018

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The reasons why criminal law is essential are wide and serious. But we can sum up its importance by saying it protects and serves the community. It protects us by dealing fairly with individuals who cause others harm to others. This law benefits the community, and it exists for the following reasons:

•    To make sure the society understands what a crime is

•    To show the law can hold who allegedly committed the crime accountable

Everything must have a due process including people who are accused. They hold the right to face their accuser. The evidence is compiled and presented as demanded by statutes (made sure) isn’t manipulated and affect the court’s decision


It assures the accused have the right to defend themselves and those who were violated have the right to seek justice.

We are going to explain how criminal law works. First, we will discuss the basics, how it is different from civil cases and what different practices are used to defend the innocent. We are trying to encapsulate these things the best we could.

Basics of Criminal Court

A Criminal Court is where you go when criminal charges are filed against you.  Every country has their own rules to process a trial and criminal charges. The only thing that is accepted globally is you are innocent until proven guilty.

Difference Between Criminal and Civil Case

Criminal case happens when a case is filed to punish someone for committing a crime. If the defendant is found guilty, they will go to jail.

The civil case takes place when an individual, business and agency sue someone else because of a dispute. If someone loses a civil case, they will reimburse the opposite party. The accused doesn’t necessarily go to jail.

Criminal Case requires the defendant proved guilty beyond doubt. The person can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. If the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the court will assign one to him. If a party cannot afford a lawyer, they have to represent themselves. However, a court-appointed lawyer is not possible for an infraction case.  The defendant always has the right to trial by jury, except for infraction.

The Civil Case requires the plaintiff to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. It means that apathy to a civil case can win if they convince the jury or judge that their story is more convincing that than the opposition.

Types of Cases

There are three types of criminal cases. We are going to explain them briefly.


An infraction is a minor violation, for example, Traffic Violations. The punishment is mostly fine, and if the defendant pays the fine, they don’t go to jail.


A misdemeanor is a crime with severe punishment including:

•    Six months or 1 year in county jail or

•    $1,000 fine (most cases)

Following are some examples of misdemeanors:

•    Petty Theft

•    Vandalism

•    Driving with Suspended License

•    DUI (Driving Under Influence)


A Felony is a serious crime; if found guilty, the defendant is sent to jail for a year for more. They can receive death penalties for severe crimes. In most cases, if the defendant is proved guilty, he is sent to a State Prison with a sentence of 16 months or more.  Following, we will share some examples of these offenses:

•    Robbery

•    Rape

•    Murder

•    Possession of Controlled Substances for sale

•    Felonies

Proven Defense Strategies

Following, we will explain three proven strategies qualified defense lawyers use to help their clients.

Before Trial

Criminal Defense Attorneys use a few tactics before the trial starts, these included,

•    Review Your Arrest Details

•    Review the Paperwork Filed by Police

•    Review Evidence

Reviewing these details grant several benefits. For example, when a police officer administers a breathalyzer test, the officer must have a proper license to use the device. The lawyer scrutinizes paperwork to see whether the officer using this device was licensed or not. If he wasn’t licensed (or lost one), the test becomes inadmissible.

The defense should know about the evidence used by the prosecution before it is introduced in court. It’s possible evidence provided by the prosecutor is not admissible. Moreover, if the officer failed to recite Miranda rights properly, the criminal’s confession becomes inadmissible.

For example, the subject may have robbed a home, but if the police forced the suspect in confession without reviewing his rights, that confession is inadmissible as evidence.

Defense Tactics

Depending on the case and circumstances, a lawyer uses different tactics to defend his client. Following, we are going to explain two common strategies:


This defense challenges the prosecution by satiny that an element of the charge is missing. For instance, if someone accused of larceny believed that the property is his, this negates the prosecution’s point that the defendant intended to steal them. This casts a reasonable doubt.

In first degree murder, the prosecution must prove that the murder was premeditated. This means the crime was planned. The defense lawyer can cause doubt on premeditation aspect, this negates the prosecution case and reduces the charge.


The criminal defense lawyer tries to refute the defendant’s liability by presenting the following causes:

•    Self Defense

•    Entrapment

•    Coercion or Duress

•    Insanity

•    Abandonment and Withdrawal

•    Intoxication

•    Necessity

Affirmative defenses don’t claim outright innocence. Instead, they show circumstances in which the defendant can legally excuse for their actions.

Self Defense

A viable strategy when it seems like the defendant tried to protect himself. If the defendant shot and killed the attacker, who pointed a gun and threatened him, the defendant acted in self-defense (but with explanation). The lawyer makes an argument that the accused took action to avoid getting killed.

Coercion or Duress

Coercion or Duress is a strategy to claim the accused was forced to commit a crime under the threat of harm. The harm is not irrelevant because the lawyer is emphasizing the driving factor of the defendant’s crime. This defense is not viable if the accused knowingly or negligently put themselves under the dangerous condition.

It is a viable strategy if the accused was involved in dealing drugs and the dealer threated to harm him or his family if he didn’t participate. Another example, If the defender was threatened at gunpoint after the attacker forced him into the car and ordered the defendant to drive him to safety, coercion, and duress prove a viable strategy.

Abandonment and Withdrawal

This defense is applicable when the defendant can prove that they withdrew from the crime before it took place. To make it work, the defendant must show his actions didn’t help the cause or crime to succeed, and when the defendant was notified, he tried to stop the crime.

For example, if the defendant planned to help a group rob a store, but then opted out of the situation and notified the law agencies, he can use withdrawal or abandonment to defend himself.


This is the case where the defendant tries to avoid harm by disobeying the law. For instance, the defendant drove with his pregnant wife who went into labor; he had to break several traffic laws to get her to a hospital quickly.

Remember, you have established that you broke the law, but you did it because you had no other choice. The judge can rule you broke the law, but the danger posed by driving isn’t worse than the harm to her if she didn’t want receiver medical attention.


Voluntary intoxication won’t help your case, especially if the defendant drank too much. But if the lawyer proves that someone slipped something in his drink, it will strengthen your case. It is possible the accused drank something within it and blacked out and committed the crime unintentionally.


For this strategy to work, the defendant needs a history (record) of mental illness. The accused may suffer from schizophrenia and commitment a crime while he suffered from a psychotic episode. If the mental illness is proven, the defendant will be put into a mental institute instead of a prison.


This is a defense in which a Government Official is involved. If an undercover officer asks to buy a controlled substance from the defendant and he refused a few times before giving in to his demands, entrapment is a feasible defense. Providing the defendant an opportunity to commit a crime won’t work easily, especially if the defendant readily handed drugs in exchange for money.

Hire an Expert

Transparency is very important.  If you hide something from your lawyer, you may pay a heavy price. There are different sides of every story, and the prosecution will present its own version. The defense will share another side of the story that will portray the defendant in the best light possible.

However, you must remember that only the specific circumstances of a case decide which defense will be ideal for the defendant. An ideal lawyer knows these techniques and comes up with solid defense for your case. When you work with an experienced attorney who will represent your case, you must tell him the whole truth, admit everything so he can’t present the best version of the story.

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