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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. 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 vary by jurisdiction, but the traditional definition of a felony is a crime that is punishable by a year or more in prison. A misdemeanor is a crime that is generally punishable by imprisonment of less than one year. Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors.
Criminal Defense Information Center
Since 1992, the likelihood of an arrest leading to a conviction has generally risen. Although some defendants think that they can “beat the system” on their own, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is the best way to prevent becoming another statistic.
The Camarillo-based criminal defense lawyers of the Law Offices of Mark R. Pachowicz regularly help people throughout Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Los Angeles, and other areas of California. For more information about our practice, see our practice areas overview. If you would like immediate help with anything from DUI to homicide charges, visit our contact page. For more general information about criminal law, see below:
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 are being investigated or have been arrested, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible, preferably before questioning has taken place. A criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your legal and constitutional rights, so don’t delay. Contact Law Offices of Mark R. Pachowicz, A ProfessionalLaw Corporation in Camarillo, CA, 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 10 amendments, called the Bill of Rights, contain basic, fundamental protections for individuals on which the government may not impinge. Many of these constitutional rights apply specifically to 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
Crimes are classified into levels or degrees, depending on their seriousness. The actual classification of a particular offense varies by 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 because of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, even if their state constitutions do not provide such rights.
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 their 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 been convicted of a white-collar crime like embezzlement or money laundering?
Criminal Defense Resource Links
ACLU: Prisoners’ Rights
Resource provided by the American Civil Liberties Union with information on national and state efforts to recognize and protect prisoner’s rights.
“Justice Denied” is a magazine devoted to helping people who have been wrongly convicted of crime in the U.S. and abroad.
Prison Policy Initiative
The Prison Policy Initiative conducts research and advocacy about incarceration, imprisonment trends and criminal justice policy.