CRIMINAL LAW
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WHAT IS A CRIMINAL CASE?

 A criminal case occurs when the government is attempting to punish someone for an act that has been classified as a crime by Congress or a state legislature.  

Facts About Criminal Cases:

In a criminal case, a prosecutor initiates and controls the case, not the victim.  The prosecutor may file criminal charges even if the victim doesn't want to.

If a defendant can not afford an attorney, a government-paid attorney will be appointed to them.

A person found guilty of a crime may be ordered to pay a fine or be incarcerated.  

A defendant's guilt must be proven by the prosecutor "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Defendants in a criminal case are entitled to a trial by jury if requested.

WHAT IS A CRIME?

A crime is any behavior that is punishable by fine or incarceration.  In the United States, an act is considered criminal when Congress or a state or local legislature has defined it as a crime.

WHY CRIMES ARE CRIMES:

Many acts that are considered criminal have their origin in moral percepts that were originally only enforced by Churches.

Usually any act that is carried out with an antisocial intent are usually considered punishable.

Other acts that we consider crimes today were adopted from crimes established under English law when the United States became a country.

FELONIES & MISDEMEANORS:

Whether a crime is a Felony or Misdemeanor depends on the potential punishment.  If a law provides for imprisonment for longer than one year, the crime is usually considered a felony.  If the punishment is for less than a year, the crime is considered a misdemeanor.

Felonies are classified according to the seriousness of the offense into five categories:

Capital Felonies - An individual found guilty of a capital felony shall be punished by the death penalty or imprisonment for life.

First Degree Felony - An individual found guilty of a first degree felony shall be punished by imprisonment for life or any term not to exceed 99 years or less than 5 years.

Second Degree Felony - An individual found guilty of a second degree felony shall be punished by imprisonment for any term not to more than 20 years or less than 2 years.

Third Degree Felony - An individual found guilty of a third degree felony shall be punished by imprisonment for any term not more than 10 years or less than 2 years.

State Jail Felony - An individual found guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished by confinement in a state jail for any term not more than 2 years or less than 180 days.

Misdemeanors are classified according to the seriousness of the offense into three categories:

Class A Misdemeanor - An individual found guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $4,000.00 or confinement for a term not to exceed one year.

Class B Misdemeanor - An individual found guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $2,000.00 or confinement for a term not to exceed 180 days.

Class C Misdemeanor - An individual found guilty of a Class C Misdemeanor shall by punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00.