Criminal Law Information Center
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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. Whether or not you believe you have been wrongfully accused, 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 may vary by jurisdiction, but the traditional definition of a felony is a crime that is punishable by a year or more in jail. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of less than one year. Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors.
Sixty-eight percent of those convicted of a felony in 2000 were sentenced to incarceration. That's over two-thirds. If you want to reduce the chances that you'll go to jail, a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is your best ally.
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Facing a potential criminal conviction can be overwhelming. It is important that the charges are properly defended against and that your rights are protected. At the law office of James D. Veldhuis, P.C., we are committed to providing clients with personal attention and honest advice. Our criminal law attorney James Veldhuis has been respectfully and effectively defending clients since 1983 and is an advocate that stands behind them through the defense process.
Mr. Veldhuis defends clients facing a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges, such as drunk driving, drug possession, assault and battery, theft, underage drinking, and other criminal charges. An overview of criminal law information is provided below. To learn more about how our office can defend you, contact our Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, criminal defense lawyer today. We conveniently offer a free initial telephone consultation and are available for offsite or after hours consultations.
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 face the possibility of being accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible, preferably even before questioning or investigation by the police. A criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your legal and constitutional rights. Don't delay. Call today to schedule a consultation.
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 ten amendments, also called the Bill of Rights, contain basic, fundamental rights of individuals on which the government may not impinge. Many of these constitutional rights provide protection to criminal 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
Because the negative behavior regulated by criminal laws varies from relatively minor to devastatingly violent, crimes are classified into levels or degrees. The classification of a crime reflects its seriousness. The actual classification of a particular offense varies depending on the 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, even if their state constitutions do not provide such rights, under the federal constitution via the 14th Amendment.
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 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 a criminal conviction for embezzlement or money laundering?