September 24, 2013

The Difference Between Murder and Manslaughte

By Corey Joe

There is a thin line between murder and manslaughter. Although the two result in an untimely death, they differ with motives and predetermination. The two also have different punishments depending on the state where the crime occurred.


• First Degree Murder

First degree murder can be a result of intentionally killing a police officer on duty. This can also occur when the offender predetermines and successfully causes a person’s death. First degree murder also includes death from sexual assault, hijacking, kidnapping, hostage taking and forcible confinement. Death from terrorism is also considered a first degree murder.

• Second Degree Murder

On the other hand, second degree murder can be intentional or unintentional. It involves a victim’s death that does not fit in any category given above. This can also be the sentence given to offenders who intentionally kill a person with motives that do not fall under the categories of first degree murder.


• Unlawful Act

An unlawful act is a homicide that involves the victim’s death. This is a result of a death from unintentional acts. An example is when a person punches another individual and causes his or her death. Another instance is when an offender fires a gun and accidentally shoots and kills the victim. It involves the victim’s death from direct assault or from the effects of injuries acquired.

• Criminal Injustice

Criminal injustice is a result of a death caused from the offender’s recklessness. It can result from deliberate acts that are lower than the expected standards for professionals. An example is when a licensed physician fails to maintain legal standards of practice and causes a patient’s death. This is also applicable to any licensed healthcare provider who fails to meet standards and causes death. They can be charged with criminal injustice when the injuries acquired directly lead to the patient’s death.

Voluntary Manslaughter

This is commonly regarded as crimes that arise from the heat of passion. It can occur when the offender is threatened and resolves to kill the victim. Voluntary manslaughter can result from self-defense or provocation. These crimes do not fall under first or second degree murder as there is no intent to kill the victim beforehand.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter results from the offender’s carelessness or recklessness. It can occur when the victim dies due to the offender’s lack of regard for his or her life. Common cases involve reckless driving and negligence from healthcare providers.

Murder vs. Manslaughter

• Motive or Intent


Murder can be in the first or second degree. This is determined through the suspect’s intent or motive. A first degree murder is a planned and deliberate attempt to take the victim’s life. On the other hand, a second degree murder may not have predetermined intent and does not fall under any first degree murder category.


Manslaughter does not involve the predetermined intent to cause a person’s death. It can also take two forms. This includes criminal negligence or unlawful acts. Criminal negligence results from the person’s inability to regard the victim’s life properly. This often happens in cases that involve a licensed professional who shows reckless disregard for the victim. Some cases occur in hospital settings when medical professionals like physicians fail to use their better judgment in keeping the patient safe.

On the other hand, an unlawful act results when the person unintentionally causes the victim’s death through direct assault. Some cases include physical injuries to the victim without the motive to cause his or her death. It can also be from an accidental gunshot that leads to someone’s death.

• Sentence


First degree murder often results in an automatic life sentence. This includes no possibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years. If the offender is paroled after 25 years of imprisonment, he or she will remain under parole for the rest of their life. The offender must report to the designated parole officer and follow strict rules. If they commit another crime, they will be sent back to jail with no possibility of parole.

Second degree murders have lower punishment with life sentences and a possibility of parole after 10 to 15 years of imprisonment. The parole is subject to the judge’s discretion and the offender’s behavior inside prison.


Manslaughter has a slightly lower punishment compared to murder. This is because of the offender’s unintentional motive to cause death. The sentence is also different depending on the crime’s degree and the state where it happened.

Most cases that involve manslaughter result in imprisonment of four or more years. This depends on the kind of manslaughter and the tool used to inflict death. A case involving a licensed professional may have a different punishment than a case that involves an accidental shooting. The probation and parole are also not the same depending on the judge’s discretion.

If you’re innocent and being charged for a serious crime such as manslaughter or murder in Maryland, contact the Maryland criminal defense law firm at Shapiro & Mack.

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Criminal Law Matters in the Local Court

By Leon Apostle -

Strictly Indictable, Indictable or Summary?

Before considering how you want to plead in the local court, you should speak with a lawyer. That’s because you might’ve been charged with a strictly indictable or indictable offence. The more serious offences are ussually transferred to the district court. If you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty before seeing the brief of evidence and being given legal advice you might be doing yourself a serious disservice.

Indictable and Summary Offences

Lets discuss the process of a criminal charge where the matter will be dealt with only in the local court. There are a few different avenues that a case can go down in the local court. This article generally only deals with criminal matters which stay in the local court and do not go up to the district court or a higher court. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is crucial that you seek advice from an admitted solicitor before considering how to plead in court.

I Completely Agree With the Police Facts Sheet

If you completely agree with the police facts sheet it may be the case that you will enter a plea of guilty to the charge. The court will then sentence you based on the facts sheet given to the court.

There might be reasons however not to plead guilty even if you agree with the police facts sheet in its entirety. Like for example there is insufficient evidence to establish what the police say, or there might be a chance that you could have the charge dismissed under mental health legislation, or you want to negotiate with the prosecution to have another charge withdrawn (and don’t want to lose your bargaining power).

If you plead guilty, the magistrate will be given the police facts sheet, a copy of your criminal history (if any) and will hear what you have to say. The magistrate will then deal with the matter by for example by not recording a conviction, issuing a fine, imposing a good behaviour bond, or sentencing you to gaol.

I Agree that I Committed the Crime, Just Not the Way the Police Say

If for example you have been charged with an offence and you agree that you committed the crime but just not the way the police say you did, you might want to consider pleading guilty but disputing the facts. This would mean that a plea of guilty is entered but the matter is adjourned so that your lawyer can write a letter of representations to the police. A letter of representations will set out what you say the facts sheet should look like. If the police do not agree with your proposed facts sheet and changes the matter would get set down for a disputed facts hearing.

At a disputed facts hearing the police will need to prove that you committed the offence the way they say you did beyond a reasonable doubt. An example would be if the police facts sheet alleges punching, kicking and bottling. An accused person might only agree to punching. In this case it might be a matter which goes to a hearing but only for the court to make a decision on the facts. We wouldn’t recommend you do any of these things without legal advice and representation.

I Disagree, I Did Not Commit the Crime

If after reading the police facts sheet and being aware of the charge set out in any Court Attendance Notice you disagree with the allegations and say that you did not commit the offence alleged, you would enter a plea of ‘Not Guilty’.

The matter would be adjourned and ‘Brief Orders’ would be made. Brief Orders are orders in which the magistrate makes the police serve you with all evidence they rely upon on or before a certain date. Brief Orders also specify a ‘Reply Date’ which is a future court date (usually around 6 weeks after the first) where the accused person after having seen the evidence relied upon by the police is given the opportunity to advise the court whether the plea of ‘Not Guilty’ is maintained or the plea is to be changed.

If at the reply date an accused person maintains their plea of ‘Not Guilty’ the case will be adjourned again for a hearing. At the hearing the prosecution will show the court all the evidence it relies upon. The defence might object to some evidence on the basis that it doesn’t comply with the rules evidence. The lawyers will cross examine witnesses and make submissions. The prosecution has the responsibility of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

After the court has considered all admissible evidence, the court will then come to a finding of guilty or not guilty.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, call our principal solicitor 24/7 on 0450 953 884 now!

Disclaimer: This article is for research purposes only. Court proceedings are complex. You should not rely upon any information in this article and it should not be treated as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified legal practitioner.

We’re experienced Sydney family lawyers. Call us on 0450 953 884 to discuss your matter confidentially today. Email enquiries can be sent to

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Court Records Happen to Be an Invaluable and Sometimes Necessary Resource

By Jerry F Jones -

It is crucial to know how you can trace them, whether you are in need of some vital background information about an individual, business, a group of people or whether you are involved in some kind of legal battle or for some other purposes. In spite of the fact that each courthouse has its own different system for record management, maintenance as well as public access, there are still some common aspects to such systems. These include such matters as how to conduct a criminal background investigation, how to run a free background check, how to check on an individual’s criminal record, how to carryout an investigation in relation to dismissed cases which might show up on some criminal background checks. It is also necessary to expunge your criminal records in relation to past convictions and also learning how to speak with a certain judge in the criminal court.

In addition to all these, understanding how to deal with court records will assist you in knowing how to travel with such records, obtain a copy of the Federal or State Criminal Records and look up your criminal records. There will also the need of knowing if someone you are dealing with has some arrest record in case of employers or landlords. Court records are also employed in court monitoring to find out the patterns and trends in relation to particular criminal system.

The process involves some procedures which makes it simpler for one to access the records easily. First you will need to have a list of all the records you are looking for and determine the approximate date when the records were made. Such records in various times frames are kept in alternate approaches in the typical clerk of the office of the court. There will be need to find out if the clerk of the court has available court records in term of online access or computerized form. Although you will find it difficulty to access real documents through the internet unless you are licensed by registered court clerk office or a licensed attorney to get such records, but, at least you should be in a position to access a list of the records in a certain case.

As long as the listing of records for a particular case goes back to at least 10 years, then the court would allow you to access the records through the internet. This can be done by going to the court’s website, there will be a connection in which members of the public can get access to the court information they are in need of. In some cases you will need to get permission from the court in order to obtain sealed records. This is because you will not get access to such sealed records unless you demonstrate legal requirements which are compelling you to get them. In some case such records need not to have been sealed in the first place; you therefore need to demonstrate that such documents need not be sealed.

If you want to get court records this is the best site for it. These include such matters as how to conduct a criminal background investigation, how to run a free background check, how to check on an individual’s criminal record, how to carryout an investigation in relation to dismissed cases which might show up on some criminal background checks.

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Criminal Law Questions – How Do Bail Bonds Work?

By Darrell Hornerand Adam Wolfe -

When a person is arrested for a crime, a judge will set the bail amount based on the severity of the crime and the past criminal history of the defendant. If the defendant is unable to pay the bail amount then they will remain in jail until their scheduled court appearance. This is a problem for many people who get arrested. A person often has work and family obligations, and being locked-up for any extended period of time could bring hardships. People who find themselves in this tough situation need a bail bond in order to get released from custody quickly.

A bail bond is a guarantee between the court and a bail bondsman, or bond company. The bond guarantees that the defendant will come to court for their scheduled appearance. If the arrested party does not come to court then the bail bondsman is responsible for paying the bail amount. Many bail bond companies seek collateral for high bail amounts because the bondsman must pay the bail for a no-show defendant.

The fee for securing a bond agent is 10% of the total amount set by the court. Most state governments set the legal amount that bail bond companies can charge. For example, if bail is set at $50,000 then the defendant would pay $5,000 to the bail bondsman. The bail bondsman’s fee is non-refundable and covers the services provided for securing bail. Most low-cost bail amounts do not require collateral.

Typically it is a friend, relative or loved one who makes first contact with a bail bond company on behalf of the defendant. Being arrested or having a loved one in custody is always stressful. It can also be quite traumatic. Agents must deal with stressed clients everyday and are often ready to help speed the process along. The bondsman will request some basic information in order to begin processing the bond. The agent will ask for the arrested individual’s full name and date of birth, the jail name, city, the date he or she was arrested, and the amount of bail set by the court. A bail bondsman can assist with obtaining information that may be unknown.

Some people are surprised to learn that bail is not considered a source of income for the state, nor is it set to punish the defendant. It truly is just an incentive to get the defendant to appear in court without trying to run from the law. In most situations the bondsman’s fee is relatively affordable and will not greatly impact the defendants finances. Paying the bail bondsman is much more affordable than paying bail or being locked up for weeks. Obtaining a bond from a reputable bail company can be a quick process with minimal hassle.

Horner Bail Bonds is the most trusted source for Hawaii bail bonds and is backed by Bail USA. They are dedicated to helping people in need of bail throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Article Source:—How-Do-Bail-Bonds-Work?&id=7298198



Avoiding A Criminal Record – What is a Diversion?

By Charles Brown

Sometimes the criminal justice system comes up with a good compromise between justice and mercy. This doesn’t happen often, but when a defendant who has no prior criminal record and the offense is not considered serious, a compromise is sometimes reached that allow this person to move past one incident without acquiring a criminal record.

One such compromise is called a “diversion.” A diversion means a case is “diverted” out of the criminal justice system for a period of time (usually one year), during which time the defendant must undergo treatment, counseling, make restitution to the persons harmed or perform community service.

If the defendant meets these conditions, pays all fines and court costs, and does not get into any additional trouble with the law during this time period, the case is dropped and this person does not have a criminal record.

On the surface a diversion sounds good, but in my experience it can be a two-edged sword. Usually, defendants must plead guilty in order to be considered for a diversion. So if, during the time period of the diversion, they fail to comply 100% with the terms of their diversion, or if they get into any other trouble, the courts will automatically find them guilty based on their guilty plea.

This last point is where I have seen many defendants get tripped up. A single alcohol-related incident, a domestic complaint or even the accusation of a crime may be all it takes for a court to revoke the terms of a diversion. And , with that guilty plea already submitted, the defendant’s conviction is a foregone conclusion.

A good criminal defense lawyer can help you negotiate with a prosecutor for a diversion. But as always, be careful about accepting a plea agreement if you are in fact innocent, and have the evidence to support your innocence.

Here again, sometimes it is just better to fight for your innocence in court. But to do this, you must have a good criminal lawyer [] fighting for you.

In order to be considered for a diversion, the defendant is generally regarded as “salvageable” by the prosecutor and the court. This means, they do not regard the individual as a career criminal, but someone who could be straightened out by the counseling, restitution or other terms of the diversion.

Generally, if the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor agree on the terms of the diversion, the judge will agree. But not always. Sometimes a judge will refuse to sign off on a diversion because he or she wants to send a message and show the community that he or she is “tough on crime.”

With harsher drunk driving laws on the books, a diversion may not be an option for driving under the influence in your state.

The key point that I cannot emphasize strongly enough, is to remember that you are under the microscope throughout the time of your diversion, which is generally a year. This means that you must not only fully comply with every detail of your deversion’s requirements, you must also avoid any other run-ins with the law. Particularly alcohol or domestic incidents.

Child custody disputes often turn ugly, with an innocent child in the middle. Fathers particularly have an uphill battle proving they are the more fit parent, even today. Charles Brown, J.D. is a former attorney who offers a free resource for men who want custody of their child. You can subscribe to his free newsletter, written specifically for fathers involved in a child custody dispute, at

Article Source:—What-is-a-Diversion?&id=444151



5 Common Examples of Misdemeanor Offenses

By Euan McConnell -

A misdemeanor is defined as a lesser criminal act that is less severe than a felony and more severe than a regulatory offense. A misdemeanor is the United States of America is punishable by fines, probation, community service and up to twelve months incarceration. Misdemeanors are often classified into several categories based on the severity of the crime. This category system usually has dedicated punishments.

Being arrested for a misdemeanor may not mean a lengthy prison sentence, but it can seriously affect job prospects and certain civil privileges. For example, a school bus driver that gets his or her first DUI may be illegible for future licensing. It is important to seek proper legal counsel for misdemeanors, no matter how petty. Here are five common examples of misdemeanor offenses.

1. Petty Theft

Theft is an umbrella term that encompasses grand theft, petty theft, larceny, stealing, embezzlement and any other instance of taking someone’s property against their will. In most jurisdictions, petty theft is identified by a value amount. For example, petty theft in the state of Washington, California and most other states in the US is theft of under $500. Anything above that, which any Los Angeles or Seattle criminal lawyer will tell you, is classified as grand theft which can be a felony.

2. Public Intoxication

In some states, public intoxication is a misdemeanor. Public intoxication generally involves intoxicated individuals causing a disturbance in a private or public area. Intoxication can be caused by alcohol or drugs. Public intoxication or drunk disorderly conduct is dealt with on a state level, and because of this the penalties vary greatly. California and Kansas both consider public intoxication a misdemeanor, while Nevada and Montana have no public intoxication laws.

3. Simple Assault

Simple assault is a common example of a misdemeanor. Simple assault on police officers, elected officials and social workers are felonies, an exception to most simple assault laws. Simple assault is defined as assault without the intent of injury. An example of simple assault can be attempting to cause someone physical harm or simply invading someone’s personal space.

4. Trespass

Trespassing is the act of someone unlawfully entering, walking on or living on private property. It is common to see “no trespassing” signs on places such as schools and private hunting grounds. Trespassing laws vary among jurisdiction, but are commonly found as misdemeanors. There are certain exceptions to trespassing laws including law enforcement, meter readers and government surveyors.

5. Indecent Exposure

Arguably the most varied misdemeanor is indecent exposure. Since the term “indecent” can mean many different things, it is up for the specific jurisdiction to enforce this misdemeanor. In Washington State, a Seattle criminal attorney would define indecent exposure as intentionally exposing his or her person to another with the knowledge that the action can cause reasonable alarm. Exposing yourself to a minor under the age of fourteen qualifies as gross misconduct, a felony.

Euan McConnell

Seattle criminal lawyer
Seattle criminal attorney

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Computer Crimes and Federal Offenses

By Guy Womack -

If you are under investigation for a computer crime, or if you have already been arrested for such an offense, you are probably under a great deal of stress. Computer crimes involve a wide range of activities that are otherwise illegal. When people use a computer or the internet to further commit such crimes, then they are categorized as computer or internet crimes.

These days, nearly every aspect of our society is digitalized. People can download movies, apply for a credit card, transfer balances between accounts, and pay their bills all with the touch of a button. The expanding functions of the internet have opened a whole new world to criminal outlets and activities. Criminals are finding new ways to break the law at a pace that law enforcement is struggling to keep up with. Because computers have such a large impact on society as a whole, federal prosecutors waste no time or expense in securing criminal convictions against the individuals who commit such crimes. In fact, the federal government has entire task forces devoted to tracking down and arresting people who commit these types of crimes.

What categorizes a computer or internet crime? One common aspect of computer crimes involves financial fraud and money laundering schemes. Other financial crimes committed via the internet include credit and debit card fraud, hacking and identity theft.

Computer crimes also involve harassment, spamming, phishing, and sex crimes against children. People who possess child pornography on their home or work computer, and people who distribute child pornography via the internet are in violation of the law. Unfortunately, internet crimes involving children can oftentimes be a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps you were not aware that the images were of minors, or perhaps someone else used your computer. Revealing the truth of what actually happened will be dependent upon the highly investigative tactics of an experienced defense attorney.

Because these crimes typically cross state lines, they are often classified as federal offenses. If you are under investigation for a federal crime, you could have a large government entity assisting your local law enforcement agency. This means that the prosecution will have unlimited manpower and means to pursue a conviction. If you want to effectively protect your legal rights, you are going to need the assistance of a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney on your side. Your lawyer will have a wealth of proven defense tools at their disposal. The last thing you would want to do is hire an inexperienced or apprehensive lawyer when you are fighting to preserve your reputation and your freedom. If you are under investigation for a computer crime, don’t hesitate to contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

The Law Offices of Guy L. Womack & Associates, P.C. is conveniently located in North Houston, Texas. Their firm has been providing their clients with outstanding defense representation for all sorts of federal and state criminal offenses. Whether your case is going to military, state or federal court, they have the knowledge, experience and tools necessary to protect your legal rights. A member from their legal team is prepared to meet with you in person for a free consultation. They would like to provide you with both sound advice and potential defense strategies that may aid in your defense. Their goal is to help their clients obtain the best possible outcome in the charges against them. They will search for any mitigating circumstances that might get the charges against you reduced or dropped entirely. You are urged to contact a Houston federal criminal defense lawyer from their firm at (800) 990-8762 today.

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Representing Yourself in a Criminal Court Case – Don’t Do It

By Carl A Munson Jr -

He who represents himself has a fool for a client.

That old expression is true.

If you’re not a mechanic, would you get under the hood of your car and start taking apart the engine? If you needed an appendectomy, would you do that yourself? Even if you are a surgeon, that is probably still a bad idea. The results would be disastrous. The same goes for representing yourself in court when you are charged with a crime. The results can be, and probably will be disastrous.

In Washington State, when you are charged with a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty you face is ninety days in jail and a one thousand dollar fine. You would also have the conviction on your record for anyone to see, like prospective employers and landlords. Depending on the offense and your criminal history, you may also be placed on probation for up to two years. In addition to the fine that will be imposed, you also have to pay probation fees each month. If you’re on probation for two years, that bill can run up into the thousands of dollars. Oh, and while you’re on probation, you may be ordered to get an evaluation for whatever problem may have contributed to the offense. Guess what; you have to pay for that evaluation too. If the evaluator finds that you have a problem that needs treating, you will have to comply with the treatment recommendation and, yes, you have to pay for the treatment.

All of the probation fees and requirements apply to Gross Misdemeanors too. The difference between a Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor is the maximum penalty. If you are convicted of a Gross Misdemeanor, then the court could impose up to one year in jail and up to a five thousand dollar fine in addition to all of the probation requirements. In Washington, your first Driving While Under the Influence (DUI) is a Gross Misdemeanor. Remember when I said you can receive up to two years of probation for Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor offenses? That is true, except for DUI. In Washington, if you are convicted of DUI, you are placed on probation for five, count ‘em, five years. Did you know that? That really should be something you know if you are thinking of trying to represent yourself in a criminal case.

Something you should also be aware of is that DUI is one of a number of offenses that carries a mandatory minimum sentence. That means if you are found guilty of even a first offense DUI, the court must impose at least one day of jail and mandatory minimum fine along with probation. Depending on whether you took the breath test or not, the breath test reading and whether you have prior DUI convictions determines what minimums you are facing. The minimums can be one day, two days, 30 days, 45 days, or more, in jail and mandatory electronic home monitoring on top of that. The mandatory minimum fines increase also depending on the above criteria. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive. Your privilege to drive will be suspended also. Do you still think you should represent yourself?

If you are convicted of an offense that is considered “domestic violence”, then you are going to have other consequences in addition to everything else I’ve just told you. Specifically, if you are convicted of certain “domestic violence” offenses, you will lose your right to possess a firearm in the State of Washington and federally. Were you going to join the Army or apply to the police academy? Not anymore. You typically need to be able to hold a gun to have those jobs. If you are convicted of a “domestic violence” offense, you don’t get to possess guns. Not until you have a “court of record” restore your right and even then the federal government may still prevent you from owning a gun. Do you know what a “court of record” is? Do you know what you have to do or how long you have to wait to petition the court to restore your right? Your attorney would. Your attorney would also stress to you that if you were to possess a firearm after being convicted of a “domestic violence” offense without having your right restored by a court of record first, you would be committing a felony. Then you’ve just graduated from misdemeanor behavior in your local municipal or district court to felonious behavior in superior court and possible prison time.

Another consequence of being convicted of a “domestic violence” misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor is that you may have a no-contact order issued restricting you from having any contact whatsoever with the victim in the case. That means exactly what it says. If you have a no-contact order against you, you should proceed as if that person does not exist. Do not talk to them, phone, text or email them. Do not send messages to them through a third party. If you do, that is a new criminal charge for violating the order. In Washington, your third violation of a no-contact order is… you guessed it, a felony. If you make the incredibly poor decision to violate the order and then compound your poor decision by assaulting the other person, then you have also committed a felony and it doesn’t even have to be your third violation. Did you know that? Your criminal defense attorney would.

Are you starting to get my drift? Those are just a few possible consequences of being convicted of Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanors! Misdemeanors and Gross Misdemeanors are the least serious class of crimes in Washington and you can see what effect they could have on your life. Are those dice that you want to roll on your own? We haven’t even touched on all of the different aspects of going to court.

You’ll notice I have not been talking about representing yourself on a felony charge in superior court. I will not either. The stakes are higher. That is sure suicide if you try to take on the task of representing yourself against felonies. I have been appointed as “stand by” counsel in a couple of cases where the defendants were charged with very serious felonies. After one simple court hearing, one of my clients realized he was so far over his head, he told the judge he wanted me to take over the case. Smart move. I believe his case resolved much better than if he had tried to do it himself.

The other client waited until the day before his jury trial began and then told the judge he wanted me to step in to handle the trial. He had tried to get his own witnesses lined up and prepare his defense on his own from inside the county jail. Needless to say, I did my very best to try the case (even after his expert witness told me that he actually agreed with the State’s expert). Needless to say, we lost the case. He was convicted of very serious charges and received a maximum sentence of ten years.

Let that be a lesson to all of you. People with no legal training or real knowledge of how the system actually works are in serious danger of messing things up their case beyond repair. Just because a person has been charged with a crime and been to court before does not qualify them to represent themselves.

As you can see, I strongly urge anyone charged with a crime, any crime, to get a lawyer or at least talk with one before making a decision. Ask for a free consultation. Ask for a public defender. Yes, a public defender. Do not try this case on your own. Even if you are a lawyer yourself. Say what you want about lawyers, but lawyers (at least most) are smart enough to know better than trying to represent themselves in a criminal matter. As the defendant, you have the right to remain silent. Let someone else who knows what they’re doing, and saying, do the talking for you.

If you can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney, then please do yourself a favor and do so. Ask anyone you know who has hired a criminal defense attorney for referrals. Research local attorneys online with attorney-referral websites. Try to get a free consultation with more than one attorney. Find out what you can about them. How long have they practiced? How long have they practiced criminal law? How much trial experience do they have? Find someone you feel comfortable with. That will be very important as your case proceeds. If you cannot afford a private attorney, then absolutely apply for a public defender.


People find it fashionable to hack on the public defenders. They refer to them as “public pretenders” and other derogatory names. But you know what? At the very least, they have a law degree. They’ve been to law school and have passed the bar exam. Even with the bare minimum requirements to be a lawyer, they are in a much better position than you are to represent you in court.

People who get convicted of an offense will blame their public defender. Some think, if you don’t walk away scott-free, then you must have been failed by the public defender. As if the public defender actively sought to get you convicted of the offense. They talked you into pleading guilty. Bull. You are the client. You make the final decisions as to what happens with your case. If you don’t want to plead guilty to anything and set it for trial, that is completely up to you. Your public defender (or private attorney for that matter) may advise you that going to trial may be a bad idea depending on the evidence the prosecution has against you. They may also tell you the consequences you face if you decide to turn down whatever plea bargain is on the table and go to trial. The attorney would not be doing their job if they didn’t tell you those things. In fact, they are required to disclose all offers (even the lame ones) to the client. It doesn’t mean they are trying to talk to you into pleading guilty. It means they are doing their jobs and their ethical duties.

Public defenders are historically overloaded with cases. The city or county that pays for the office only has so much money to spend on the public defender’s office. That means they can only hire a limited number of attorneys. All of the cases that are referred to that public defender’s office have to be split up among that limited number of attorneys. The number of cases increase at a faster pace than the number of attorneys. Even if the county or city council approves a budget to add another lawyer, the lawyer is a band aid. And the caseload will continue to grow and swallow up any extra benefit the new attorney added.

Even with that being the case, it is still better than attempting to represent yourself. The reason is that the overworked public defender still has the knowledge, skill and most importantly, the experience practicing in court and handling cases that you do not.

Criminal law is all the public defender practices. They are not part of a general practice law firm that may handle a couple of criminal cases for their civil clients once in a while. All day, every day, the public defender is reading and researching the criminal law. They are writing and arguing motions to suppress evidence and dismiss charges. They are trying criminal cases to the bench (a judge only) and to juries. Even the rookie public defender who has just graduated law school and passed the bar exam is in a better position than you to represent you in court. How you ask? They have resources. The biggest resource a new attorney has is the other attorneys in his or her office. They routinely go to their colleagues or supervisors and run cases by them and ask for advice.

Normally a lawyer might claim law school is a waste of time but one thing law school teaches potential young lawyers is issue spotting. Issue spotting is incredibly important to your case. Would you know if an officer followed the proper procedure in obtaining your confession? Would you know if the officer broke the chain of custody in processing your evidence? Do you know what “chain of custody” means? You may think you could get your statements or evidence suppressed on your own, but you’d probably be wrong. You would find, probably the hard way, that there is more to getting statements and evidence suppressed than just crying “Miranda!” or “Fourth Amendment!”.

Another crucial tool a lawyer learns in law school is how to research the issue you’ve spotted. Do you know where to go to research? Do you know what to look for when you get there? Is there a court rule that controls? Is it a statute you’re looking for? Is it an evidentiary question you’re trying to answer? Is it, God forbid, legislative history of the statute you need? Is it a case interpreting any of the above that you need to find? If you find it, is it still good law? Even a new public defender knows where the local law library is (or which internet site to use) and where to begin looking when they get there.

Let me ask you this? How many cases have you tried to the jury? Hmmmm? What’s that you say? None? You have never stood before a judge, prosecutor and jury and tried a case? Never cross examined a witness against you? Do you even know the mechanics of a trial? That is, do you know what motions, if any, to make before the trial begins? Do you know what those motions are even called? Do you know how to select a jury? What is the purpose of an opening statement? What types of questions are allowed during direct and cross examination of a witness? How do you present an effective closing argument? And you think it is a good idea to learn these things for the first time when you are the one whose future hangs in the balance? If you’ve never performed surgery before, would it be a good idea to start by giving yourself an appendectomy?

As stated above, if you can afford to hire a private attorney, then please do so. However, if you cannot afford a private attorney and do qualify for a public defender, then by all means, accept him or her. Remember you can assist your attorney in your defense. They would appreciate the help. Cooperate with them. The defense may develop much easier and be stronger if you help your attorney and not fight them because they are a public defender.

Public Defender offices are like any other office in any other business. They have some employees who are very, very good, dedicated and work as hard as they can. They also have employees who try hard, but may not be as good. Unfortunately, there are probably some, a very, very small amount, who are not as dedicated and do not work as hard. That is just a fact of life. But, it’s not because those people are public defenders. They would be the same worker if they were prosecutors, private attorneys, doctors, or cab drivers. That is who they are.

But, if you are in the super minority of clients who get that public defender, all hope is not lost. The result may simply be that they are difficult to work with because they don’t return phone calls, etc. As mentioned above, you can assist your attorney in your defense. We know you will be motivated because it your case. So, anything you can do to help the defense, such as gather your witnesses names, phone numbers, etc. and give those to your lawyer. Another way to help is be completely honest with your attorney. Tell your family and friends whatever you want, but you have to give your attorney the true facts as you know them. Fewer things are harder in defending a case than not knowing all of the facts. That doesn’t mean the attorney is going to be revealing any of your information to anyone. They can’t because of the attorney-client privilege. It will help the attorney to know which questions to ask or not ask when examining a witness at trial or when negotiating with the prosecutor.

If you think you can afford an attorney, take advantage of free consultations and discuss your options with a private attorney. Find one you feel comfortable with and hire them.

If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, apply for the public defender. Remember, “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Don’t be a fool.

Carl Munson has been practicing criminal law since 1997. He has been a prosecutor and is currently practicing criminal defense. For more information on this subject or any criminal law related issue, go to

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The Perfect Criminal Defense Attorney

By Alfred Ardis

If you’ve been accused of a crime, you need to take action immediately. You shouldn’t panic, but you should think things through logically and carefully. The first step is to hire a criminal defense attorney. This isn’t some random person you pull out of the phone book but is someone you should take the time to assess and be sure that they are qualified. In order to make sure your representation is solid, there are a few steps you should follow.

The first step in finding a criminal defense attorney is to find someone who concentrates his or her defense practices in the area you need. Most lawyers will be able to represent you on a number of general charges, but in order to have the best chance, you want someone who specializes in the area in which you have been charged. For example, if you’ve been charged with first-degree murder, you will want to find a lawyer who has a high success rate in murder cases and has represented a lot of clients facing murder charges. This means they know what they are doing, and that will be a big relief.

The next thing you will have to decide is whether or not you want a public defense attorney or if you want to hire a private criminal defense attorney instead. The primary benefit of public lawyers is that they are usually much cheaper than someone whose practice is private. You can save yourself some money to be sure, but you might also be sacrificing quality. Private lawyers tend to try and juggle nearly two hundred cases at a time, a number far above the limit set by the Bar Association. They do this for a number of reasons but what it means for you is that your case won’t get nearly the attention it deserves. With a private lawyer, your case will receive more attention and your chances will greatly increase. You should think carefully about the amount of money you can afford to spend and whether or not you can really afford to choose a lesser quality lawyer. Public lawyers mean well, but they simply spread themselves too thin much of the time.

After you’ve decided what type of criminal defense attorney you want, you need to think about what is important to you in terms of qualities. Do you want a young lawyer who lacks experience but will work hard to be sure and win the case? Would you prefer someone with a lot of years under their belt and a lot of experience in your type of case? You should also think about whether or not you need someone with experience in specific areas of law. After you’ve done this, one of the final steps is to check out their credentials. Make sure that they are whom they say they are and that they are qualified. If you’re going with a younger lawyer, be sure that he or she is licensed and certified. This is a high priority, so that you will know you are getting the best representation possible.

Whatever your reason for needing a criminal defense attorney, you can find one easily enough if you do your research. Just be sure that you are getting a lawyer who will put your defense first, and you will be set to go.

For the criminal defense attorney St. Petersburg�locals trust to represent them with dedication and the utmost professionalism, visit� today.

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What Are the Different Types of Criminal Law Cases?

By Frank Schumacher -

Criminal law covers all offenses by an individual against the State. A crime is always against the State, and when a criminal is punished, it is a retribution for the State. There are several types of criminal law cases that are tried in the courts. These crimes are generally categorized into General Offenses, DUI/Traffic Offenses, Sex Offenses, White Collar Crimes, and other miscellaneous offenses that can be tried in courts.

General offenses include aggravated assault, kidnapping, manslaughter, robbery, murder, embezzlement, false statements, perjury, resisting arrest, theft, among other crimes that fall under general offenses. Crimes that fall under traffic/DUI are drag racing, aggravated driving, aggravated DUI, driving on suspended license, endangerment, reckless driving, extreme DUI, and misdemeanor DUI among others.

Sex offenses are those committed against the chastity of the person. Whether you are a man or a woman, so long as you were offended in some way in relation to your person, pertaining to your gender, the act itself can still be considered as a sex offense. This includes sex abuse, molestation of a child, sex assault, public sexual indecency, computer crimes, failure to register as a sex offender, and public misconduct with a minor.

White collar crimes are those that are considered as environmental crimes, fraudulent schemes, extortion, money laundering, professional licensing issues, regulatory crimes, and racketeering.

Even with the diversity of crimes that are adjudicated daily, once you are charged with any of these crimes, or you happen to be a victim, you should seek out the counsel of a good lawyer to defend you and your rights in the proper court of law. While it is true that anyone can file a criminal case in the courts, it is imperative for you to seek the advice of a good criminal lawyer. If you were the victim, and you happen to find yourself terribly abused, you always have the option to seek redress in court. And, if you are the one arrested because of a criminal charge, you are also entitled to equal protection by the court since you are still presumed innocent until the court has convicted you of the crime being charged.

Crimes against the person per se, such as murder, vehicular manslaughter, assault, and rape usually involve a greater degree of punishment since life was directly inflicted upon. Although in rape, depending on the circumstances, life may have not been taken but the injury caused is always for a lifetime. More often, these cases capture the public interest than petty crimes such as shoplifting or drug possession. On the other hand, robbery, perjury, and computer crimes are adjudged based on the degree of damage that the criminals have caused either against the person or the property.

If you happen to be in trouble with the law or you need a decent representation to obtain some retribution for a crime done to you or a family member, it is the best move to solicit the help of a reputable Arizona criminal law lawyer. Even if you already feel tired fighting, a good Phoenix criminal law lawyer would always be willing to help you out. These lawyers are always there to stand for the rights of the person who needs them.

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