Criminal law involves crimes. A felony is a serious crime, such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, arson, burglary, or assault with a weapon. Lesser crimes are misdemeanors. Traffic violations or violations of local ordinances are not crimes. An attempt to commit a crime is itself a crime. An accessory (one who aids in a crime though not present when it is committed) is guilty of a crime. A good criminal attorney is mostly needed to handle criminal cases.
An insane person cannot commit a crime. Insane means “unable to understand the nature of his act or unable to know right from wrong.” Drunkenness or voluntary use of drugs is not insanity and is not a defense to crime; but a person whose mind is affected by drugs prescribed as medicine may be excused. Children under the age set by state law (usually 15 to 16) cannot commit a crime (juvenile delinquency is not a crime). Young people over the age may be treated as “youthful offenders” and their crime later expunged from the record if not repeated.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense, but ignorance of the fact may be. For example, a person may take another’s property believing it to be his own. If a person reasonably believes himself to be in danger of death or bodily harm, he may use force and even kill another person in self-defense.
Anyone charged with a crime has the right to remain silent. He has the right to a lawyer and a speedy trial before a jury. He has the right to confront and cross-examine his accusers, and he is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Even if convicted, he may not be subjected to “cruel or unusual punishment.”
When arrested, there are two basic things that an individual can do and one of that, and probably the most important, is to get a good lawyer. An individual can always make a bold statement with a good criminal lawyer. It is best to seek out the best lawyer in the state to get the best results.