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What Is Criminal Liability? Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain

What Is Criminal Liability? Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain

Criminal liability means that you are legally responsible for a crime. When this happens, the point of view shifts. You are now “the defendant” and must prove that you did not commit the crime. Criminal defense lawyers are necessary when you have been charged with a crime. 

This is important because the sooner an attorney is involved, the more they can help you to avoid or limit any severe consequences that may arise. They can help fight the charges, mitigate your punishment and work to keep your criminal record clean.

At The Law Office of Annie Scott, our experienced Sugar Land criminal defense attorney will work with you to build a strong defense for your criminal case.

What is criminal liability?

Criminal liability refers to the guilt for a crime as well as the punishment imposed by society for the offense because crimes cause damage to the community as a whole. Together with the victim(s), a government lawyer (prosecutor) pursues charges against the criminal on behalf of the people.

A person may be found guilty of a crime if the prosecution establishes that the individual performed the illegal conduct (such as stealing) and had the necessary intent to hold the person responsible (such as intent to deprive the owner of the property).

Criminal vs. Civil law

  1. Concepts

At the municipal, state and federal levels, criminal laws define criminal actions and provide legal penalties for persons guilty of crimes such as arson, assault, and theft. Criminal law matters are exclusively heard in criminal courts.

On the other hand, civil law deals with people’s privacy rights. Civil laws are used when an individual’s rights have been infringed or disagreements with other people or organizations. Some civil law disputes are resolved outside of a court of law, such as a third-party mediator. Alternatively, cases may be settled via a non-criminal trial.

  1. Burden of Proof

Criminal and civil courts have distinct requirements. In a criminal case, a defendant is either acquitted or found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the job of the state or federal government to establish that the defendant unquestionably committed the crime.

In a civil court, a plaintiff files a lawsuit against a defendant. The plaintiff has the burden of evidence and must demonstrate that the defendant is more likely than not to blame the situation. If a jury concludes that a defendant was accountable, that defendant is considered liable rather than guilty.

  1. Penalties

In a criminal case, a judge condemns a defendant found guilty of the charges. The judge must adhere to the sentencing parameters provided by existing criminal law. The judge has considerable leeway within the sentencing guidelines. The legal consequences may include jail, probation, and fines in a criminal case.

In a civil case, a defendant who is found guilty for any act of wrongdoing may be compelled by the jury to pay damages (financial compensation) to the plaintiff. Balance may be paid for both quantitative losses like medical costs and subjective losses such as pain and suffering. A jury may sometimes award punitive damages.

What determines criminal liability?

Criminal responsibility is based on two elements: the actus reus (the actual act or omission that broke the law) and the mens rea (the guilty state of mind, the intention to commit).

In simple terms, this implies the prosecution must establish not only that you did the crime but that you planned to do so. The exception is when “strict liability” is used, which means you may be held guilty for the crime regardless of your intentions. 

For example, you may be convicted of supplying alcohol to a child whether or not you knew their age.

Possible penalties

Convicted offenders may face imprisonment or prison term, a fine or both. Felony charges are usually penalized by a year or less in imprisonment. A sentencing court may also mandate drug or alcohol treatment, anger management, other therapy, and/or probation for a guilty defendant (such as drug testing).

Depending on the offence, a convicted sex offender may be compelled to register as a sex offender and to remain away from schools, playgrounds, and other institutions with children.

As a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney, we know that you did not intend to break the law. However, we also understand that sometimes things happen, and a crime occurs. As soon as you or someone you know has been arrested, call the Law Office of Annie Scott right away.

We can help you get your life back!

Dealing with criminal charges? Our Sugar Land & Katy criminal defense attorney can resolve your legal problems and bring peace back into your life.

How criminal defense lawyers can help

  1. Examining your charges.

A criminal defense attorney will examine the case by interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports and other papers, and examining evidence. 

While the police investigation aims to gather evidence against you, your defense attorney’s inquiry has a different goal. Your lawyer will look for evidentiary gaps, contradictions, and other irregularities that may raise reasonable doubt.

  1. Examining officers’ behavior

Did the cops’ actions during your arrest and/or evidence collecting violate your constitutional rights? If so, your lawyer may file a motion asking the court to “suppress” or throw out the illegally acquired evidence before trial.

  1. Between you and the state

A criminal case’s laws and processes are complex. It is hard to know all of your rights or when they are infringed without legal training. Your lawyer can help you establish your rights and fight a determined prosecution.

  1. Creating a defense hypothesis.

Was it self-defense? Do you have an alibi? Are the allegations based on questionable eyewitness testimony? If so, does the prosecution lack sufficient evidence to establish your claims “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Depending on the case, your lawyer may help you put up a coherent defense.

  1. Trial representation.

Your lawyer will represent you in court, helping to pick the jury, objecting to false evidence and testimony, cross-examining prosecution witnesses, and presenting your case to the jury.

  1. Making significant judgments as a criminal defendant requires.

Which is better, a plea deal or a trial? Should you testify? A skilled criminal defense lawyer can assist you with the various strategic choices you need to make as your case moves through the criminal justice system.

Always, always, always get a second opinion!

This is the best thing that you can do to protect your rights. You are innocent until proven guilty, and you have the right to know the other side of your case before making any judgments on how to proceed. Let Annie Scott provide that voice of reason for you.

She has years of criminal defense experience in Texas under her belt. Yes, Annie Scott is more than capable of helping you with your criminal defense, so call our law firm today for an initial consultation about your case.

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