Slap On The Wrist
The first thought that enters everyone’s mind upon being arrested is “OMG, I’m going to jail, I need a lawyer!” Rubbing shoulders with hardened, seasoned criminals. Having to do with defective, ill-prepared food. It’s all pretty scary. And as you come to terms with the reality of your incarceration, it dawns on you that you’re not as ‘macho’ as you thought, and this time, you could be facing jail-time. However, the classification of crimes into two distinct categories -felony & misdemeanor cases- must come as a source of relief, albeit temporarily.
The Need For A Reasoned Criminal Justice System
From the earliest days of civilization, criminal sanctions for conduct deemed unlawful by society have been meted out for thousands of years, but not without good reason. A fundamental principle of criminal law is that every punishment must be proportional to the harm inflicted on the victim, having due regard to its impact on the community. When a distinction is drawn between misdemeanors and felonies, the law is trying to strike the same balance as the customs of the past. As such, misdemeanors are slight, less serious offenses than felonies, which warrant more severe punishment owing to their seriousness. So, for example, you can’t be sent to jail for a period longer than 6 months on a misdemeanor, however, you can on a felony, which carries a maximum prison term of up to 10 years.
Misdemeanors: Missing Death By A Whisker
You could call it that, ‘Missing death by a whisker!’ because hate it or love it, that’s exactly what it is. Typical misdemeanors include:
* Common assault
* Unruly behavior
* Reckless driving
* Discharging a firearm in a public place where no one is injured.
* Petty theft
* Possession of marijuana
The list is endless when you throw in other ‘slap on the wrist’ petty offenses like jaywalking and public nuisance. So, once you have been charged and due to appear for your trial, there are a number of things you should know. First, a misdemeanor will in all probability lead to probation, a short jail term -as opposed to regular prison- community service and the withdrawal of certain privileges. In the latter case, a presiding officer has significant discretion and may order the suspension of a drivers license or impose a fine not exceeding $1.000. Despite the law being clear on the dividing line between felonies and misdemeanors, there’s one thing a lot of people take for granted, and that’s repeat offenses. Committing a repeat misdemeanor counts as a serious offense and normally results in the imposition of a felony penalty.
Felons: The Real Criminals
Perpetrators of felony crimes are deemed, serious offenders. A felony is an offense punishable by imprisonment in excess of a year. In jurisdictions where the death penalty is applicable, capital punishment is the most severe punishment. Notable felonies include:
* Murder (attempt, conspiracy)
* Aggravated assault
* Tax evasion
* Culpable homicide
* Sexual assault
It is clear from the aforementioned that felonies can occur without the use of violence, as is the case with fraud and tax evasion. Here, the suitability of punishment is determined according to the impact it has on the community. Whatever the case may be, rest assured that Delaware lawyers with sound experience in criminal litigation will be there to assist you.
Securing the Attendance Of the Accused At The Trial: Bail and Arrest
Common sense dictates that a person detained on charges of committing a misdemeanor will not require bail as a warning to appear will suffice. In the same breath, the seriousness of a felony such as murder will require release on bail or a warrant of arrest in order to secure the attendance of the accused at the impending trial. With a misdemeanor, a written summons to appear will be sufficient without the drastic necessity of arrest.
Lawyers Are Liars! Are They Now?
The law is a tricky thing. What appears straightforward to you may be complicated in practice. Which is why having a criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between you performing community service or spending the rest of your life behind bars. And if money is a problem, pro bono attorneys will be provided at state expense to people who cannot afford legal representation.