Sunday, October 17, 2010

Navigating Through the Criminal Process

Comprehending the basics about the criminal justice system in Washington is probably one of the most important ways for you to protect your rights.

Criminal laws involve prosecution by the state or a city, of a person for an action that has been deemed as a crime. Civil cases, on the other hand, include people and businesses attempting to solve legal conflicts. In a criminal legal matter, the government, by means of a prosecutor, initiates the filing of criminal charges, while in a civil case the victim brings the lawsuit. Men and women convicted of a criminal offense may be incarcerated, ticketed, or both along with numerous other sanctions. However, people found liable in a civil action may only have to hand over property or pay damages, but are not incarcerated. This is why it becomes imperative for one to retain an experienced Seattle Criminal Attorney to help navigate through the process.

A "crime" is any act or failure to act that offends or disturbs a public law forbidding or commanding it. Although there are various common law criminal offenses, many crimes in Washington State are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws differ substantially from state to state. A Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys will be able to fight for one's rights and ensure that you are well protected.

A criminal offense in Washington State include both felony offenses and misdemeanors. Felonies are commonly offenses punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are violations punishable by less than a year. However, no action is a crime if it has not been previously set as such either by statute or common law.

All statutes explaining criminal behavior can be divided into their different elements. Most offenses (with the exception of strict-liability crimes) contain two elements: an act, or "actus reus," and a mental state, or "mens rea". Prosecutors in Washington must prove each and every element of the crime to generate a conviction. Moreover, the prosecutor has to persuade the jury or judge "beyond a reasonable doubt" of every fact required to constitute the crime charged. In civil cases, the plaintiff must show a defendant is responsible only by a "preponderance of the evidence," or more than 50%. Contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys to assist in fighting for your rights!

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