Breaking the law may result in severe punishments if found guilty of criminal charges, including violent crimes, white-collar crimes, and drug crimes. Penalties may include a permanent criminal record, illegibility to receive government assistance, inability to attain specific jobs, and ultimately, prison time. Understanding your legal rights when accused of serious criminal charges is essential.
In a violent crime, violence is used to threaten or harm the victim. Common violent crimes include murder, assault, robbery, rape, and sexual assault. Accused individuals are punishable by a prison sentence and possible severe fines. Like all other criminal offenses, the accused must be tried in court to be proven guilty. If found innocent, the accused is dismissed from all charges.
White-collar crimes primarily involve financial crimes, which include:
- Tax evasion
- Fraud and embezzlement
- Insider trading
- Insurance fraud
- Pyramid schemes
White-collar crimes are often committed by government officials and businesses for financial gain.
Manufacturing, possessing, trafficking, and distributing certain illicit drugs can result in dire consequences. In some cases, an accused may be dismissed of charges, particularly for possession. In the case of marijuana possession, an accused can claim several defenses, including illness-related use, possession under coercion, or claiming the drugs belong to someone else. Unlawful search and missing evidence can also result in dropped charges.
What you should expect from a police encounter
During a police encounter, it is essential to know what you might experience during this interaction. There are three main categories of police encounters:
- Consensual encounter: A law enforcement officer approaches an individual and begins a conversation. During this encounter, there is no application of force or police commands. This type of encounter does not mean a crime has occurred, and you have free will to leave.
- Investigatory stop: When a police officer restrains you from leaving while asking questions, the consensual encounter becomes an investigatory stop. At this point, you must identify yourself, and you do not have the right to walk away.
- Arrest: After an investigatory stop, an arrest by a police officer may occur if the law enforcement officer has probable cause that an offense has been committed.