How Does Social Media Impact Criminal Defense Law?

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Social media has gained a lot of recognition in nearly all spheres of life. Right from individuals to businesses and institutions, it is a craze for communicating and making various transactions. Amazingly, there is also a complex relationship between social media and criminal law. While it has helped law enforcement persons and agencies to curb crime, social media sites have also screwed up people’s freedom. Consider the following circumstances and which the subject will either make or destroy you.

Sexual assault

There is an increase in sexual assault cases reported in law courts and it is such a pity that they have multiplied with the advent of social media which was rather thought to be liberating. Age has been a problem in all social media websites. While online dating has helped people find love and lasting relationships, it has put a number of them behind bars too. Men especially, have fallen victims by finding themselves entangled in a love affair with under-age children. People just make acquaintances on social media and before you know it, you meet and start dating. Sadly, it turns out that one of the victims is an under-age and it suddenly becomes an assault case.

Social media evidence

Courts have now embraced social media as a source of evidence and law enforcement officers are really finding it cheap to nub unknowing citizens. People often post a lot of content on social media sites, content that is even rather too personal and it ends up incriminating them. Consider a case whereby someone has posted images identifying him or her with a criminal gang through the weapons that are shown on social media. In case this particular person is taken to court as a terror suspect, it will only take a few distrustful friends to release the photographs and have the victim charged with a terror offense.

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is greatly praised in the social media because people are seeking acceptance and they desire to be identified with certain social groups. Even when people know that it is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol, they forget and post their photographs on social media sites without the knowledge that law enforcement officers could easily pop in and take it up as evidence. In case of an accident, people find it hard to defend themselves when there is solid evidence on their social sites indicating that they were driving under the influence of alcohol.

Identity theft

Criminals are taking up people’s profiles and personal details to execute various crimes and then cover themselves up. In this case, both criminals and innocent people have been charged with various crimes. There are people who will steal identity and use it in bank robberies and other forms of crime and they actually get away with it. This lands the innocent person in trouble as he or she struggles to explain how his or her identity credentials were found at a crime scene. Some misleading links posted on social sites have deceived users to accessing classified material and they end up in the dock for trespassing and accessing things such as military secrets.

In general, there is a very complex relationship between social media and criminal law. While some attorneys are specializing in social media crimes to offer the most upbeat legal representation, law enforcement officers are also going technological by milking evidence from all sources.

Hiring The Best Lawyer For You

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What To Look For When Finding the Best Attorney

A guide to hiring a lawyer can be useful for people when they need to find a reliable attorney that they can trust. Looking for a lawyer is not very different than doing other activities that involve shopping around for finding the best option. There are different sources for helping you find the right expert in law matters for your particular case and also, different things to consider.

What Type of Lawyer Do You Need?

The first determining factor in your search is knowing what type of attorney you require, depending on your own case: criminal law or a civil case. Examples of civil cases can be: a dispute with your neighbors, a divorce, or defending your rights at your workplace. For criminal cases in Michigan, you can end up in jail if you don’t have a good Michigan criminal defense attorney familiar with the local area and laws.  For further assistance, visit this criminal defense page at http://theclarklawoffice.com/criminal-defense-attorneys/

Why You Need a Lawyer?

You may need an expert in any situation that involves you, your family, or your business, because you have to get out from the situation in the best way possible. If you would do everything on your own, it would be really hard to achieve your goals and the chances of solving the situation would be minimal. A lawyer knows all the details that are necessary for solving a case and he/she can prepare all the papers and the evidence to support you in court. You usually need the help of a professional when you are sued for something, or accused of something.

Checking the Lawyer’s Background

You can use different sources for finding good attorneys. Asking family, friends and co-workers can be a good method, but you could also check the yellow pages, the newspapers, or the Internet. After making a list of the professionals that you found, do some background checking on each of them. The aspects that matter the most are reputation, experience and insurance. Calling the lawyers or meeting them in person can help you find more valuable information about them.

Always check for the existence of malpractice insurance, because it very important. Any lawyer can make mistakes. Therefore, if one attorney has no malpractice insurance and declares that there are no mistakes in his/her past, it means something is wrong there. Avoid those who are making such claims. Another example of a dull attorney can be of one twho seems to spend more time in court than dealing with clients.

How Do you Pay?

The costs can be different for the same type of services offered by different individuals. If you don’t want to have surprises and to be billed for unexpected things, always ask for a written version of the prices offered by a lawyer. Normally, a professional works on a contingency, but there could be additional fees involved sometimes. The contingency agreement can be modified on the request of the client. The attorney can put pressure on you for a settlement, but never forget that you are the one who makes the settlement.

Establishing a Meeting

Once you decide to meet an attorney in person, you must know how to deal with something that can happen often: the lawyer could be more interested in a particular portion of your case. This is a very common thing among lawyers and the main reason is that the professional is more familiar with that specific side of things that he/she seems so interested in. Never forget that you are the one in charge of the situation, because you pay. Do not let yourself intimidated during a meeting.

Comparing Felony Charges Vs. Misdemeanor Charges

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There has always been a great misunderstanding of these two crimes by people who are not experts in the field of law. The main difference between felony vs misdemeanor is the severity of the crimes in each and the severity of the punishment received by offenders of each.

Felony Charges

A person who has committed a felony is eligible for imprisonment. The jail term is usually more than a year. The length of the sentence usually depends on the crime committed. Some more serious felonies lead to death penalty sentences. The jail term issued on such an offender is served in a state prison or federal prison. With felonies, a grand jury is needed in order for a felony case to be charged. A simple written complaint is not enough due to the seriousness of the charges.

An attorney is undeniably necessary for felony cases. In the event that one can not afford the services of a personal attorney, the court appoints a lawyer for the offender. More often than not, felonies are not eligible for expungement. The seriousness of the charges and convictions make it hard for the record to be sealed. Expungement only happens in a few cases where the case in question has a few loop holes or wobbly points. In the event that a person is convicted of a felony, their rights tend to be more restricted. These may include: denial of the right to vote, denial of the right to possess guns under any circumstance, professional restrictions such as not being able to become teachers or lawyers and prohibition from serving in the military.

In simple terms, a felony can be called a serious crime. Felony crimes include:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Drug trafficking
  • White collar crimes such as fraud
  • Assault of a government worker such as police and social workers

Misdemeanor Charges

A misdemeanor is often referred to as a criminal act of less serious nature.

The punishment issued on a misdemeanor is in form of fines, probation, community services, or a short jail term of less than one year. In case of a jail sentence, the jail term is served in a local, county or city prison. A written complaint is required in order to charge a misdemeanor and as such, a grand jury is not required. In case an offender can not afford the services of a private attorney, the court does not provide one. Also, if one needs a jury, they will pay for it. A misdemeanor criminal record has simple restrictions on one’s rights such as limited movement out of their state until probation time is over. Expungement of a misdemeanor is possible if the particular crime is eligible for such.

In some states, crimes; misdemeanors to be specific, are measured in the number of times one commits them. These occurrences are called strikes. The third strike of a misdemeanor is usually termed as a felony and felony punishment may be imposed on the particular offender. Misdemeanor crimes include:

  • Vandalism of property
  • Prostitution
  • Simple assault on another person
  • Petty theft such as shoplifting

 

The Basics Of Expungment

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A criminal record could be a great hindrance of opportunities in life. It can lead to the denial of certain privileges due to the criminal tag. As such, the legal industry made it possible for people to be able to clear or seal their criminal records. Note that this only applies to some allowed cases since not all of them can be written off.

How to get expungement

For starters, one should know whether their type of crime is eligible for expungement. Not all crimes can be expunged due to legal constrains. Most jurisdictions tend to allow expungement of arrests and misdemeanor convictions but not felony convictions. One can then proceed to either get an attorney to represent them or opt for personal representation. Court processes can be extremely confusing due to what the legal environment entails and as such, getting a lawyer will lessen the burden of having to understand all these processes. Choosing to represent yourself is much more affordable but demanding since the burden of court processes is on you. The court staff may give a few pointers on filling the necessary forms and requirements but they don’t offer legal advice.

One is required to fill out forms that inform the court about the crime one committed. A filing fee is paid to the court in order for the petition to be filed. The case filed should go ahead to prove to the judge that the criminal record is causing certain damages such as denial of a job opportunity, housing space or professional license. One should also prove that expungement will not affect public safety negatively and that one has efficiently rehabilitated themselves.

Outcome

When one files an expungement petition, the court will either approve or reject their eligibility. When the case file is approved, one is often required to appear in court at a set date. However, in some instances, the court allows the plaintiff not to appear for the court process. The possible end result of the court process is rejection of the petition if the judge is not convinced about the need for it or approval of expungement. Approval of the petition means that one’s record will be sealed. A sealed record means that it is invisible to the public. In some instances, a certificate of innocence is offered.  A certificate of innocence means the court is convinced that the criminal record should not be in existence. This certificate is the most powerful tool of expungement as it does more than just seal the record. Petitions that receive such certificates include cases that ended in the plaintiff being not guilty. Also, cases whose charges were dropped are eligible for such.

When one files for expungement, they should go through the process knowing that the outcome is 50-50. No lawyer can assure one of 100% expungement due to the difference in cases. Also, when one is considering this process, they should check their state’s laws in order to know about the whole process. Lawyers don’t come cheap; but one may be granted a lawyer if they are eligible for such a service owing to their low income. Expungement definitely rescues some situations.