About 10 million Americans are criminally charged and arrested each year.
Criminal charges not only punish wrongdoers, but they also affect innocent people. In many cases, a criminal charge is the beginning of a long and stressful process with the justice system.
So what is a criminal charge? What should you do if you get charged with a crime? This guide has all the answers you need.
Read on to learn more about criminal charges.
What Is a Criminal Charge?
A criminal charge is when someone gets accused of committing a crime by the government. Once someone is charged, they will receive a charging document that outlines what the crime is and what the appropriate course of action is.
Charging documents come in several forms that governmental authorities use in different cases. For example, a traffic ticket is a charging document only used in traffic incidents. An indictment, citation, and information are also common charging documents.
Being Charged vs Convicted
Many people have the misconception that being charged with a crime means a person is guilty. However, a criminal charge simply means that a governmental authority believes one has committed a crime, but they’re technically innocent until proven guilty.
A criminal charge is essentially an allegation. When you’re charged with a crime but not convicted, you’re innocent unless told otherwise.
A conviction is when the court finds one guilty of a crime. A conviction can also occur when one pleads guilty, which prevents a case from going to trial.
When a person is convicted, a judge will give them a sentence. The sentence can vary depending on what the judge thinks is appropriate for the crime.
How to Seek Legal Help
If you face criminal or civil charges, seeking legal help immediately is the best thing you can do.
You can seek legal help by hiring criminal defense lawyers. These lawyers specialize in all types of criminal charges, so they can evaluate your case and provide appropriate advice.
Before hiring a lawyer, you should search for several online. When doing so, compare the services that different firms and lawyers offer. If you find someone that specializes in your type of charge, contact them to learn more about their services.
Not only will a lawyer help you protect yourself, but they’ll also answer any questions you have about your case. The more you understand the crime charges, the easier it’ll be to handle.
Don’t Panic If You Get Charged for a Crime
After reading this article, you no longer need to ask: “What is a criminal charge?”
Now that you know a criminal charge isn’t a conviction, we encourage you not to panic if you get charged for something. While the situation may be stressful, it’s best to seek advice from a lawyer to help you move forward.
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