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Your Questions Answered by Mastro, Barnes, & Stazzone P.C.

Criminal law is a complex and important matter. The law firm of Mastro, Barnes, & Stazzone P.C. in Denver, CO has provided the answers to your most common questions about criminal law. The average person might not know a lot about criminal law, but that’s ok. Our experienced attorneys are here for you every step of the way, and we want you to be educated about the process. Take a few minutes to learn more about criminal law, and contact our team to schedule your free initial consultation.

What is Criminal Law?

Criminal law is defined as the body of law related to crime. Criminal conduct is perceived as threatening, harmful, or endangering to someone’s property, health, safety, or moral welfare. Some examples of criminal law include murder, theft, assault, and drunken driving. The two types of criminal laws are misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are lower-level offenses such as minor assault, petty theft, and traffic offenses. Felonies are more serious in nature and include murder, arson, burglary, and more.

What is Substantive Criminal Law?

Substantive criminal law deals with the substance of the crime. It consists of the elements defining the crime as well as the punishment for that crime. Each state and jurisdiction have different elements, and our attorneys are well versed in substantive criminal law in Colorado. Substantive criminal law has to do with the facts of the case and how they are handled, as well as how the crime will be charged.

How Does Criminal Law Differ from Civil Law?

You may be wondering about the differences between civil law vs. criminal law. Civil law relates to disputes between individuals or organizations. As a result of the dispute, compensation is awarded to the victim. Criminal law has to do with the body of law that deals with crimes and the legal punishment of those criminal offenses. Criminal law and civil law are two different branches of the legal system. Criminal cases involve misdemeanors or felonies, while civil cases involve small claims, property damage, or personal injury.

Do I Have to Be Read My Miranda Rights by the Police?

You must be read your Miranda warnings by the police before they interrogate you in custody. The definition of being in custody means a reasonable person would conclude they were not free to leave. Statements you volunteer while in custody can be used against you even if you are not read your Miranda warnings. The police do not have to use certain words as long as they convey the essence of the Miranda rights. They can also give Miranda warnings midway through an interrogation.

How Do Search and Seize Rules Work?

Search and seizure rules apply when law enforcement conducts a search invading your legitimate expectation of privacy. That expectation of privacy must be objectively reasonable, given the circumstances. The search and seizure procedure is used in civil and common law legal systems. If police or other authorities suspect a crime has been committed, they can commence a search of your property and then confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.

How Does a Search Warrant Work?

A search warrant is a document allowing the police to conduct a search. The search warrant must be signed by a judge and allows a search in a certain place and for certain items. Probable cause must be established. If a search is conducted without a warrant, it will be considered unreasonable unless the police are able to show an exception to the requirement was justified. The search must stay inside the scope of the warrant, including the locations searched or the items searched for. Exceptions to search without a warrant include valid consent by an occupant, evidence in plain view, and emergencies requiring prompt action.

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is a specific type of warrant. It’s issued by a judge in the case of a defendant failing to show up in court when required, or if they violate the rules of the court. A bench warrant can function as an arrest warrant, and the defendant can be seized and brought back to court. A judge starts the process of a bench warrant, and not a police officer

What is a Bail Hearing?

A bail hearing is an appearance in state court. During this hearing, the defendant can ask the judge for a lower amount of bail. They can also ask to be released on their own recognizance without paying any bail. The prosecution is also allowed to ask the judge to increase the amount of bail or present an argument that the amount should not be reduced. This hearing does not weigh the defendant’s guilt or innocence. It is based on the probability of the defendant appearing in court when required.

Is an Acquittal the Same as a Not Guilty Verdict?

The reality is that there is not a meaning difference between a not guilty verdict and an acquittal. An acquittal occurs at trial when the judge or jury determines the defendant is not guilty due to the prosecution failing to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge or jury might issue a partial acquittal when they find the defendant guilty of some but not all charges. Other ways to get an acquittal include the prosecution having insufficient evidence. The prosecution can appeal the judgment, but they cannot appeal a not guilty verdict from a jury.

How Long Will a Criminal Case Take?

The amount of time a needed to complete a criminal case varies based on a number of factors. The main factor is the complexity of the case. A simple misdemeanor could be resolved in just a few weeks or a month, but a felony case could take several months or even a year. The case will usually end much sooner if the prosecution makes a reasonable plea offer early in the process, and the case does not go to trial.

What is Criminal Negligence?

Criminal negligence is a state of mind that’s often equated with recklessness. Negligence is a mental state considered to be lower than intent or knowledge. The word negligence is used in the criminal context, while recklessness is used in the civil context. Both of these states arise when the defendant disregards a substantial risk of harm. Criminal negligence involves the failure to account for a substantial risk that the defendant should have been aware of.

What is Premeditated Conduct?

Premeditated conduct is usually associated with a first-degree murder charge. Premeditation has to do with thinking about an act before that act is committed. Deliberation is also considered, and involves thinking about an act’s consequences and then making the decision to commit the said act. Premeditated conduct excludes situations where a crime is committed in the heat of passion. There is no specific time requirement to establish premeditation or deliberation.

What are the Elements of a Crime?

The elements of a crime are specific points that the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge or jury must acquit the defendant if they determine that the prosecution has not proved an element beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of a crime include a criminal act, criminal intent, concurrence, causation, harm, and attendant circumstances.

When Can I Use Self-Defense?

There are certain situations where self-defense is considered necessary. If you are defending someone else, you can be defended by what’s called the defense of others. This defense can be used when there’s a reasonable belief that someone else is in imminent danger of harm. The force used must be reasonable and proportionate. This is most often used with family members. You might also be able to use self-defense even if you started a fight.

Why Should I Hire Mastro, Barnes, & Stazzone P.C.?

Criminal law can be complicated, but it won’t be when you hire the experienced law firm of Mastro, Barnes, & Stazzone P.C. As a powerful, trial-oriented criminal defense law firm in Denver, CO, we’ve been defending criminal and DUI cases for over 35 years. When you hire us, you’ll rest easy knowing our highly-skilled, aggressive, and successful lawyers are fighting for you. We’ll represent you with confidence and know-how and we get results. In fact, we won’t settle for anything less. When you’re ready to work with the best legal representation in Denver, contact our team to request your free consultation.

Call Today to Obtain the Legal Representation You Deserve!