Criminal Defense: General Practice Definition
In criminal law, the non-white-collar practice area spans a vast range of matters, and the need for individuals facing the threat of criminal prosecution to secure experienced counsel is great. By contrast to white-collar offenses such as tax violations, bribery, mail fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and the like, which comprise a relatively small percentage of the total number of criminal charges brought each year, non-white-collar criminal charges are those most-typically faced by individuals seeking to retain criminal counsel.
Non-white-collar offenses include felonies, also termed indictable criminal offenses in some states. Included in this category are homicides (ranging from intentional murder to reckless manslaughter and death-by-auto), assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses, robbery, bias crimes, arson, other property crimes, criminal mischief, burglary, theft, forgery, drug offenses, gambling, perjury, firearms violations, and other weapons offenses. Family-related offenses, such as endangering the welfare of a minor and domestic violence, also fall within this group.
The offenses listed above carry the possibility of incarceration, sometimes substantial, mandatory, and subject to significant parole ineligibility, upon conviction. Thus, it is critical that a person facing consequences of such magnitude retain an attorney who is qualified and experienced. On many occasions, seasoned attorneys, through effective early representation, can set the groundwork for positive results or secure a favorable early resolution. A person charged with this type of crime needs an advocate capable of formidably opposing the substantial resources typically available to law enforcement and prosecutors. On some occasions, these matters must be tried by a jury, making it essential that an individual retain a skilled trial attorney.
In addition to more serious matters, non-white-collar criminal offenses also include misdemeanors, known in some states as disorderly persons offenses. These are the types of offenses that most people face when they come into contact with the criminal justice system. They include minor assaults, theft, shoplifting, drug possession, disorderly conduct, harassment, alcohol-related offenses, and many other offenses. These matters, for the most part, are presented in municipal courts or district courts, where a judge hears the case without a jury.
Non-white-collar criminal offenses also include drunken driving and a host of traffic-related offenses, some carrying substantial penalties and the possibility of incarceration. In some states, drunk driving has been elevated to the status of a felony or indictable offense, carrying far greater potential penalties. Again, it is crucial that an individual facing this type of allegation retain a competent, experienced attorney.
To those facing criminal charges, the choice of counsel can make all the difference. A lawyer, as vital advocate for the accused, conducts early investigation, identifies applicable defenses, analyzes strengths and weaknesses, prepares legal applications, also called motions, negotiates with prosecuting authorities, and zealously defends an accused before a jury. Additionally, a lawyer involved early in the case can expedite the client’s release on bail, allowing the client to assist in preparing the defense.
In the end, for those charged with non-white-collar crimes and offenses, the proper selection of counsel is pivotal. A capable and experienced attorney can often mean the difference between a finding of guilt or innocence, and, critically, incarceration or freedom.