Felonies are treated as the most serious class of criminal offense throughout the legal fraternity in the United States. The repercussions of a conviction due to felony charges can be extremely severe and can include imprisonment, fines and probation, and immediate loss of political and legal rights.
According to the United States’ federal law, the term ‘serious violent felony’ refers to a federal or state offense consisting of murder, manslaughter, assault with intent to commit murder or rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, and use or possession of firearms.
In order to pay closer attention to such crimes, many jurisdictions have separated felonies into distinct criminal classes. This allows the justice department to keep track of a repeat offender convicted of committing a felony, and ensure that he/she receives a more severe punishment than a first-time offender.
If you’re facing criminal charges for committing felony crime, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney without wasting time.
Here are a few important tips on fighting violent felony crime charges:
1. Verify the Charge Sheet and Legal Documents
In all criminal cases, the legal procedure usually starts with the police officer filing an arrest report. After this, the public prosecutor determines the criminal charges that need to be filed against the defendant.
At this stage, it is crucial for the defendant to verify the charges mentioned in the charge sheet as it will determine the type of punishment or fine he/she is likely to face. These documents will be shared by the police department or the prosecutor’s office. As the defendant, you need to make sure that every detail mentioned in the documents is accurate.
In some cases, the police report can include limited information about the incident and officers can mention incorrect details due to misinformation or misjudgment of the scene. If you can highlight any discrepancy in the report, the criminal charges against you can be dismissed on the grounds of the police not following the proper procedure.
All information stated in a criminal complaint is governed by the state laws, and the public prosecutor is authorized to dismiss these charges against the defendants if he/she finds that the information is inaccurate or incomplete.
2. Opt for Legal Representation
Defending charges of violent felony crime(s) without an attorney can be risky, as you may face hefty fines or jail time if you are unsuccessful. You can always seek help from the state’s legal department if you aren’t able to afford the fee of hiring a private lawyer. The United States Constitution gives you the right to be represented by a competent attorney, and he/she will be appointed to you free of charge, if you submit financial documents reflecting that you are unable to pay for a private lawyer. Generally, the fees of government-appointed lawyers are disbursed from the government’s account.
Among the key reasons for opting for legal representation is that your lawyer can help you with pre-trial communication. If you’ve committed a less-serious crime, your attorney may be able to explain the incident to the prosecutor or the police officer and convince them to reduce the intensity of the punishment.
A renowned criminal defense lawyer in New York agrees with the idea of seeking legal aid for fighting serious felony charges. He states, “criminal defense attorneys are familiar with local court customs and procedures. He/she may even know which prosecutor holds the power to settle your case and what kinds of arguments are likely to convince that prosecutor. Presenting the appropriate arguments may even lead to reduced charges and lesser sentences.”
3. Review the Elements and Evidences of Your Case
Generally, the prosecutor needs to prove the relevance and authenticity of each element and evidence of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. You need to explain the entire incident to your legal counsel, review the different elements of the case, and identify the possible evidence that can be used in court. If your attorney can object to the credibility of these elements, then the judge/jury may rule in your favor.
It is quite possible that weak evidence connects you to the crime without any unquestionable proof highlighting that you committed the crime. In such a scenario, it may be easier for your attorney to prove your innocence. Without enough evidence of intent, the prosecutor will have a hard time getting you convicted for the crime.
4. Try to Get Your Case Dismissed
Many cases of felony crime, including petty theft and first-degree murder, can be dismissed by the judge or prosecutor. One of the common reasons for the dismissal of a lawsuit is insufficient evidence against the defendant. Your attorney can also try to prove that certain evidence against you was obtained using unlawful methods. Further, proving that the crime’s statute of limitations has expired before the hearing can help get the case terminated.
Another option to steer clear of a conviction can be pleading for a first-time offender program. It allows the defendant to avoid severe punishments; he/she is entitled to such relaxation from the prosecution only once. To be eligible for the program, you must not have any past criminal record or felony convictions.
Being faced with accusations of violent felony crimes can be devastating for anyone, as he/she not only stands to lose reputation, but also has to go through the strenuous legal procedures and present persuasive arguments to the judge/jury to prove innocence. In such a situation, he/she cannot use illegal or unprofessional methods, and should hire an experienced lawyer to handle the case. Doing so can help him/her to evade the possibilities of suffering long-term consequences due to the felony charges appearing on their criminal record.