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These are cases most typically involving violent physical contact between spouses, roommates, siblings, or even persons who share a child in common. There are instances where someone can be charged with assault without ever physically touching the other person. With a range of penalties from misdemeanor sanctions and counseling to felony incarceration, this type of case is often in the forefront of state legislation.
These crimes often involve the possession, sale, or distribution of illegal narcotics. “Cultivation” refers to the growing of organic drugs (e.g. marijuana), while “manufacture” means the creation of synthetic drugs or isolating drug compounds from organic sources (e.g. heroin, cocaine, etc.) “Distribution” is the sale of drugs, while “possession” means having the drugs on one's person or within easy reach. If you are found in possession of a sufficient amount, you may be charged with “Possession with Intent to Distribute” or “Trafficking” if law enforcement believes the defendant intended to sell the narcotics.
Driving Under the Influence is a crime where law enforcement alleges the person operating the motor vehicle was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of driving to such an extent that their normal faculties (e.g. reaction time, eye-hand coordination, etc.) are impaired, and/or that the person is operating a motor vehicle with a blood/breath/urine content of .08% alcohol or greater. Penalties are increased for the amount of alcohol, as well as the number of any prior offenses.
Felonies and Misdemeanors
A felony is defined as any criminal offense punishable by death or imprisonment in a state correctional facility for a term exceeding one year. A misdemeanor is any criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in a county correctional facility not in excess of one year. In each type of crime, there are various levels of offense (3rd degree felony, 2nd degree felony, etc.) with a corresponding increase in the type of punishment that is possible.
State and Federal Court Cases
Federal crimes (e.g. Internet fraud or pornography, bank robbery, interstate crimes, etc.) are those crimes where federal authorities, (the FBI), believe someone has committed a crime that involves a conspiracy or action across state lines. The United States Code and Federal Sentencing Guidelines control the sentencing of individuals convicted of these type of crimes, requiring the federal judge to follow a formula for the type of offense and person's criminal history. Once the defendant is convicted and the prior record is determined, the judge uses a chart to determine the sentence that must be imposed. Since there are only a few ways to get a downward departure from sentencing guidelines, it is imperative that an attorney who is thoroughly familiar with federal court procedures represents you.
State crimes are investigated by a local police department and prosecuted in a state circuit or county court. These are violations of state statutes and ordinances, not federal laws. These types of crimes include murder, rape, child abuse, drug sale, domestic battery, etc. Most often, these are the cases that go before a jury, where the state prosecutor is required to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge in a state court can hear felonies and/or misdemeanor crimes, and decide the appropriate punishment with assistance from the state sentencing guidelines.
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