Criminal law is, as you may have guessed by the phrase, law that handles those who commit crimes. A crime is defined as an abnormal behavior that stands in violation of the normal behavior of a society. The normal behavior of a society is determined by the government of the society at the federal, state and local levels. Specific punishments will then be listed out for crimes that are committed in violation of those normal behaviors. Crimes may or may not be victimless, meaning crimes can be committed where no other individual in the society is a victim.
The punishments for crimes vary extensively. Considerations such as how bad the crime was and where and when it was committed all have to be taken into account. However, all crimes can be divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the more serious of the two and will always result in prison time of a minimum of one year. Examples of felonies include robbery, murder and kidnappings.
Misdemeanors are far less serious, and the punishment for a misdemeanor will always be less than one year. Examples of misdemeanors include petty theft and vandalism.
However, even people who have been accused of crimes have laws that protect them. The United States Constitution in particular grants those accused of crimes the right to an attorney, to a speedy and public trial, to not incriminate oneself, and to an appeal.
Nonetheless, there’s still a difference between those who are accused of committing a crime and those who have been officially convicted of committing that crime. A person who is convicted of a crime will see their entire lives move in a different direction. They may not be able to secure high paying jobs in the future, they may pay fines that are larger than they can afford, and can spend a lot of time in prison.
The people who are tasked with defending those accused of committing crimes to lessen the blow as much as possible are criminal attorneys. Even if a person accused of committing a crime is likely guilty of committing it (but remember that everyone is innocent before proven guilty and needs their trial), an attorney can develop a strategy to lessen how much time one spends in prison or has to pay in fines by avoiding mistakes made in the courtroom and investigating the charges that have been put forth.