Time You Need Criminal Defense Attorney

This is a professional who can be hired to defend both corporations and individuals. In a legal setting they are referred to as the defendant and have been arrested as a suspect in an unlawful activity. This lawyer may also be referred to as a criminal lawyer or defense attorney/lawyer. They are responsible for representing people in court who have been accused of some form of criminal activity. In court the jury and judge will be the ones who decide if the accused is innocent or guilty. A criminal defense attorney should have a good knowledge about how the court system works and the law. Normally after attending law school they will have many years of working experience. Working as a criminal defense attorney they can be appointed by the court if the accused cannot afford an attorney or the defendant can hire them. A good lawyer can be very expensive. They can charge an hourly fee of three hundred dollars or more plus other fees.

The defendant will meet with the defense attorney to develop the best way to decrease whatever the consequences of the unlawful activity the defendant could have been involved in. If the defendant is innocent then it will be the responsibility criminal defense attorney to prove that to the jury and judge. These lawyers also have the job of giving their client a reality check. This is especially true if they believe that there will not be any type of consequence at all for the crime they are accused of committing. A criminal defense attorney will also negotiate deals with the prosecutors, helping to decrease any jail time or fees that their defendant might be facing. This lawyer could also help to customize the sentence for their client that will help them stay out of trouble in the future, especially in family or juvenile court cases.

A criminal defense attorney that is good will know the ins and outs of a local court circuit and will also know which tactics work for each judge when they are attempting to get the case thrown out or getting a reduced sentence for their client. They also know who has the power to settle different cases out of the courtroom. They also know how to find little-known laws that may help their client and can also use any lawful means that is necessary to prove to the judge and jury that their client is not guilty. Some criminal defense attorneys will take on only low-profile cases that are heard in little county court rooms, while others want to work on big, high profile cases.


Posted in Law

How To Choose Between the Right to Remain Silent and the Right to a Fair Trial

South Africa, post apartheid, is a country with one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world which gives substance to many second and third generation socio economic rights that would make an avid constitutional law expert weep with joy.

One of the most important provisions is Section 35(5) of the Constitution Act 108 of 1996 which deals with the right to a fair trial and provides inter alia that said right shall include the right to remain silent and to be informed of that right.

Not exactly earth shattering is it? In any democracy that would be the norm however it should be remembered that SA came from a time where, although the common law forbade torture as a means of obtaining evidence,it was established practice to apply a smidge of the third degree in the interests of “justice”

Since 1996 the Constitutional Court, and highest court in the land, has held that any legislation or conduct of a state organ must be held up to the spirit, objectives and values underpinning the Constitution. In doing so the Constitutional court was merely confirming the contents of Section 39(2) of the Constitution and has continued to do so in years since promulgation.

This has changed the approach of the Courts to the protection of the right to remain silent and they have held repeatedly:

1) An accused or a suspect whether charged or not must be apprised of the right to remain silent
2) As well as his right to exercise the right to remain silent
3) The state bears the burden of proving either by viva voce,circumstantial evidence that the right was FULLY UNDERSTOOD

What this means is that just a mere rattling off of a warning by a policeman and a perfunctory “do you understand”? will never be enough to render the trial fair.

In S v Orrie 2005(1) SASV 63(K) the court went as far as to find

1) Even an exculpatory version of events by a suspect or accused person is inadmissible in the absence of his right to remain silent being properly explained.
2) The right must be explained comprehensively to the accused/suspect
3) The right to remain silent and right against self incrimination may not be conflated since they are two SEPARATE rights.
4) The right to remain silent is tied to the right to counsel which includes the right to have a member of Legal Aid Sa visit the police station to consult with the accused/suspect.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity of the sordid history of South Africa can appreciate that this approach by the Courts is in stark contrast to the approach during the dark days of Apartheid when the police were above the law and could do no wrong despite the multiple deaths in custody.

It can be seen therefore that the right to remain silent and by implication the right to a fair trial is vigorously protected by our Courts and some members of the public would argue that it’s too well protected. In response to this assertion there is no more eloquent retort than that of Roman Poet Juvenal who famously asked “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


The Reason We Need Check Police Record

If you have previously been arrested, but you have been acquitted or the judge issued a not guilty, you might think that all is well. It might, but it might not be as some records may still be in your criminal record and can affect your employability. A police record or a criminal record is a list of all the criminal activities that a person committed and submitted by local, state and federal government agency. Depending on where the illegal activities was committed and the responsible agency some past criminal activities as well as acquitted charges will still reflect when a criminal background check is performed.

Why do you get a Request for a Criminal or Police Record

Various agencies and companies ask a copy of one’s criminal record especially employers in the financial or vulnerable sector. Aside from this, one might also require to provide a copy if they intend to purchase firearms or military services. One would also need to provide a copy if they are planning to adopt or foster a child. This would ensure that the child would be safe in the foster home; he or she will be place.

How to Request for a Copy

If you are interested to check your own criminal history, you can visit your local police department and request for one. This type of records are restricted and can only be access by the government, certain agencies as well as the person itself. In certain instances, some information maybe made available to the public by the government. A criminal record is different from a background check, as a criminal record would provide the person requesting any information about any arrest or convictions as well as probation and sentence. A background check on the other hand might involve a person’s status, credit report and other basic information. Some states use the two interchangeably and therefore, it is important to ask before consenting to the request.

Aside from the local department, one might also request from the State Department or the FBI if one is residing in US. One may also order a copy online from third-party companies. Do note that these companies can legally provide such services however; the information provided depends on what the State and Federal government allow.

If you find yourself having a positive criminal record and your activities might affect your employability, you can contact the local police department if your case is eligible for an expungement especially if it is a juvenile case. You can also contact a lawyer specializing on criminal records to get help with sealing your case.


All About Criminal Records on US

A criminal record is a sheet that has a person’s criminal records whether local, state or federal. It may include past criminal information of the person as well as pending charges and other information depending on where the person is based. Criminal records are not public records, are therefore – classified as restricted access to the public, and may only be access by certain people or agencies. In the US, request for criminal records or “Certificate of good conduct” is uncommon however if need be, US citizens may obtain one from different government agencies such as their local Police Department and FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services or FBI – CJIS division.

Why do you need to obtain one?

Request for criminal records depends on the following reason:

a. Employment purposes

b. Entrance to military services

c. Admittance to educational institution

d. Firearm licensing

e. Adoption or for child fostering

f. Registration of votes

g. Immigration purposes

Can it be made available to the Public?

Although criminal records are not open to the public, some information may be made public depending on the specific information needed. Sex crimes, for example are available to the public and some states in the US has their own sex offender registry that one can access online free. That said some information might still be withheld from the public depending on the classification of the crime committed.

Where to Look for Criminal Records?

If you are interested to obtain a copy for your own use or for any other reasons mentioned above, you can request your records through your local police agency or even through online directly from the government agency such as the Department of Public Safety, your Police Department and even from third-party sites.

There are two ways of that one can obtain their records from the FBI CJIS division, one of which is to submit a written request. The request should include the requestor’s personal information such as name, birthdate, money order cheque and a set of rolled ink fingerprint impression. Another way is to contact a third-party company to do the record check. The third-party individuals usually have a contract with the government to process the request making it easier for requestor to request for their records.

In certain instances, one would need authentication of the search results especially if one request it for international purposes. To request for authentication of the criminal records, one would need to indicate it in their request at the time of submission.