What does Crime mean?
A crime is any illegal activity deemed illegal by the state or federal government. A crime can consist of not only an overt illegal action, but it can also include omissions and neglect. Persons accused of a crime or violating the law can be charged by the state with a criminal offense.
Crimes are categorized into two main categories: violent crime and property crime. Property crimes are committed when an individual destroys, steals or damages another person’s property or public property. Property crimes are very common in the United States, even in areas which have very little violent crime.
Violent crimes, which are generally much more serious offenses, can include any harm or injury caused to another person or persons. Common types of violent crime include rape, robbery, murder, or assault and battery.
Although some crimes involve covert action, such as property or violent crime, crimes can also be committed through omission or neglect. For example, parents who fail to properly care for their children may be charged with a crime for neglect. Other persons caring for the elderly may also be charged with a crime if they fail to provide adequate medical attention, food, or water.
What if I have been charged with a crime?
If you have committed a criminal offense (or the state suspects you have) you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor charges are lesser offenses with penalties, including fines and minimal amount of jail time. Felonies, however, are much more serious charges and may result in life prison terms or the death sentence (in some states).
If you have been charged with a serious crime it is important to talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately. Due to the complexity of the U.S. legal system, it is important to get help from someone who understands the law.
What if I did not know I broke the law when I committed the offense?
Federal laws are passed not only by the U.S. Congress, but state legislators also constantly pass new laws. Local governing bodies may also pass local or city laws which pertain only to a particular community.
With so many different bodies generating so many different types of laws it’s not hard to believe that many citizens break laws everyday without knowledge of their illegal actions.
So can you be charged with a crime if you did not know the law? Yes, for example, if you were using a cell phone while driving in a city which had banned cell phone use while operating a vehicle, ignorance of the law is not a defense. You can still be charged and convicted of a crime.