are ‘rules of criminal procedure?’
The established methods and practices used to resolve
criminal cases are embodied in a set of rules referred
to as "criminal procedure." The rules of criminal
procedure are designed to ensure that an accused is given
due process of law.
is meant by criminal procedure and why is it important?
The rules of criminal procedure are set down to guarantee
constitutional due process to those individuals charged
with a crime. Because a person charged with a crime can
be subjected to a loss of liberty, subjected to a fine
and the loss of civil certain civil rights (to carry a
weapon or right to vote) the rules of criminal procedure
should be strictly followed. The failure to follow these
rules that guarantee certain constitutional rights can
result in a conviction being reversed and the charges
dismissed. The trend in law today is to retreat from that
position as the rights of the state and victims are being
given more weight in the balancing of the two positions.
is the difference between a civil offense and a crime?
A civil offense is an infraction of a law that is not
a crime. This may be something like a routine traffic
offense such as speeding. The only penalty for a civil
offense is a fine. A crime is a violation of the law that
is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence. A Class Three
or Class Four misdemeanor in Virginia is only punishable
by a fine. These may be violations of noise ordinances
or other offenses not involving injuries to other persons
or their property. A Class One misdemeanor is punishable
by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A Class
Two misdemeanors are punishable by 6 months in jail and
a $1,000 fine. Felonies are punishable by one or more
years in prison and fines of up to $100,000
and arrest - what's the difference?
Law enforcement officers have the right to investigate
circumstances when there are facts which, together with
reasonable inferences drawn from those facts, warrant
further investigation. Thus law enforcement officers may
temporarily stop a person in a public place (without transporting
the person to another location) for the purpose of (1)
requiring the person to justify his/her presence and activity
in the location and (2) to identify him/herself. The stop
may be accompanied by a "patdown" search for
weapons. This enables law enforcement officers, with minimal
upset to public tranquility and intrusion into personal
rights, determine whether they should arrest a suspect,
investigate further or take no action because their initial
suspicion proved groundless.
arrest occurs when a person reasonably believes he is
not free to leave due to the actions of law enforcement
officers. Once an arrest has occurred and questions are
asked, law enforcement officers must provide Miranda warnings
(the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney,
etc.). However, if no questions are asked (other than
questions to determine basic biographical information
such as name and address), the warnings need not be given.
Do they need a warrant to arrest me?
No. An arrest by a police officer without a warrant is
proper if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe
that you have committed a crime.
Can I sue the cop for false arrest?
Sometimes. A false arrest consists of unlawful restraint
of a person’s liberty without proper legal authority.
The key words here are “without proper legal authority”.
The burden is on you, the person complaining they have
been falsely arrested, to persuade a court or jury that
the officer acted without legal authority. This can be
difficult to prove. The good news is that if you can show
the officer was malicious you may be entitled to more
money or what is referred to as “punitive”
damages. A common example of a false arrest situation
is where an officer may arrest a black kid suspected of
shoplifting, with no real suspicion that the kid did anything
wrong, just because he may have been the only black kid
in the store.
frustration for people who want to sue for false arrest
is that the lawsuit is in another court (civil), a different
judge, usually a different lawyer, there are different
rules for what is happening in the criminal case, and
the case can take longer to resolve.