Self-Defense

Everyday there are events where people defend themselves from what they perceive to be harm in private or public places, but the question that always arises is whether or not it was under appropriate circumstances.  As a result, a defendant may claim self-defense when they are accused with a violent crime.  Self-defense is really more complicated than it appears to be at first, because several questions are always brought up: did you act within the appropriate means?  What were the circumstances surrounding the situation?  Was the fear of harm actually reasonable?  How was the attacker acting?  What do the other witnesses have to say?  Countless questions will be brought up in the trial of a self-defense situation.

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However, there are certain components that are brought up to define self-defense as a whole.  Usually, it is only acceptable to defend yourself from a threat, if that threat is imminent, and even if the event has already occurred (ex. An aggressor has assaulted you and you fight him or her off), you cannot defend yourself, legally, once that threat has ended.  That’s why it’s important to only fight back or defend yourself while the assailant is attacking you.

There are many different forms of self-defense.  The first is if you defend yourself from a threat that is unreasonable, you have just committed an imperfect self-defense.  Not all states recognize imperfect self-defense, however.  If you have committed an imperfect self-defense, you can claim that you were provoked to defend yourself, such as the other person creating a conflict, even if they haven’t directly harmed or assaulted you yet, or even attempted to.

There are other laws that require you to first attempt to avoid defending yourself before you actually have to.  This is called a duty to retreat.  This means that you must make an attempt to get out of the situation without the use of violence before using lethal force against the attacker.

Castle doctrine laws do exist in states have a duty to retreat law, but they only apply for if they occur in your home.  In castle doctrine laws, if someone unlawfully enters your home, then you can defend yourself with lethal force.

Finally, there is also stand your ground laws, which are legal in many states.  Stand your ground laws are the exact opposite of duty to retreat laws, as they allow you to defend yourself without having to attempt to escape the situation first.



Robbery

robbery lawyersRobbery is the theft of another person’s property and/or money through the use of physical force.  There are different types of robbery, depending on whether a weapon was used, whether someone involved received direct or indirect injury, etc.  But whereas burglary is typically defined as the breaking and entering into another person’s home or building without that person’s consent, most often an injury is committed in a robbery.

As with nearly any case of criminal law, there are certain elements that all make up the definition of a true robbery.  While the definitions of a robbery do vary by state, the most common elements are the intent to steal the personal property and/or money of another person, performing this theft in the presence of that person and against their consent, and performing this robbery through the use of physical force.  This last element is especially important as robbery almost always involves the use of violence, or at least the threat of it.  However, if the violence is committed by the robbery unintentionally or during their attempted escape, then they could be charged with resisting arrest and not robbery.

It also doesn’t matter whether the use of force was substantial or light.  It all depends on who was involved and the circumstances of the situation at hand.  Even just a small amount of violence or a low level of violent intimidation is all that is necessary to officially class an event as a robbery.  Therefore, certain forms of violence or violent intimidation could include forcefully taking something off of a person, such as a purse, punching or kicking the person, or displaying a gun or a knife and threatening to use it, or actually using it.

There are also different degrees of robbery, all depending on how serious the crime was.  If the robber uses a dangerous weapon with the intention or attempts to kill or injure someone during the robbery, then that would count as a first degree robbery.  Aggravated robbery may or may not require the use of a weapon to be involved, depending on the state.

As the different definitions and variations of a robbery vary by state, it is known as a state crime for the most part, but some kinds of robberies are classified as federal robberies, such as the robbery of a bank or credit union building.



Public Intoxication

calgary criminal lawyerPublic intoxication is a legal charge that a person is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol in a public location.  Public intoxication falls under both state and local law.  As with other criminal laws, there are different components that make up the definition of public intoxication in most states.  These components are much more simple and straightforward than some of the other definition of crimes.

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A public intoxication is generally defined as a person appearing or seeming to be drunk or intoxicated in a public place.  What’s interesting to take note of here is that you don’t even have to be drunk or high, you just have to appear that you are.  This is a fairly simple definition, but many states take it a step further and require that the prosecutor prove that the suspect was completely out of control to the point that they posed an imminent threat to other people in the public place.

However, if you are accused of public intoxication, then there are numerous defenses that you can bring up to challenge the prosecution.  The first and most obvious is that you were neither drunk nor acting drunk.  You can claim that your behavior was due to something else such as enthusiasm.  This is an affirmative defense that claims you definitely were not drunk or high or even acting like you were.

However, let’s say that you were drunk, or at least actually acting like it.  You can at that point claim that, even if you were drunk or acting like it, that it is not a crime where you are, or that you did so in a private place.  For example, you could cite that a police or law enforcement officer forced you to come into a public location to charge you with public intoxication, or charged you in a private location.  There are also some locations in cities that allow drunkenness in public locations; if you happened to be in such a place, you can bring that up in your defense as well.

In addition to brining up these points, the best way to defend yourself or a friend or family member who has been accused of public intoxication in court will be with a DUI or a criminal defense attorney.  You can bring up points such as whether or not the law was actually violated, if the police officer actually followed the law, etc.



Probation Violation

toronto assault lawyerProbation violation is a serious violation where someone breaks the terms and conditions of their probation.  There are, of course, consequences for a probation violation, but they vary by the circumstances of the violation.  These could include whether the violator has broken their violation in the past, their motivation or reasoning for wanting to break the violation, and the nature of the violation.  Common penalties for a probation violation will include large penalties and extended jail time or probation.

Probation violation laws differ greatly by state, and also by federal and state laws.  However, there are many different ways to violate probation that are illegal in most states.  These include not appearing at a scheduled court trial, not reporting to your probation officer, traveling out of state, committing other crimes during your probation (or getting arrested for them) or not paying any fines that you have been ordered to pay.

In the event that a person does violate their probation, then there are a few possibilities for what can happen next.  The first may require the violator to appear in court once the probation violation has been reported by the probation officer.  The methods listed above will be held in consideration during the court session, and the probation officer would offer their opinion on the severity of the violation.  Generally, the violator will be forced to pay a fine and spend more time either on probation or in prison.

In the event that the violator is found guilty of violating their probation, a sentencing will proceed immediately after the probation hearing.  The violator will see their probation extended, pay a large fine, and/or return to prison.  If the violator has violated their probation before, then the sentence will be much harder.

However, other penalties for violating probations can vary greatly.  For example, a lighter sentence could mean spending some time with community service, or at an institution to correct the violator’s behavior such as rehab or another program.  The harsher penalties include large fines or seeing a longer probation time.  On serious account, the probation will be eliminated all together and the violator will be forced to spend their remaining time in prison.  In an even harsher sentence, the judge may require the violator to serve an extended amount of time in prison in addition to paying an extremely large fine.



Larceny

toronto criminal defence lawyerMost people think of larceny as being a common theft where someone intentionally steals another person’s property without physical or lethal force (which otherwise would have been known as robbery) and transports it to another location.  Larceny is actually very similar to theft, to the point that in some states the two are virtually identical by definition.  Nonetheless, in some states larceny and theft vary slightly from one another.

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In most states, larceny is defined as where someone illegally stealing property or money away from someone else without the consent of that person, and intends to keep that stolen property away from the original owner permanently by transporting it to a different location and keeping it there.  For larceny to be considered larceny, it is extremely critical that each of these components happens:

The first component to committing a larceny is illegally stealing property from an owner.  Therefore, if the person ‘steals’ the property legally, then it automatically does not qualify as larceny.  States have varying definitions of larceny, so for example in some states the stealer must take the property away, while other states define larceny has simply taking control of the property without moving it.

For a theft to be considered larceny, the stolen property absolutely has to belong to a different owner.  If you lend a piece of property to someone else, and they don’t give it back to you in the specified time that you gave them, then if you go and take it back, you have not committed larceny because the property belonged to you originally.

For larceny to be committed, it also has to be committed without the consent of the owner.  If the owner approves you removing or taking his or her property, then you have not committed larceny.

Last but not least, for a theft to be considered larceny, a person must have the intention of keeping that piece of property from its original owner permanently.  If you take something from someone else but intend to give it back to the original owner, then you have not committed larceny (though you may be charged with something else).  You must also intend to take and keep the property by no mistake; if someone believes the property that they are taking is rightfully theirs, then they have not committed larceny.  Nonetheless, they could still be charged with something else.