A criminal charge is a formal accusation made by a local, state or federal governmental agency claiming that somebody has committed a crime. There are different levels of criminal offenses which generally include infractions, violations, misdemeanors and felonies. Depending upon the offense, a charging document (i.e. complaint, information, indictment or traffic ticket) which alleges one or more criminal offenses, is filed with a criminal court. The charging document is what generally starts a criminal case. In order to charge a criminal offense, the charging agency must have probable cause.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain rights to those alleged to have committed a criminal offense. Among those rights are (i) the right to remain silent, (ii) the right to an attorney, (iii) the right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure, (iv) the right to a trial, (v) the right to have a charge proved against you beyond a reasonable doubt, (vi) the right to confront witnesses, (vii) the presumption of innocence, and (viii) the right to have a jury of your peers to determine guilt or innocence.
Many criminal charges can be resolved without the necessity of a trial. In the event a case cannot be resolved without a trial, an experienced attorney will follow a detailed process ensuring maximum protection of an accused's rights.
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