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Criminal Law 

If you have been arrested, you might be wondering what happens next. Most people know about arrest and trial, but a lot happens in between in this lengthy process. And though you’ve probably seen the criminal justice system on TV, or listened to a true crime podcast or two, exposure to the system through pop culture won’t necessarily help you understand everything that goes on in a criminal law proceeding.

Criminal law can be complicated, as there are state crimes and federal crimes, and the two systems don’t always work the same way. 

What You Need to Know

  • “Substantive criminal law” is the general term for the state and federal laws that make certain conduct illegal – it is meant to deter criminal offenses.

  • Each state has its own criminal code that defines what conduct constitutes a crime and how the judicial system will punish that conduct.

  • Illegal conduct can be charged as a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction – a felony charge results from serious misconduct and receives the most severe sentence.

  • Each state determines the level at which illegal conduct will be charged. 

Book of French Laws

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