Sixty-eight percent of those convicted of a felony in 2000 were sentenced to incarceration. That's over two-thirds. If you want to reduce the chances that you'll go to jail, a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is your best ally.

At The Law Offices of Sutley Legal Services and Attorney Benjamin C. Sutley, we have dedicated our careers to defending people against criminal charges. We strongly believe that specific focus on the subject is an important ingredient in a criminal defense attorney. In addition to that focus, we offer personal attention to all of our clients. We take a hands-on approach to every case we handle. Whether you have been charged with domestic violence or a federal firearms violation, we can help.

To discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, contact us at 410.727.2040 for a free initial consultation.

For more details on criminal law, please view the following information.

Criminal Defense - An Overview

Our criminal-justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. The United States' incarceration rate is much higher than that of other industrialized countries. Prison sentences are getting longer and more frequent. If you face the possibility of being accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal-defense lawyer as early in the process as possible, preferably even before questioning or investigation. A skilled attorney can fight for your legal and constitutional rights. Remember that if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the government may have to provide one for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Criminal Defense

Q: Is unsuccessfully attempting to commit a crime an offense?

A: It may be. It depends on the circumstances and on the law of the jurisdiction. A person who intends to commit a particular crime and takes a substantial step toward perpetrating it, but fails to actually complete it may be guilty of the separate crime of attempt. Generally an act that is extremely remote from the completed crime, such as early preparation, will not be significant enough to constitute criminal attempt.

Q: What is the role of the grand jury?

A: The US Constitution requires that the federal government convene a grand jury to decide whether accusing a person of a major crime is appropriate. In a practice originating in England, the grand jury reviews the evidence and may hear testimony in deciding whether to indict someone, but the grand jury makes no decision about guilt or innocence. Another traditional purpose of the grand jury is to serve as a buffer between an overzealous prosecutor and the accused. All states also use the grand jury system to some extent.

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Criminal Liability

Historically in our criminal-justice system, two things must have been present for criminal liability to attach to an action. First, a person must have the intent to take the criminal action. Traditionally this culpable state of mind was called mens rea, Latin for guilty mind.

The second requirement for criminal liability is actus reus, Latin for guilty act. The prohibited physical event must take place in combination with the requisite criminal intention for the actual commission of a crime to take place.

Constitutional Protections of the Criminal Defendant

When our country was founded, its supreme law was recorded in a document called a constitution. A national constitution establishes the country's basic philosophy and structure and can be looked at as the blueprint from which the laws will flow. The United States Constitution and its subsequent amendments define the scope of governmental power and reserve certain individual rights to the people.

Classifications of Crimes

Because the negative behavior regulated by the criminal laws varies from relatively minor to devastatingly violent, crimes are classified into levels or degrees. The classification of a crime reflects its seriousness. If you face questioning or arrest or are accused of a crime, you should consult an experienced attorney as early in the process as possible for help protecting your legal and constitutional rights. A criminal-defense lawyer can explain the particular crime involved and its possible ramifications.

The Death Penalty

Worldwide, capital punishment is becoming less popular and is seen increasingly as a human-rights violation. The majority of executions take place in Iran, China and the United States. In the US, 37 states and the federal government allow execution as a criminal penalty under certain circumstances. The states with the highest numbers of executions are Texas, Florida, Virginia, Missouri and Oklahoma. Experienced legal counsel is of the utmost importance for anyone accused of a capital crime.

Finding a Job After a Criminal Conviction

Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about knowing whether applicants have criminal records. Part of this concern stems from large jury verdicts that have been rendered against employers for negligently hiring people with criminal histories who ultimately harm others. However, the laws vary widely from state to state about which criminal records an employer must or may access, what an employer may ask a potential employee and what the job applicant must reveal. If you have a criminal record and seek a job, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law and employment law so that you go into the job search fully informed of your rights and restrictions.

Criminal-Defense Resource Links

Equal Justice, USA
"Capital Defense Handbook For Defendants and Their Families" provides information and advice about death-penalty cases from the defense point of view.

Prisoners and Prisoners' Rights
The Legal Information Institute (LII) from Cornell University Law School is known internationally as a leading provider of public legal information. The LII's prisoners' rights section includes links to related resources.

Justice Denied

"Justice Denied" is a magazine devoted to helping people who have been wrongly convicted of crime in the US and internationally.

The Sentencing Project

A national leader in the development of alternative sentencing programs and in research and advocacy about criminal-justice policy.

Prison Policy Initiative
The Prison Policy Initiative conducts research and advocacy about incarceration and criminal-justice policy.