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Criminal Law Definitions

1. What is assault and battery?

Assault is the impending threat or the attempt to hit or harm you. Battery is when someone hits you with a fist, other body part or a weapon. Assault and battery are often charged at the same time.

2. What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is the taking of assets belonging to anyone else.

3. What is murder?

Murder is intentionally taking the life of another individual. Murder can be planned or can be a death which occurs during the course of another crime.

4. What is molestation?

Molestation is the improper touching of one individual by another.

5. What are probation violations?

Individuals who have been convicted of crimes have certain restrictions placed upon them. These restrictions are part of the probation process. An individual convicted of a crime who violates the restrictions imposed upon him or her can be considered to have violated probation.

6. What do I do if I am arrested?

Do not make any statements regarding the alleged criminal acts. Advise the police that you do not want to make a statement until you have an attorney present. Make a phone call to a friend or loved one, and advise them of your situation and have them retain an attorney for you.

7. If the police have a warrant to search your house, can they search elsewhere in the house?

The answer to this question is generally no. A search warrant must specifically state the location and areas in a house that the police have a right to search.

8. Can I tape record a telephone call I have with another individual?

In the State of New York, the answer is yes. This does not apply to all states. As long as you are on a telephone call with another individual you can tape record the phone call in New York. However, you can not legally tape a phone in New York when you are not a participant in the conversation. This is considered wire tapping, and is a crime under New York Law and under Federal Law

9. What are your Miranda rights?

Miranda rights come from the case decided by the United States Supreme Court of Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, the United States Supreme court laid out a defendant’s rights as:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • If you do make a statement, what you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have a right to consult with an attorney.
  • You can also have an attorney present during your questioning.
  • In the event you can not afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you by the court.
  • In the event you are being questioned by the police, you have a right to stop answering questions at any time.

10. When are Miranda warnings required?

Miranda warnings deal with the issue of interrogation after arrest. In the event an individual is interrogated after being arrested, either at the scene of the crime or in police custody, the police must give the Miranda warnings. In the event the individual being questioned is not in police custody the answers given by said individual can be used at trial against him or her.

11. What protections does the Fifth Amendment give to individuals charged with crimes?

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that an individual should not be forced to be witness against himself. This means that an individual questioned by the police has the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the police questions. It should be noted that the police do not respond well to individuals refusing to answer questions. You should always be polite and avoid being disrespectful when dealing with the police.

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