Common Types of Criminal Defense Cases

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Common Types of Criminal Defense Cases

Criminal cases cover a wide range of potential charges people may face if they’re arrested. After an arrest, it’s imperative the person obtains a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to defend against the charges. A few of the different types of charges a lawyer can help with include the following.

Fishing and Wildlife Charges

The violation of federal, state, or local fishing and wildlife laws often leads to a fine, but it could also lead to an arrest and potential time in jail. Types of crimes include hunting out of season, taking restricted animals, taking too many animals, or hunting or fishing without a license. When hunting or fishing, know what the laws are and have any licenses or permits needed on hand in case you’re stopped.

Grand Theft Auto

The theft of a motor vehicle is considered grand theft and is a felony charge. For auto theft or UDAA (unlawfully driving away an automobile), the potential sentence is up to five years in prison. If the vehicle is taken without the intent to steal it, the potential sentence is up to two years in jail. These sentences apply to anyone in the vehicle, not just the driver, so a passenger can be criminally charged even if they did not know the vehicle was stolen or did not steal it themselves.

Juvenile Crimes

When someone who is not yet legally an adult is arrested, they may be charged as a juvenile or adult, depending on their age and the charges they’re facing. Anyone 14 or older can be tried as an adult, in which case any potential sentences that would be applied to a convicted adult can be applied to the child if they’re convicted. If the child is tried as a juvenile, they are tried in the family decision court. These cases can be very complicated, so having a lawyer available for help is imperative.

Prostitution Charges

Prostitution or soliciting a prostitute are sex crimes that can lead to a lengthy jail sentence after a conviction. With both prostitution and solicitation, the arrested person may need to register as a sex offender if they are convicted. There are appeals for this, but a lawyer is needed to have a better chance at successfully appealing these types of convictions.

Sexual Battery

Sexual assault or battery covers a variety of different crimes, including date rape and statutory rape. These are considered criminal sexual conduct cases and can lead to lengthy jail or prison terms as well as having to register as a sex offender. It is crucial for anyone accused of sexual battery to hire a lawyer, as the potential outcomes for this type of case can completely alter the arrested person’s life.

Stalking Charges

Stalking, whether done online or in person, is a possible charge when the arrested person is accused of repeatedly or continually harassing another individual.  The key to these cases is whether the contact was unconsented. Contact can be in person, such as approaching the victim, calling the victim, following the victim, or going to where the victim works. Digital stalking can include emailing them, following them on social media, messaging them online, and more. If stalking is done in violation of a restraining order or probation, includes a threat to the victim or someone living with them, or occurs after a conviction of misdemeanor stalking, this charge becomes aggravated stalking, a felony.

Accessory Charges

If someone commits a crime, anyone who helps them can be charged as an accessory. Examples of this often include the person driving the car to leave from a theft or burglary or someone helping cover up a crime they didn’t commit. Those charged as an accessory can face the same outcome as the person who committed the crime, depending on the situation, so it could lead to misdemeanor or felony charges.

Computer Crimes

Computer crimes cover a wide range of potential charges, such as swatting, harassment or stalking, improperly accessing a network, stealing information from a service provider, and more. It also includes cyberbullying and related charges. These types of crime can be specific to computers, such as hacking, or other types of crimes, like fraud, where computers are used while committing a crime. Depending on the specific charges, computer crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies.

Contempt of Court

Someone who does not follow court orders, whether it’s a civil or criminal case, can be at risk of contempt of court charges. Most of the time, contempt of court is civil and paid by fines to get the person to do what they’re ordered to do by the courts. However, a judge can issue a criminal contempt of court charge, which means the person will be sent to jail. This is done as a punitive measure and just opting to comply isn’t going to get the person out of jail.

Indecent Exposure

If a person exposes themselves and does so in a place where it’s a reasonable risk that someone might see it, they can be charged with indecent exposure. Indecent exposure is typically a misdemeanor charge but can become a felony in some cases, such as when the person is a repeat offender. It is possible, if the person is convicted, they will need to register as a sex offender after the conviction. It is possible to avoid a conviction, but a lawyer is needed to do so.


Kidnapping is the act of taking someone against their will to another place or holding them in a controlled space and preventing them from leaving. These charges include the kidnapping of adults, the abduction of children, and parental abductions. There are defenses to kidnapping, though it can be difficult to avoid a conviction without a full understanding of the law and the possible defenses.


Forgery applies when a person signs a document with someone else’s name, provides a false document for any purpose, or sells an imitation of an item. With forgery, the intent is key, as if there is no intent to deceive, it is not considered forgery. If a piece of art is sold that is a copy of an original and the buyer believes they’re getting an original, it is a forgery. If the seller makes the buyer aware that it’s just a copy or reproduction, it is not a forgery, as there is no intent to deceive the buyer.


Embezzlement is the act of taking property from someone else for their own use, without the intention to return it. Often, embezzlement cases deal with funds being taken from businesses, such as an employee taking a little bit of money out of the drawer each week or creating an extra paycheck for a fake employee and cashing it themselves. However, embezzlement can cover any type of property, not just money. Embezzlement can also include smaller amounts of money, not just tens of thousands of dollars worth of property.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the act of using someone’s personal information without their permission. Though many people think about identity theft done overseas with stolen information, that isn’t always the case. A person using their sibling’s ID for a purchase and pretending to be them could be considered identity theft. Depending on the situation, this could be a state or federal crime and the penalties can be severe.

These are just a few of the cases criminal defense lawyers will handle. If you’ve been charged with a crime, no matter what kind, speak with an attorney today. A quick consultation can give you more information about the charges you’re facing and help you make the right decision for your next steps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense

Every criminal defense case is different, but anyone who has been arrested will likely have many questions about the criminal defense process and their chances of avoiding a conviction. Below are some of the questions criminal defense lawyers are asked most often to help you learn more before a consultation.

What Happens After the Arrest?

After an arrest, the person will be arraigned. This is where they are formally charged with the crime or crimes. Bail may be set or they may be released pending the outcome of a trial. A hearing will be held to determine if the person pleads guilty or not guilty. If they plead guilty, the next hearing will be the sentencing. If they plead not guilty, the case will go to trial. There may be other hearings or other steps in between, depending on the specific case.

How Long Does a Criminal Case Take?

The answer to this depends on the specifics of the case. If the case is a simple misdemeanor, the person pleads guilty, or the person accepts a plea deal, the case can be completed in as little as a few weeks or months. However, if the case is a felony, is more complex than most cases, or goes through the trial process, it can take months to a year to complete. Rarely, cases can take longer than this.

Should I Speak to the Police?

No. It is not a good idea to speak with the police. Many people mistakenly believe they won’t be arrested if they just tell the police their side of the story. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to end up saying something that sounds incriminating, especially if it’s out of context. Instead, though it is necessary to provide identifying information to the police, it’s better to avoid saying anything without a lawyer present.

Should I Agree to a Search?

No. Searches, before an arrest, can only be done if the officer has permission or if they have reasonable cause. If the person allows a search, any evidence from the search can be used in court. If the person does not consent to the search, the officer will need to prove they had reasonable cause to search in court before the evidence can be used. If there is no reasonable cause, the evidence can be dismissed, which may lead to the charges being dismissed.

Should I Allow the Police to Enter my Home?

No. Similar to agreeing to a search, it’s better to avoid letting the police in the home unless they have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, call a lawyer immediately for advice and assistance. If the officers do not have a warrant, politely request that they come back with one. They will need sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant, which they may not have. Plus, this gives the person the chance to hire a lawyer and get advice for moving forward.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Guilty?

Yes. Just because someone is guilty doesn’t mean they will be convicted. It is possible to fight the charges. If the person is convicted or pleads guilty, the lawyer can also help with requesting a reduced or deferred sentence, helping their client minimize the impact a conviction will have on their future.

Is the Charge a Felony or Misdemeanor?

It can sometimes be difficult to understand what a person is facing. In most cases, when they are told what the charges are, the person will be told if it’s a felony or misdemeanor. If this is not the case, a lawyer can review the charges to determine what potential sentences the person is facing. While some crimes are just misdemeanors or just felonies, others can be either, so it is a good idea to get clarification before making any decisions.

What’s the Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor?

The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the length of the sentence. Misdemeanor cases are those where the potential sentence is one year or less in jail. Felony charges are those where the potential sentence is one year or more in prison. In addition, felony charges may result in the loss of some basic rights, such as the right to vote while incarcerated or the right to possess firearms after their release.

Is There a Chance I’ll be Found Not Guilty?

Yes. There is always a chance that someone can be found not guilty, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. In criminal cases, the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. If they cannot do that, whether it’s due to lack of evidence or other reasons, the defendant can be found not guilty. Hiring a lawyer help with this, as the lawyer may be able to get evidence suppressed or find other ways to prevent the prosecution from being able to prove the defendant is guilty.

Can I Have the Records Sealed or Expunged?

Yes, depending on the charges. Convictions can be expunged, which is where any records of the arrest, charges, or conviction are deleted. It is as if the arrest and conviction did not happen. Convictions can also be sealed, in which they are simply closed and will no longer show up on background checks run by employers or licensing agencies. A sealed record can be accessed if needed, such as when applying for jobs that require security clearances or a job as a police officer. 

What Do I Do About an Arrest Warrant?

Before doing anything else, speak with a lawyer. If someone turns themselves in on an arrest warrant, they face at least a few days in jail before their arraignment. Instead, by talking to a lawyer, it’s possible to have the process sped up and be able to post bail before going to jail, significantly reducing the amount of time between being booked and being able to leave.

Is it Possible to Find Out if I Have a Warrant?

It’s possible to worry about being arrested due to something that may have happened years ago. If someone doesn’t show up for court, for instance, there may be a warrant for their arrest. Someone who is unsure whether there may be a warrant for their arrest can speak with a lawyer. The lawyer can look up this information and, if there is a warrant, help the person with the next steps.

Are Juvenile Cases Handled Differently?

Yes. In most cases, children who are arrested go through the family division of the courts with the goal of rehabilitation rather than punishment. However, there are exceptions to this. In certain situations, such as when the child is close to being an adult or commits more serious crimes, they may be tried as an adult. If this happens, they will go through the same court process an adult would and will face charges in criminal court instead of the family division. Hiring a lawyer for the child can help them defend against the charges they may be facing.

These are just a few of the most common questions criminal defense lawyers are asked and the answers are general. If you have specific questions about your own situation or you’ve been arrested and need help, contact a criminal defense attorney today. They can give you more specific answers and help you with your case going forward to help you get a better outcome.

Here's a few of our valued client's reviews of our criminal defense work:

five star reviews personal injury lawyer
Outstanding lawyer. Cannot say enough about this mans compassion,knowledge an work ethics, he returns calls, keeps you informed thru the process an goes above an beyond the norm.. He is an awesome lawyer that cares an has been an asset to my son an I during this process. Highly recommended !
Posted by Gary August 20, 2016
August 20, 2016
five star reviews personal injury lawyer
Weise Law did everything in it's power under the law, to protect, defend, and represent me in a time of need. While dreary, and surreal, a pending criminal case, they seemed the only positive factor, and for that, they should be held in high regard and highly sought, perhaps more then just as a defense team. Thank you, Weise Law!
Neil H.
a year ago
five star reviews personal injury lawyer
Bill Weise was my attorney, he does a very good job at coaching you threw the process of the court, he kept me updated throughout the time leading up to sentencing and got the best outcome possible. I would recommend, thank you Bill
Ben B.
a week ago

We can defend you in all types of criminal charges including felony, misdemeanor, and juvenile cases throughout West Michigan.

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