Attorney Truong, as a former prosecutor, has significant experience in handling criminal law matters. The term criminal law refers to any of various bodies of rules in different jurisdictions whose common characteristic is the potential for unique and often severe impositions as punishment for failure to comply. Criminal punishment, depending on the offense and jurisdiction, may include execution, loss of liberty, government supervision (parole or probation), or fines. There are some archetypal crimes, like murder, but the acts that are forbidden are not wholly consistent between different criminal codes, and even within a particular code lines may be blurred as civil infractions may give rise also to criminal consequences. Criminal law typically is enforced by the government, unlike the civil law, which may be enforced by private parties.

Summary ¹

In the United States, criminal prosecutions typically are initiated by a complaint issued by a judge or by indictment issued by a grand jury. As to felonies in Federal court, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires indictment. The Federal requirement does not apply to the states, which have a diversity of practices. Three states (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington) and the District of Columbia do not use grand jury indictments at all. The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to a speedy and public trial, in both state and Federal courts, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime was committed, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of Counsel for his defense. The interests of the state are represented by a prosecuting attorney. The defendant may defend himself pro se, and may act as his own attorney, if desired.

In most U.S. law schools, the basic course in criminal law is based upon the Model Penal Code and examination of Anglo-American common law. Crimes in the U.S. which are outlawed nearly universally, such as murder and rape are occasionally referred to as malum in se, while other crimes reflecting society's social attitudes and morality, such as drug prohibition and alcohol laws are referred to as malum prohibitum.

¹The information contained in this website is not legal advice but for general information purposes only. Please contact Attorney Truong for a consultation regarding your specific circumstances.