Navigating The Legal System: A Guide For Beginners

legal system

Do you want to keep yourself out of jail? If the answer’s a yes then you need to learn about the American legal system. You cannot predict when you are going to be involved in an accident, assault or any other criminal matter. Familiarising yourself with the basics of criminal law will help you to deal more effectively with such situations when and if they become manifest. In this post, you will learn about what you need to do if you are ever arrested and how you can prevent yourself from ever coming across police officers and the judicial system.

Know the Law

If you want to keep yourself out of jail then you will need to familiarise yourself with your state’s laws and regulations. Learning about your state’s laws will help you to avoid getting arrested in the first place. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Individuals already arrested and charged with crimes need to make special efforts to learn about the laws that apply to their unique situations. The judge presiding over your case will not view you in a positive light if you haven’t come up with a sound defence or if you claim you did not know the law and therefore should not be held accountable for your actions.

Legal Advice

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you need a lawyer’s support. For instance, if you find yourself charged with serious crimes like domestic assault, a legal expert such as assault lawyer Charles Kania could be the professional help you need. According to one Lake County DUI attorney only with professional help will you be able to overcome the charges laid against you. An attorney will be able to provide you with expert advice and representation. Bear in mind that to overcome your charges you’ll need a lawyer who specialises in a relevant area of law. Ideally, the lawyer you hire should also have good reviews. Reviews can tell you a lot about a legal professional and help you to decide whether they’re sensible to work with or not.

Complete Honesty

If you are not honest when giving testimonies and accounts of the incident that led to your arrest then you can wind up facing perjury charges. Always provide accurate and honest information when you are in court otherwise you could end up facing a long prison sentence. Judges and juries don’t look favourably upon liars. Your lawyer may refuse to represent you if they find out that you are lying or if you are outed for telling mistruths in court. Remember that a lawyer’s reputation can be negatively impacted by client dishonesty. In theory, lawyers could be disbarred for knowingly representing a liar.

Maintain Records

Whenever you are dealing with the legal system you need to keep meticulous records of important documents and communications. On an entirely unrelated note, it’s also important to try and present as much evidence as you can supporting your case. Evidence can strengthen your case and increase the likelihood of it ending favourably. In terms of maintaining records, keeping them will help you to be more organised when it comes time to go to court. A lot of people have a casual attitude to legal correspondence and documents, believing their lawyers will store everything for them. It is your job to store documents, not your lawyer’s.

court orders

Court Orders

Sometimes criminal charges don’t result in prison sentences. Individuals never previously convicted of crimes tend to be treated leniently unless they have been charged with a heinous crime. If your crime was not particularly serious and you have no prior criminal record, you could be given a court order. If you are given one then you need to make sure that you follow it. Not complying with the rules of a court order can get you into a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, people tend to underestimate the importance of complying with court orders and breach them. Breaching yours could potentially wind up with you being sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

Meet Deadlines

The legal system can be difficult for even the most experienced lawyers to comply with. An unavoidable part of American court cases is filing deadlines. Throughout the process, you will be required to file documents and forms. If you do not file these on time then you can get into a lot of trouble. Some people have even been arrested for missing deadlines. Your lawyer will tell you what deadlines you have to meet so make sure that you work closely with them and listen to their advice and guidance. If they tell you something is due on a specific date then make sure that it is prepared and ready to submit.

Behave Respectfully

In court, behave respectfully. If you do not behave respectfully or appropriately the judge will likely order you to leave or punish you in another way. Courtroom etiquette is pretty simple and shouldn’t take you long to master. If you do have any questions direct them to your lawyer. Individuals that have never been to court before will likely be briefed by their attorneys before they go into court on how to behave and what not to do. If you have never had to go to court before then your lawyer will most definitely tell you what to do beforehand so you do not make any mistakes.

Keep Informed

Throughout the process of being charged with a crime and going to court, there will be things you need to keep informed on, i.e., dates, deadlines, and filing times which were mentioned previously. If you do not take steps to keep yourself involved and informed then you could end up getting into more trouble. Involvement in your case and defence will ingratiate you to the judge and your lawyer. Keeping yourself involved in everything that’s going on shows that you care about your freedom and is a strong sign of your innocence. You can sometimes get allowances from the judge (like sentence reductions) for being punctual and showing that you want to get your case dealt with as effectively and quickly as possible.

Navigating the American legal system isn’t easy. If you are a beginner and have been charged with a crime then the best advice you can take from this post is to hire a lawyer. A lawyer’s guidance and advice will help you to make sounder, more reasonable decisions.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.