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We all make mistakes. When we do, it’s important not to make things worse through ignorance of the law or of our rights. If you find yourself facing criminal investigation or prosecution because of choices you’ve made, the more information you have about the law, the process, and your rights, the less likely you will say or do something that compromises your defense.

GetLegal.com’s Criminal Law Center contains information on a wide range of topics affecting potential criminal defendants, from an overview of the criminal justice system to some of the specific defenses you can raise to a criminal charge. You’ll find summaries of your rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as information on how you can seal or expunge a criminal record.

DWI/DUI

DWIs and DUIs are heavily litigated crimes. Each state differs in its laws governing driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence.

Traffic Tickets

Traffic violations differ by state but include offenses such as speeding violations and hit-and-runs.

The Criminal Justice System

There are many steps in the criminal justice system between getting arrested and being sentenced to prison or released.

Fundamental Rights of the Accused

The Bill of Rights guarantees certain rights to criminal defendants. The right to a trial by jury and the right to be protected against unlawful searches and seizures are two well-known examples.

Defenses to Crimes

It’s important for an accused person to mount all available defenses. Examples of such defenses are insanity, self-defense and duress.

Expunction/Expungement

Expungement (known in some states as expunction) erases the public record of an arrest or conviction.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but still may carry hefty fines or prison sentences. States vary in the crimes they classify as misdemeanors.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice is the area of law that determines the appropriate punishment for juveniles who commit crimes and other offenses.

Forfeiture

Criminal forfeiture — the government seizure of property connected to illegal activity — operates as punishment for a crime.

White-Collar Crimes

These are non-violent crimes, such as fraud, embezzlement and bribery, committed by corporations or individuals in the course of business activities.

Crime Classifications and Definitions

Learn how the FBI classifies and defines various personal and property crimes.