Featured News 2018 What Does It Mean to Be Charged, Convicted, or Sentenced?

What Does It Mean to Be Charged, Convicted, or Sentenced?

When watching a show about crime, you may hear the words charged, convicted, and sentenced. Although most people know these words relate to the criminal justice system, many aren't sure of their actual definitions.

What Do These Words Have in Common?

Charged, convicted, and sentenced have a few things in common:

  • They relate to the criminal justice system.
  • They are words used in the processing of a defendant.
  • They each represent a unique identifying stage in the justice system.

What Does It Mean to Be Charged?

Being charged means criminal justice authorities (a prosecuting lawyer who reviews a police report made by the arresting officers) believe the person in question is guilty of a crime. When a charge is made, it is a formal allegation that the charged party is guilty of a committed offense. It is important to note that an allegation is an unconfirmed statement. Therefore, when a person is charged with a crime, it does not mean the charge will stand. In fact, some charges are dropped on the same day. Therefore, while charges are serious accusations, the charged is not found guilty in the eyes of the law. If a person is charged with a crime, they should hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to combat these allegations. Fighting a charge is the first step to a healthy defense because an experienced lawyer can identify where the charges were misplaced or made incorrectly.

When a person is charged they are:

  • Accused of a crime
  • Able to combat the charges
  • Still innocent in the eyes of the law

What Does It Mean to Be Convicted?

Conviction is the determination that a person is proven or declared guilty of a charged offense. Convictions are more severe than charges because conviction is a legal decree stating a person is, in fact, guilty of a crime. In criminal court cases, a trial must take place before a conviction can be made. Once a trial is over, the jury may find the defendant guilty of their charges. He or she is then convicted under the law. However, even when a jury hands down a conviction, a lawyer can still prove a person's innocence. Your lawyer (or your new lawyer) could help you file an appeal against a conviction if authorities made an error during the conviction process.

When a person is convicted they are:

  • Labeled as guilty of a crime
  • Able to appeal under the right circumstances
  • No longer legally considered to be innocent

What Does It Mean to Be Sentenced?

When a defendant is sentenced, they are issued a formal judgment that details the punishment. Sentencing is only completed by a judge once a person is convicted of a crime. In most circumstances, a defendant can apply for permission to appeal the sentencing of a judge. If successful, a judge can lower or alter a convict's sentence. Despite the appeal process, the convict will start to serve their original sentence before appeal litigation ends.

When a person is sentenced they are:

  • Judged for their crime
  • Able to appeal under the right circumstances
  • Condemned under the eyes of the law

Regardless of where you or your loved one are in the processing system, hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer can benefit your case. They can help you fight against the prosecution and walk you through this difficult time in your life.

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