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February 2013 Archives

First Degree? Second Degree? What Do Degrees of Murder Mean?

The common denominator in all murder cases is that someone ends up dead, but the law makes distinctions between first degree and second degree.

Actually, the law makes a lot of distinctions between different types of homicide. In Arizona, that includes murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide. To cover the wide range of murder cases, the state divides it into two categories.

Like with most crimes, the difference rests on the intent of the person who committed the crime. It’s not just about the killing; it’s also about the violation of social norms.

Celebrating 50 Years of Gideon and the Right to Counsel

This year, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, a Supreme Court case that defined the right to counsel.

Never heard of the case? We'll bet you know about it even if the name doesn't sound familiar. Let's try it by a different name: How about the right to have an attorney provided if you can't afford it? Does that sound familiar?

We thought so. The right to a public defender is pretty popular, and it's thanks to Gideon that you have it.

Theft, Burglary, Robbery: What's the Difference?

Newspaper stories on crime are filled with legal terms like theft, burglary, and robbery. But not a lot of stories explain how each of these crimes differ.

These offenses all fall under the idea of stealing, but property crimes are about more than that. Any time property is taken or destroyed, there's a criminal charge that could apply to the person who is arrested.

The difference between the charges is important because it affects how serious the sentence for each crime can be. So, what is the difference?

When Does Your Right to an Attorney Kick In?

We all know you have a right to an attorney when you're charged with a crime, but when exactly does that right begin? What crimes qualify? And what are you actually entitled to when it comes to this "right"?

Those are all good questions to ask, so long as you're not asking them while handcuffed at the police station. It's better to understand your rights before you need to use them.

A criminal defendant's right to counsel stems from the Sixth Amendment, but many court cases have refined what you're entitled to. Here's what you need to know: