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Criminal Law FAQs

What are Miranda rights?
A person being accused of a crime has Miranda rights during police questioning.  These rights include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.  An attorney must be provided free of charge if the accused cannot afford one.

What crimes represent a failure to act? 
Most criminal acts are crimes of commission; someone does something that has been labeled as a crime.  However, some criminal acts are crimes of omission or a failure to act.  Examples of crimes that represent a failure to act are income tax evasion for the failure to properly file and pay income taxes, animal cruelty for a dog that starves to death, and child neglect for a child that doesn’t receive appropriate medical care.

What does “malice aforethought” mean? 
“Malice aforethought” refers to the specific intent required in some crimes.  The most common example is first degree murder.  To convict an actor of first degree murder, the government must prove that he or she had malice aforethought, meaning that the murder was thought out or planned. 

Do those convicted of crimes have rights?
Those convicted of crimes have a right to appeal their case until they reach the court of last resort.  In addition, those convicted of crimes have civil rights, including the right to health care, mental health care, right to be free from sexual crimes, and the right to have access to programs if disabled.

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