A crime is any act or omission that violates a law which results in a punishment. Punishments can range from the payment of a fine to incarceration in jail. The level of the offense or crime will usually be set in proportion to the severity of the crime. For example, parking in a two hour parking zone for three hours is a crime. The punishment usually involves the issuance of a ticket and an individual paying a fine. On the other end, robbing someone at gun point is a much more severe crime that can result in a lengthy prison sentence. If a statute merely encourages a conduct, but does not provide a punishment, then a violation is not generally considered a crime, even though you may be exposed to some type of civil liability. For example, many family codes have general policy statements that encourage parents to resolve custody disputes in a friendly manner. If the custody battle turns ugly, a violation of the general policy rule, by itself, is not a crime because there is not a defined punishment.
Which specific acts or omissions constitute "crimes" depends on the governmental bodies where you live. Most likely you will be subject to three sets of laws at any given time. The first set is defined by federal statute. The second set is outlined by Pennsylvania government. The third set are laws are enacted by Greensburg government and are commonly referred to as municipal ordinances. Local rules focus on the conduct that the local community expects people to abide by like speed limits in school zones and noise control at certain hours. If there is ever a conflict in federal law with a state or local rule, federal law will generally control. Always consult with a Greensburg Criminal Attorney if there is any questions about the law or your rights.
Most crimes require that you complete an affirmative act before you can be punished for the conduct. If you store drugs in the pocket of your jacket, you affirmatively possess a controlled substance. Some crimes, ironically, punish for omissions. For example, if you are aware that your boyfriend is physically abusing your child, you could be charged for failing to report child abuse. The basis of the crime isn't what you did, but rather what you failed to do. Always consult with a Greensburg Criminal Attorney if there is a question about the law and your rights.
Many people also assume that crimes are the result of an intentional conduct. Like noted above, if you intentionally had drugs, you could be punished for the intent of your conduct. However, many crimes can involve negligent conduct. Speeding is probably the best example. A good number of people never really intend to speed. They just (for instance) get caught up in their favorite song and never notice that they depressed the accelerator a bit too much. But regardless of the intent, they are still liable for the speeding ticket. Another crime which has been growing in momentum is using a cell phone while driving. Because of the number of children injured, many states and communities have begun enacting laws which prohibit you from driving in a school zone while using a cell phone. If you injure a child while going through a school zone and using a cell phone, you could be charged for negligently causing injuries to the child. You did not intend to hurt the child, but because of your negligence, you could still be criminally prosecuted and punished. It is always best to consult with a Pennsylvania Criminal Attorney to best protect your interests.
If you are concerned about whether your conduct, or absence of conduct, could result in a criminal charge being filed against you, consult with a Greensburg Criminal Defense Attorney to set up your consultation today.