As a business owner, keeping informed about the finer points of employment law is important. If you're getting ready to hire your first employees, you need to be sure that you understand exactly what you can and cannot do. Don't risk getting yourself into legal trouble by asking the wrong question at the interview or making an off-hand comment that's considered legally unacceptable. I created this site to give you the basics of employment law expectations. I hope that the information here helps you to understand what you should and shouldn't do as you're interviewing and hiring your first staff members.
If you have been charged with a crime, one of the first and most important things you need to do is meet with a criminal lawyer. He or she can guide you through the court process and hopefully get the charges against you reduced or dropped completely. This first meeting with your lawyer can be a little stressful, as you're sure to be embarrassed about the situation and apprehensive about the consequences. Knowing the definitions of some legal terms your lawyer will probably use will ensure you get more out of the meeting and come away from it feeling informed and confident about your situation.
Chances are, your lawyer will talk to you about your arraignment date -- which is a date upon which you must appear in court for the judge to be told of your charges. This is also when you -- or your lawyer -- will first tell the judge whether you plan to plead guilty or not guilty.
Burden of Proof
When you are charged with a crime, it is said that the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff. In other words, it is up to the court to show evidence of your guilt. If they fail to do so, you cannot be found guilty.
Counsel is just another term for the lawyer or attorney who represents you. Your lawyer may refer to themselves as your counsel.
The word "deposition" is a fancy term that means "statement." A deposition is made under oath, usually in front of the judge. You may be scheduled a court date to give a deposition regarding your charges prior to the day of your hearing. Certain witnesses who know of your case may also have to give depositions under oath prior to your sentencing date.
Having your charges dismissed is just about the best thing that can happen when you've been charged with a crime. The judge may completely dismiss your case if there is little to no evidence to suggest you committed the crime, or if it is found the charges were made in error. Your lawyer may also negotiate to have your charges dismissed if you complete community service; this often happens with very minor crimes.
Your lawyer may insist that some of the evidence the court is bringing against you is hearsay. Another way to phrase this would be to say that the evidence is secondhand. For instance, if a witness says a friend of theirs said they saw you commit a crime, that would be hearsay.
Your lawyer may tell you they are trying to arrange a deal under which your charges are dropped or dismissed, and you're simply put on probation. This means that you'll be let off -- but only if you don't commit any more crimes for the duration of your probation. You may be assigned an officer to meet with during this time, who will ensure you're continuing to live within the bounds of the law.
If your lawyer says someone related to your case has been issued a subpoena, this essentially means they have been ordered to appear in court as a witness. They must comply or face charges of contempt.
The verdict is essentially the decision made by the judge. They will offer a verdict or "guilty" or "not guilty" after hearing your case.
If your lawyer uses any other confusing terms during your meeting with them, don't be afraid to pause and ask them to define the terms. Sometimes, lawyers forget that their clients aren't as familiar with legal terminology -- but a good lawyer will be more than happy to explain.