Criminal law

“Back in 1790, the first federal criminal law passed by Congress listed fewer than 20 federal crimes. Today there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations, many of which have been added to the penal code since the 1970s.” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 27, 2011

Furthermore, the New York Times, on April 23, 2008, reported:

“In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.”

No more.

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

Experience talks. David L. Vicevich has defended clients over the entire spectrum of the criminal justice system, from deliberate homicide to leash law violations. Handling hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases over 13 years of experience, Vicevich Law is positioned as Montana’s premier criminal defense firm. Everybody makes mistakes and has lapses in judgment, but politics and technology of 21st Century America disfavor second chances. A criminal record can impair an individual for life. Traffic violations like DUI can now carry stiffer penalties than assault and dangerous drug possession. For a non-judgmental confidential consultation schedule an appointment today.

Land Use / Zoning

David Vicevich has specialized in land use, municipal and environmental law since the late 1990’s while he was at Washington University School of Law. Vicevich Law can meet your needs for zoning, road use, municipal, easement and access.


Through statutory law, federal, state and local governments, agencies and boards, regulate land use, access and development. The majority of controls on land, however, stem from actions of private developers and individuals. Three typical situations involving such private entities and the court system are: suits brought by one neighbor against another; suits brought by a public official against a neighboring landowner on behalf of the public; and suits involving individuals who share ownership of a particular parcel of land. In these settings judicial determination and enforcement of private land-use arrangements can not only reinforce public regulation but achieve forms and levels of control zoning cannot. Questions of land use, therefore, are inherently political as well as judicial.  David L. Vicevich’s experience as an advocate in many settings both political and judicial creates a balance uniquely suited to address your land use needs.


After a decision is rendered in a civil or criminal law trial by a trial judge or jury, the losing parties have the right to have the decision reviewed by a higher court. Appellate Law (also known as the appeals process or appellate procedure) consists of the rules and practices by which higher courts review lower court judgments. Appellate law deals mainly with what judgments are appealable, how appeals are brought before the court, what will be required for a reversal of the lower court (e.g., a showing of “abuse of discretion,” “clear error,” etc.), and what procedures each party must follow.


Appellate law is different than other forms of litigation because the appellate record is limited to what was already presented to the trial court. An appeal is presented to a multi-judge appellate panel and is decided almost entirely on the written briefs. In practice in Montana many large firms dump appellate brief writing on young associates or contract it out to unemployed lawyers working as brief writers. This practice is absurd. A higher court review requires extensive understanding of trial practice to detect issues and errors as well as the sophistication necessary to deal with an even more formal court setting.


Over his entire career David L. Vicevich has practiced appellate law. He has earned a statewide reputation for his appellate work and frequently is brought in by trial attorneys in the area and by clients nationwide to handle their appeals.  Call to schedule your appellate review today.

General Civil Litigation

General civil litigation applies to a broad range of laws and the associated litigation of civil law. Civil law is designed to settle disputes between individuals, organizations, associations, business entities, etc. through a process called litigation. Civil litigation defines the legal status of each party without criminal action and usually is initiated to seek some sort of compensation for the plaintiff. The plaintiff is the person whom begins litigation by filing a pleading, a complaint, against the defendant. The complaint of the plaintiff may be settled by agreement of the parties or by trial.


Civil actions can be filed against individuals, groups, associations, business entities, organizations, companies, or government agencies. Civil matters can involve economic restitution, compensation for an injured party, deterrence from future actions, or retribution for a wrong or wrongdoing.


Vicevich Law has expansive knowledge of general civil litigation and can provide legal assistance and representation for any general civil litigation issues.


Vicevich Law works with highly qualified professionals and expert witnesses to prove any general civil litigation case before a civil court of law and to ensure that the client’s rights are respected and observed at all times in any tribunal.


Civil litigation differs from other types of law in a variety of ways. It can be employed to force the parties to a contract or binding agreement to adherence to the established accord, correct an injustice, resolve a disagreement, or compensate a victim through monetary means as opposed to criminal prosecution of an individual or entity.


Civil laws vary according to the particulars of an individual case and the laws of the jurisdictions involved in the dispute. The law changes, the forum changes, the players change, the attitudes of juries change; persuasion is persuasion. Using technology as a tool and employing the mobile law office, Vicevich Law is able to provide superior advocacy in any forum whether the issue is big or small.


For Canadians

Vicevich Law in Canada

David L. Vicevich has spent his career practicing in a location near Canada.  This has led to the representation of Canadian clients in Montana and his Canadian wife owns a business in British Columbia.  With the relative strength of the Canadian economy, his experience in Canada, his past experience helping Canadian citizens, and his convenient home base on the I-15 corridor; David is in a unique position to assist Canadian investors and litigation parties with the intricacies of Montana and U.S. law.  Vicevich Law is your resource, whatever the concern or opportunity.

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