Criminal Defense: Frequently Asked Questions
What are my rights?
First of all, you have the right to remain silent! You do not need to speak with law enforcement without an attorney present, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney, and you have a right to know what you are being charged with and why. You also have a right to a fair trial.
How do search warrants work?
While police generally do not get a search warrant to search a car, they will often obtain search warrants to search items such as your cell phone, camera, computer, locked container, safe or home. To receive a search warrant, police must file properly. To honor individuals’ rights they must clearly specify what will be searched and what they are hoping to seize. A warrant makes clear what the police are allowed to do, such as whether or not they can arrest individuals on the premises. If they overstepped their bounds at all and violated your rights, you need a criminal defense attorney.
What should I do if I am arrested?
After you are arrested, you have several rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself or personal belongings, and the right to an attorney. At the police station you have the right to see the written codes governing your rights and how you are treated, to speak to the custody officer and to know why you have been arrested. The most important step you can take following an arrest, is to secure the legal services you need.
How are children and youth prosecuted?
After you are arrested, the police must notify your parents. You will be appointed a lawyer and will be taken to court shortly (either the day you were arrested or the next day, unless it is the weekend). A clerk’s hearing will determine whether or not there is enough reason to believe that you committed the crime you have been charged with. After you go to court the first time, a judge will decide whether you should be kept behind bars for the time being or not. He/she will consider your prior record, whether you have other open cases, whether you are on probation and the seriousness of your current charge. Your case will be prosecuted by the Assistant District Attorney.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies; however, they can still involve up to 12 months in jail and a permanent criminal record. Most first time OUIs/DUIs without aggravating circumstances are misdemeanors, as well as minor theft offenses and certain assault cases. Felonies are more serious crimes that involve more than 1 year in prison, up to life imprisonment, hefty fines and parole. Most violent crimes are considered felonious offenses.
What types of penalties might I face?
Penalties vary depending upon whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Criminal penalties may include any of the following: fines, community service, victim restitution, drug or alcohol counseling, prohibition from owning or using a firearm, driver’s license suspension, jail, prison, probation, parole, a permanent mark on your criminal record, mandatory sex offender registration (certain sex crimes), and more.
What types of circumstances can worsen my penalties?
Under certain conditions, you could face enhanced penalties. Such conditions would include using a weapon during the commission of the crime, having a minor involved in the commission of the crime, causing serious bodily injury to the victim, being on probation or parole when the crime was committed, having a criminal record, and violating a term of your probation.
Why should I hire a private criminal defense attorney?
When your future is at stake, you want an attorney that is fully committed to protecting your rights from start to finish. You can’t afford to hire an inexperienced attorney who views you as just another criminal in the revolving door of criminal cases. Your rights and your future matter and having a criminal defense attorney that is equally aggressive and compassionate about your cause can mean the difference between incarceration and freedom. Call us today.