Common Questions about Criminal Defense
- What should I do if I am arrested?
Remain silent. Do not speak to the police. Exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. No matter what a police officer promises, or possibly threatens you with, you are never required to speak to the police.
Next, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law, investigate your case, determine your options, formulate a defense, help you navigate the criminal justice process, and protect your rights.
There is great danger in not having professional advice from someone with specific knowledge, experience, and expertise in criminal defense to protect you and to ensure the best possible outcome. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney intimately familiar with criminal law, the justice system, the Rules of Court, and the Rules of Evidence can provide you with meaningful advice, answers, and guidance.
- Can I get the charges against me reduced or dropped?
In many cases, you can. Before you make any decisions about whether or not to accept any type of plea offer by the prosecution, you should have a criminal defense attorney thoroughly investigate the particular facts and circumstances of your case. Your attorney may be able to use information discovered as a bargaining chip to negotiate with the prosecutor for either a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.
- Shouldn’t I just plead guilty to DUI if my breath/blood alcohol test results were over the legal limit?
No. High BAC test results are often completely irrelevant in formulating a winning defense. For example, if the officer violates your Constitutional rights by stopping your vehicle without legally sufficient cause, the court is required to suppress all evidence seized subsequent to the stop, including the blood or breath test results.
Furthermore, there may have been one or more errors during the chemical testing process that can only be uncovered after carefully investigating and analyzing the testing protocol and scientific results with a toxicologist or criminalist experienced in handling DUI cases. Alcohol testing is not always accurate. Procedural errors, faulty or improperly maintained equipment, improper testing methods are always a possibility in a DUI case. If you simply plead guilty based on the test results alone, you may be giving up your opportunity for a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you.
- What are the differences between probation and parole?
Both probation and parole are ways for convicted persons to live outside of jail while under some form of supervision.
Probation may be granted by a judge as an alternative to a jail sentence at the time of the sentence. Probation is ordered when the circumstances of a crime suggest that the offender is not a threat to society and jail time is not an appropriate punishment. The offender may live in the community freely but must follow certain rules and conditions during the probation period such as reporting to a probation officer, participating in rehabilitation programs, or maintaining employment.
Parole is for criminal offenders who are released from prison to carry out the remainder of their sentence in the community. Those out on parole must follow certain terms and conditions such as living within state or county lines, meeting with a parole officer on a regular basis, or submitting to a drug and alcohol test.
Probation and parole can be revoked if the offender commits a crime or violates the conditions of his or her release in any way. If it is revoked, the offender could be sentenced to time in jail.
- What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is the first formal proceeding after criminal charges have been filed against an accused person. During an arraignment, the Court advises the accused of his or her legal rights. Typically, the following will occur:
1. The Judge will ask the accused if he or she wants the charges read and explained to him or her. A formal reading is almost always waived because the accused usually understands the charges.
2. The Judge will advise the accused of the potential penalties he or she is facing if convicted of the crime(s).
3. The Judge enters a not guilty plea on the accused’s behalf.
4. The Judge inquires whether the accused intends to obtain a private attorney or apply for a public defender. If applying for a public defender, the Judge will direct the accused on how to apply.
5. The Judge advises the accused of the next court date.