Erin Fowler Law

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FAQs - Criminal Defense

First Steps

The very first thing that you should do is hire an attorney who specializes in criminal defense. Having an attorney insures that you are aware of your rights and that the police can not take advantage of you. You should immediately stop talking about your case to friends, family, or the police; each of these people can be subpoenaed to testify against you and anything you say can and will be used against you.

Hiring an attorney immediately also insures that certain critical steps are taken promptly and correctly. For example, if you were arrested for a DUI a 10-day letter to prevent your driver's license from being suspended for a full year, or more, may be required. This letter requires specific information and failure to comply with these requirements can negatively affect both your driver's license and your criminal case.

Bonding

Yes, there are means to modify a court order. It is important that you are aware that only a Judge can agree to change a court order. This means the parties cannot agree between themselves not to comply with the order. Your attorney can take action in several ways; for example, your attorney can contact the prosecutor and see if consent can be reached to present to the Judge or can motion to court and have a hearing in the matter.

There are three ways to make a bond. Most jails will accept each of these bonds or a combination of the three.

The first way is a cash bond. A cash bond means you, as a friend or family member can pay the full amount of the persons bond by cash, certified check, travelers checks, or money order. The bond amount my also include a processing fee.

The second means of posting a bond is through a bonding company. Each jail will have a list of approved bonding companies. The bonding companies will typically charge between 10 (ten) and 15 (fifteen) percent as their fee to post a cash bond.

The third way to post a bond is to post a property bond. In most jurisdictions the property must be double the value of the bond. For specific clarification on what is needed for a property bond you should contact the applicable jail directly.

The most important thing to know about bond is that it is only intended as a means to insure your appearance in court. You will be given a court date when you bond out along with a list of bond conditions. Failure to appear at any court date or failure to comply with the terms of your bond can result in your bond being revoked and surrendered.

Yes, many times an attorney can negotiate a lower bond amount if their client is unable to post bond at the current amount. This means a lawyer can take to do this is by attending the client's first appearance hearing, negotiating with the state, or by having a hearing with the assigned judge in the case.

Miranda Rights

The Miranda warning is an important warning that should have been read to you if you were being interrogated by a police officer while in custody. An attorney can evaluate whether or not under the law a Judge would find that you were in custody and whether the statements or acts were induced by police interrogation. After careful evaluation, your attorney can file a Motion to suppress these statements and present your case to the Judge.

If you were in custody and interrogated the case does not automatically result in a dismissal. Generally, failure to read Miranda when required would result in the prosecution being prevented from using your statements against you in there case in chief. Sometimes, these statements are the bulk of the prosecutions case and your attorney can negotiate for a dismissal or reduction of charges.

Criminal Process

When you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, you might be overwhelmed with the number of court appearances you will have and the penalties you are facing. Each case is different but the vast majority of cases involve appearances for a first appearance hearing, an arraignment, motions hearing, pre-trial hearings, trial calendar call, priority calendar call, and possibly a plea hearing or trial. Each of these dates are very important as there are rights that might be lost if you fail to raise a particular issue at the hearing or trial.

A first appearance hearing is a hearing that is held when you are first arrested. Typically the judge will address bond and bond conditions at this hearing.

An arraignment is held when the state has presented their formal charging document. It is a date where you will enter an official plea of guilty or innocent. It also starts the deadline for filing your pre-trial and constitutional motions. It is very important to have an attorney by this date so your motions are filed timely and you do not loose this very important right.

Pre-trial hearings, trial calendar call and priority call are unique hearings but essentially are hearings where your attorney announces to the judge the status of the case and whether you are prepared for trial. If you are not prepared for trial, the judge will likely want a reason and will have to grant a continuance for you to be taken off the trial calendar.

Trials are the final step in the pre-appeal process of your criminal case if you have not been successful in having your case dismissed or you have not otherwise been able to reach a successful negotiation of your case. Trials may either be by judge or by jury. At your trial, the State will be required to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. You will have the ability to cross-examine all the State's witnesses and examine the evidence against you, you will also be able to subpoena and bring forth witnesses and evidence of your own.

Benefits of an Attorney

It is extremely important not to speak to the police or prosecution about your case regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty. The police are trained to use trickery and deception to get you to answer their question. Many times, individuals believe they are helping their cause when they are only assisting the police in building a case against them - even when there should be no case against them to begin with. Always tell the police that you wish to remain silent and that you want an attorney present before you speak with them.

Unfortunately, once the police are involved and you are arrested it is not up to your husband or wife to "drop the charges." The only means to have the charges dismissed is to persuade the State that you are not guilty of the charges or to negotiate alternative means of resolution. It is imperative that you have knowledgeable representation who can advocate on your behalf in this situation.

Yes, when you are charged with violating your probation you are entitled to a hearing to determine whether or not you have in fact violated your probation. The state carries the burden of proving that you violated the terms and conditions of your probation. Your attorney can also speak to the state and discuss a favorable resolution to your violation that can minimize the consequences to you.

Hiring a lawyer early can help you challenge your charges, and possibly avoid having formal charges filed against you altogether. Often there is something we can do to positively impact your case almost immediately. The serious and long-lasting repercussions a conviction could have on your reputation, your freedom, and your future as a whole, must be minimized.

Your attorney may be able to explore First Offender options with you which would prevent a conviction from being on your record if certain terms are met. He or she may also be able to find alternative and non traditional options to resolve your case.

Bench Warrant & FTA

You should contact an attorney right away so that he or she can find out what the warrant is for and try to negotiate on your behalf. Failure to address an outstanding warrant could result in the police appearing at your home or business to take you into custody.

First, you should retain an attorney right away. If you missed a court date if is extremely likely that the judge has issued a bench warrant for your arrest and that your bond was forfeited. Your driver's license may have also been suspended. A bench warrant means that you are subject to arrest and you may be held without bond until your case reaches final resolution. Your attorney can file a motion to quash the bench warrant, have your bond reinstated, or to work efficiently to resolve your case in an expedient manner.

For specific information about your case and your options, contact us and request free consultation.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case.