Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
If you are being questioned by the authorities, then you should immediately inform them you wish to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. It is advisable to not speak to the authorities without speaking to a criminal defense lawyer first and having that attorney with you if you decide to make a statement. Your attorney can help you strategize how best to move forward in your situation.
Certain crimes can only be brought forward through a grand jury indictment. A grand jury is when local citizens are called in to listen to the case and review the evidence. They will then decide whether or not there is enough evidence in the case. If they do find there is enough evidence in the case, that does not mean you have been found guilty, but it does mean that the District Attorney’s office will likely move forward with bringing your case to trial. A grand jury testimony may be used against you later, so seeking the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer is recommended.
First, do not speak to the police officers who are arresting you except to immediately inform them you wish to invoke your right to legal counsel. While you should cooperate with their requests, maintain your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you later.
You may be fingerprinted and photographed after arrest, and you may need to wait for bail. Seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your first court appearance will be for an arraignment. At this court appearance, you will enter a guilty or not guilty plea. From there, you will attend future court dates until your case is resolved with a plea agreement or trial on the merits.
When bail is set, the judge weighs several factors, including the nature of the criminal charges, family ties, employment history, financial resources, potential threats to the community, and flight risk potential. Your lawyer can file a Motion to Reduce Bond to request a lowered bond. This motion may result in a hearing where testimony may be heard by the judge.
Costs will vary depending on your charges, the evidence, and other factors. The Berg Law Firm offers a free in office initial consultation to assess your case and provide an estimation of attorney fees.
Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies. A misdemeanor charge may result in a fine and/or a jail sentence of six months or less with a few exceptions where the jail sentence may be for one year. A felony charge may also involve fines and may result in a sentence of a year or longer in prison.
An arraignment is the first court appearance in a criminal case. At the arraignment, a criminal defendant is advised of the formal charges being brought and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges.
Probation is a sentence from the court that allows you to avoid serving a jail sentence. You will have to follow certain conditions set by the court. Those conditions will likely include reporting monthly to the probation office, paying probation fees, and avoiding new criminal charges.
Miranda rights are to inform citizens of their rights while in custody and being interrogated by the police. Miranda rights do not have a bearing on your actual charge. If you were not read your Miranda rights, then that only means that any statements made by you during the arrest and interrogation may not be admissible in court. It does not mean that the charges will be dropped.
Yes, in certain circumstances, a police officer may conduct a search without a warrant. Those circumstances include when a police officer sees evidence of a crime in “plain view,” when an officer has established probable cause, when a police officer has obtained consent from the property owner, and when a police officer is conducting a search incident to arrest.
If the police officer does not have a warrant, you may refuse to comply with their request for search under the Fourth Amendment right which protects citizens from unreasonable searches. However, if the police officer does have legal standing to make the demands, then you should comply.