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How do I choose a criminal defense lawyer?

If you have been accused of a crime, your defense is extremely important. There are many attorneys to choose from. You should choose a defense lawyer who is highly experienced and focused on their clients. They should be informative, helpful, and take the time to explain things fully and carefully to you. You should feel free to ask as many questions as you like, and they should answer them to your satisfaction. These are ways in which you can determine that you have chosen the right law firm. Be sure to ask about their credentials.

How much will it cost to hire my criminal defense lawyer?

There is no pre-set fee for representing someone in a criminal case. Each case is different, and requires different levels of investigation and case work. Also, the defense strategy varies by case. For these reasons, we are unable to put a fee on this website.

If I’m arrested, what are my legal rights?

You have legal rights under the “Bill of Rights” of the United States Constitution, and it is very important that you know and understand those rights in order to help your case. Rights include: Miranda Rights; Fifth Amendment (you can not be a witness against yourself); Sixth Amendment(right to a speedy trial); and Eighth Amendment (no excessive bail).

What if my constitutional rights were violated?

If you believe your constitutional rights were violated, discuss it with your attorney or potential lawyer in your initial conversation. If your constitutional rights were indeed violated, your criminal defense attorney will seek to exclude evidence obtained as a result of the misconduct. Your lawyer will protect your rights by submitting motions to the judge to exclude the improperly recovered evidence, or received statements, from trial. Often a successful motion to suppress certain evidence hurts the prosecutor’s case, causing the case to either be dismissed, or the sentence to be substantially reduced in plea negotiations.

What is the difference between State and Federal Courts?

Federal court cases are typically investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Customs, Treasury, and other federal agencies. Sometimes state and local agencies also file charges in federal court if the offenses involve major quantity of drugs, weapons or other contraband, or group activity taking place in more than one state. The federal government has more resources to prosecute cases, including special units to prosecute narcotics, fraud, and violent offenses. While the state and local government also have special units, they have fewer prosecutors, with larger case loads. Also, local law enforcement does not have nearly as many resources to complete investigations with as much thoroughness as federal law enforcement. What all this means is that federal cases are very serious and can be difficult and complicated. This is why selecting the right criminal defense lawyer (with federal case experience) is so important.

What is a misdemeanor? And do I need a defense attorney for a misdemeanor crime?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, less serious than a felony, punishable by jail time. Misdemeanors are classified as 1st degree and 2nd degree misdemeanors and are handled in County Court. Petty theft, first-time drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident are some examples of misdemeanor crimes. To ensure that your best interests are followed and your rights are protected, it can greatly benefit you to have a criminal defense lawyer represent you for any criminal charges, including misdemeanors.

What is a felony?

A felony is a serious criminal offense, punishable by a prison term or, in some cases, by death. Felonies are crimes which are more severe than misdemeanors, and felony charges should be taken very seriously. Murder, rape, extortion and kidnapping are some examples of felonies. Felonies are classified as 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree (most severe, capital) felonies. It is in the best interest of the accused to obtain professional legal representation from an experienced defense law firm when facing felony charges.

Do I need a criminal defense lawyer if I have been falsely accused?

Unfortunately, innocent people are sometimes accused of crimes. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you need a qualified and experienced trial lawyer who has handled cases for individuals falsely accused of criminal offenses. Mistakes do happen, and you can’t assume that you will not be accused of doing things you did not do, or that the legal system will ensure that you won’t be falsely convicted. Being falsely accused should not be taken lightly and the consequences can be severe. If you have been falsely accused of a violent offensesexual offensemurdernarcotics possession or any crime, you will need a strong defense strategy from a highly skilled criminal defense attorney.

Is there any possibility of sealing and expunging (cleaning up) my criminal record?

Many times, people are eligible to have their record sealed or expunged. There are a variety of factors that will determine if you are eligible for this service. The most basic requirement is that the case was either dropped or you received a “withhold of adjudication” when you went to court. If you are a convicted felon, you may be eligible for a restoration of civil rights

My drivers license was suspended. What can I do to get it back?

It depends on the reason for suspension. Sometimes all that is required is that the person pays some outstanding tickets. DUI suspensions will require the completion of DUI school and a reinstatement fee. A more serious suspension involves multiple convictions. In those cases, there may be a lengthy waiting period without any driving and then a person can petition for limited driving privileges, or a hardship license, which allows driving for limited purposes such as work, medically necessary appointments and the like. In severe cases driving privileges will be suspended permanently without the possibility of a hardship license. Talk to your defense lawyer to learn more about the specific requirements for getting your license back.

Is there anything I can do (or my family members can do) to help my case?

First and foremost hire an experienced, board certified criminal defense lawyer. Another point to remember is that details are critical to your attorney’s ability to provide you with the best defense. Providing all information to your lawyer – even that which you think may be negative or incriminating – will help your case. In addition, you should only speak to your attorney about your case. Do not to speak to anyone about the crime you are charged with or any aspect of your case.

Legal Rights provided by the Bill of Rights

The “Bill of Rights” of the United States Constitution details the basic rights of citizens under arrest for criminal offenses. The infringement (violations) of these rights can drastically affect the outcome of criminal proceedings, typically in favor of the defendant. Here are just a few protected rights:

  • “No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself (Miranda Warning), nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law . . .” (Fifth Amendment).
  • “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury . . . and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” (Sixth Amendment).
  • “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor shall cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.” (Eighth Amendment).
  • Since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the states have also had to guarantee these rights. This amendment provides that: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States . . .”
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