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Criminal Law

HAVE YOU BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME?

 

Whether you have been charged with a crime in municipal court or a state court, the first thing you must to is to not discuss the case with anyone except your attorney.  Whoever, you discuss the case with (except your attorney) becomes a witness and can be called to testify about what you told that person.   When you meet with your attorney for the first time, let the attorney determine the direction of the conversation.  Most attorneys will not ask you if you “did the crime.”  The attorney wants to elicit facts from other sources first to determine how strong the prosecutor’s case is against you.

 

Before a criminal case is filed against you, you may be contacted by a police offer or detective trying to get your side of the incident.  Typically, the officer or detective has already concluded that you are guilty.  Their goal is to get you to admit to the crime.  Any attorney who has experience in criminal cases will advise you to not speak with the police officer or detective.  If you feel you must speak with the officer, then you should do so only with your attorney present and let your attorney dictate the ground rules of the interview.

 

Before you are charged with a crime you can be arrested and held for a period of time before you have to be released unless you are charged during that period.  You will typically be interrogated during that period of time.  The law enforcement officer will sometimes tell you that they will go easier on you if you just tell the truth and confess to the crime.  Your job is to be patient and invoke your Fifth Amendment rights.  Remember however, even if you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, if you keep talking afterwards, what you say can still be used against you in some cases.

 

If you are charged with a crime, you may have to post bond, depending on the severity of the charge.  Many times, the amount of the bond can be reduced or a judge can release you on your own recognizance (signature bond).  If you have to post a bond It is preferable that you post a cash bond if possible as that money sits in the Court’s registry and can be refunded to you at the end of the case or used to pay fines, restitution, etc…   If you have to use a bonding company, then you typically pay the bondsman a fee (perhaps 20% of the amount of the bond) to post your bond. That fee is not refundable to you.  That is the cost you pay the bondsman to get you out of jail.