There is no substitute for a one-on-one, in person consultation with a criminal defense attorney.  Every case is different.  Naturally, if you have been charged with a crime, then you are going to have dozens of very important questions.  The answers to your questions will depend on many different variables.  Without evaluating all of these variables, it is nearly impossible to provide answers to questions about your specific case.  Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive, with answers that are generally applicable to most criminal cases.

Frequently asked questions

Have I been charged with a crime?

When most people think of being “charged” with a crime, they are usually referring to the formal process or being arraigned.  In district court, a criminal complaint issues.  In superior court, the charge will be in the form of an indictment.  Whether you are arraigned on a complaint or an indictment, the process is generally the same.  A court cannot arraign you unless you are physically present.  If you do not recall appearing for an arraignment, but you have been told there is a pending criminal case against you, then you should contact us immediately.  

Can I be charged without being arrested?

An officer does not have to place you under arrest in order to charge you with a crime.  For many non-violent misdemeanors, officers will often give you a citation and inform you that you will soon receive a summons in the mail.  To learn more about how a criminal case can be brought against you, click here.

Will a charge show up on a background check?

This depends on who is conducting the background check.  When people refer to a background check, they are usually talking about a CORI report.  The information that is accessible on your CORI is dependent on number of different factors.  Learn more about CORI reports here.

When is bail set?

Bail is generally set at the arraignment.  

What can I do if my bail is too high?

When a district court judge imposes a high bail, you have a right to have a judge in the superior court review that bail determination.  Petitioning for a bail review in the superior court can be a very effective form of relief.  This does not mean that it is risk free.  A petition for bail review can be best described as a double-edged sword.  The superior court judge may reduce or increase your bail.  They are free to do either.

What if the cops don't read miranda rights?

Many people mistakenly believe that their case can be thrown out if the officer fails to properly mirandize them.  This belief stems from a lack of understanding regarding the purpose of the Miranda rights.  Generally, an officer’s failure to read you Miranda rights only matters if:

(1) you made incriminating statements (or statements that led to the discovery of other incriminating evidence);

(2) while in “custody” (meaning you did not feel “free to leave”); and

(3) those statements were made in response to questions by a police officer or other government actor. 

Can the cops search your car?

The police cannot search your car simply because they have stopped you for some traffic violation.  An officer’s “hunch” that the vehicle contains drugs or weapons is also not enough.  There are specific legal standards we apply in order to determine whether an officer can:

(1) stop a car;

(2) order the driver and passengers out of the vehicle;

(3) conduct a pat frisk of the driver and passengers;

(4) search the interior of the car; or

(5) search the trunk and other locked compartments.

If the police ask to search your vehicle, it means they do not believe that have the legal authority to do so.  If they did, they would not be asking.  Declining to allow the police to search your vehicle cannot serve as a reason for them to search it.

Are cops allowed to search you?

The police can approach you and ask whether you are carrying weapons or drugs.  This does NOT mean you have to answer them.  Unless officers have reason to believe that you have committed/are committing a crime, then they may not legally stop you.  It is perfectly fine for you to have a consensual interaction with the police, but if you do not want to speak to an officer, then you are well within your rights to walk away.

Will my charges be dropped?

There are many reasons that a prosecutor may decide to dismiss your case.  These reasons are always specific to the circumstances of each individual case.  Contact us today and we will walk you through each and every scenario that applies to your case.

Can I be charged with a DUI if I wasn't driving?

The short answer is yes.  As long as the officer alleges facts that establish probable cause to believe that you were driving, then you can be charged.  The good news is, the prosecution will need much more than that to convict you.  An essential element of the prosecutor’s case is proving that you were in fact driving the vehicle.  This must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Do I have to speak to the cops?

Whether you speak to the police is entirely up to you.  Some people believe that if they do not answer a police officer’s questions, that it makes them look guilty.  This should not be a concern of yours.  Generally speaking, remaining silent cannot be used against you.  If the police are asking you questions, and you think they are going to arrest you, then it is very unlikely that you are going to talk your way out of that situation.  The most intelligent thing you can do at this point is remain silent.  Remember, you have the RIGHT to remain silent.

Can the cops ask for your ID?

The police cannot just ask you to present identification.  This is true even if you are a passenger in a car that is lawfully stopped.  Unless officers have a reason to believe that you have committed/are committing/or are about to commit a crime, then they cannot demand you to identify yourself.  

Can the cops take your money?

Generally, the police can take your money anytime you are charged with distributing a controlled substance.  Whether they get to keep your money is a different question.  If they are charging you with mere possession of a controlled substance, then they cannot lawfully seize your money.  This is why the police tend to favor charging people with distribution as opposed to simple possession.  Even if your distribution case is dismissed, or you beat it at trial, the court may still order forfeiture of the money.  When your money is forfeited, half of it goes to the police, and the other half goes to the District Attorney’s Office.

Can the cops take your car?

If you are placed under arrest after being pulled over, it does not mean the police can automatically tow your car.  

Can the cops track your phone?

The police cannot monitor the content of your cellular communications without obtaining a warrant.  Location data is not as protected as text messages.  In order to record your conversations, the government must get a warrant and comply with the wiretap statute

Can undercover cops buy drugs?

While it is unlawful for anyone to purchase illegal narcotics, police are allowed to make so-called “controlled buys” if it’s within the scope of their employment.

Will the court give me a lawyer?

In order to determine whether you are eligible for a court-appointed lawyer, you must first complete an intake with the Probation Department.  Once you have done so, a determination will be made as to whether you are indigent, indigent but able to contribute, or not eligible for a court appointed lawyer.

Will the judge drug test me?

You cannot be forced to submit to a drug test.  While there may be consequences for failing to do so, the consequences will depend on the circumstances of your case.  If you are on probation, and a condition of probation is to submit to random urinalysis screening, then failure to take the test may result in a probation violation.  If you are still in the pretrial stage of your case, then the court has far less of an ability to compel you to take a urinalysis test.

Is it against the law to hit a girl?

It is unlawful to hit anyone unless you are legally justified in doing so.  The most common justifications are in self defense situations, or when you are defending a third party.  If you are legally justified in using self defense, then the gender of your attacker is irrelevant.