Below are some frequently asked questions that clients have after they are arrested for a crime.
Am I going to go to Jail?
Punishment in typically up to the sentencing judge’s discretion and is dependent on two things: the severity of the crime and prior criminal record. Sentences can range from a fine and/or probation for simple misdemeanors to state prison time for serious felonies. Some charges carry mandatory sentences in which a judge has no discretion and is be required to impose incarceration that is set by the law. Intermediate punishment such as Work Release or House Arrest is determined by the sentencing judge.
I have never been arrested before - what is going to happen to me?
If this is a first offense, and the crime is a non-violent misdemeanor, an individual may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, known as ARD. If ARD is approved by the District Attorney, the individual does not have to plead guilty, is not convicted of a crime, and the charges are eventually dismissed after payment of fines and successful completion of a probationary period. Admission into the ARD program is determined solely by the District Attorney and if approved, your arrest record can be expunged once the program is completed.
Contrary to popular belief, Miranda warnings are not required when someone is arrested. Miranda warnings are needed when an individual is in custody (not free to leave) and is asked a question by police, to which the answer could incriminate the individual. If you answered incriminating questions and Miranda warnings were not given, you could file a Motion to Suppress Evidence to have your statements thrown out of court. The case will not be dismissed for lack of Miranda warnings, but any incriminating statements could be suppressed.
If the police did not have probable cause to stop and/or search you, a Motion to Suppress Evidence should be filed in the Court of Common Pleas. At this hearing, the police must prove to a Judge that the stop or search was valid. If the judge rules that the stop or search was unconstitutional, then all of the evidence of the case is suppressed and the case is dismissed.
If I am convicted, can my record be expunged?
In Pennsylvania, the law states that a conviction cannot be expunged by a Judge until the individual turns 70 years of age. The only way to remove a criminal record is to receive either a governor’s or presidential pardon.
It is important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.