This guide offers the most important information for anyone accused of a crime.
Time is of the essence the moment you suspect you may be accused of a crime. Make contact with our office immediately by any means available - phone, email, in person, etc.
Do not speak to anyone, especially any agent of the police regarding the circumstances that have occurred. Speak to your attorney before speaking to anyone else. This is the only way to insure you exercise your constitutional rights against self-incrimination and right to counsel. Only communications between you and your attorney will be privileged, meaning these statements generally cannot be used against you in a court of law. Visits and calls to other persons, including bondsmen, family members or other inmates may be overheard by jail authorities.
If you or a family member are in custody, you will need to know the following:
- Charges against you
- Bail amount, if any
- Location where you are housed
Your Miranda Rights
The following are your Miranda Rights:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to speak to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
- Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
Even after you are arrested and read your Miranda Rights or given a form to sign, you should still request to exercise your right to not make any statements or answer any questions, no matter how minor, without your attorney present. Do not say or write anything. THIS APPLIES NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE PROMISED OR ADVISED BY ANY POLICE PERSONNEL.
The Legal Process
An arrest without a warrant that results in a court appearance usually lasts 48 hours, not counting weekends and holidays. For example if you are arrested on a Friday, your first court date will most likely not be scheduled until Tuesday. Any holidays would increase the delay between your arrest and your first court date.
Your first court date will most likely be an arraignment. This is where you are officially informed of the nature of your charges and given a copy of the complaint against you. You are then given the opportunity to enter a plea. Depending on whether the case is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, the court date to follow will be either a pre-trial hearing for preparation of trial or a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go on to trial. If the case is not resolved by this point, ultimately a trial will begin.
Representation by an attorney is vital at any of these court dates if you are to ensure that your rights are protected.
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