- Can I represent myself in a criminal case?
- Do I need to hire an attorney if I plan on pleading guilty?
- What are my rights?
- I am being investigated for a crime. What do I do?
- What happens after an arrest?
- If I am arrested, should I speak with a police officer?
- Is there a difference between misdemeanors and felonies?
- Do I need a lawyer at my arraignment?
- Will my case go to trial?
- What is the difference between a dismissal and an expungement/sealing?
- What type of crimes does your firm handle?
- State v. Federal Court: What is the difference in criminal defense issues?
- What do I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?
- What defenses do I have for criminal charges?
1. Can I represent myself in a criminal case?
Yes. You have a Constitutional right to represent yourself. However, there is a saying in the legal business attributed to A. Lincoln: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” A person representing themselves cannot provide a truly dispassionate and removed analysis of the case. The attorney will provide analysis based on years of training and experience.
2. Do I need to hire an attorney if I plan on pleading guilty?
Even in pleading guilty, the sentences may vary greatly and the future impacts on one’s life can be substantial. In pleading guilty, a person may be giving up important or fundamental Constitutional rights.
3. What are my rights?
You have the right to an attorney or a Public Defender if you qualify. You have the right to testify on your own behalf or remain silent. If you choose not to testify, your silence cannot be held against you. You have the right to a jury trial or trial by the Court. You have the right to a speedy trial. (In Colorado, that is within six months). You have the right to have the prosecution prove each element of each offense beyond a reasonable doubt. You have a right to subpoena witnesses to appear on your behalf at any trial or proceeding. You have the right to cross-examine any witnesses called by the prosecution. You have a right to the presumption of innocence until you have been adjudicated guilty or pled same. Finally, you have the right to appeal your conviction to a higher court.
5. What happens after an arrest?
After an arrest, you have a right to a bond in all cases with the exception of capital offenses. Some charges may require you appear before a judge prior to setting bond. This means you may be held in jail for several days prior to securing a release on bond.
6. If I am arrested, should I speak with a police officer?
The short answer is no. (See “I am being investigated for a crime.”) There may be circumstances when it is to your advantage to speak to the officer, but it is always advised to consult an attorney. Information that you believe is to your benefit may ultimately be used against you in a court of law.
7. Is there a difference between misdemeanors and felonies?
Yes. Misdemeanors are lower level offenses which may carry lesser periods of time in jail and may have a detrimental impact on job futures. Felonies are more serious offenses which may carry prison sentences and impact future job opportunities and/or security clearances, not to mention the right to carry/own a firearm.
8. Do I need a lawyer at my arraignment?
Typically, arraignment is the time when the Court will set your matter for future proceedings. So, although your case will not be finally decided at your arraignment, it is to your advantage to have your lawyer on board so they may advise you regarding each step of the process.
10. What is the difference between a dismissal and an expungement/sealing?
A dismissal means your charges have been dropped. However, even if this is the case, your record will still reflect the initial criminal charges. Expungement (juvenile) or Sealing (Adult matters) is a way to limit public access to the original charges themselves.
12. State v. Federal Court: What is the difference in criminal defense issues?
While the nature of your offenses may be the same, the procedures and the sentencing guidelines may be extremely different. It is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the Federal system in handling your Federal matter.
14. What defenses do I have for criminal charges?
The most common defenses include: self-defense or defense of others, voluntary or involuntary intoxications, general denial, alibi, duress, entrapment, consent, choice of evils (that is, you needed to commit the crime to avoid a greater evil with no other viable alternatives), or insanity. Consult an attorney for other possible defenses in your matter.