Criminal Law FAQ

What happens if I am arrested?

If you are arrested for breaking a criminal law, you may be issued a tab charge or a Summons and Complaint. Either way, you will be given a court date and be arraigned. The court may set bail depending on the crime you are charged with. If the defendant cannot post the bond he may be incarcerated pending appearance in court. If bond is posted, he will remain free pending appearance at an arraignment. During the arraignment the defendant is formally told what offense he is charged with, told their constitutional rights, and of the possible penalties. It is important that you seek legal representation as quickly as possible.

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is an order issued by a judge that authorizes police officers to conduct a search of a specific location. Before a search warrant may be issued, there must be a showing of probable cause. Often, search warrants can be contested in court and should be carefully reviewed by your attorney.

If a police officer knocks on my door and asks to search my home, do I have to let the officer in?

Unless the officer has a warrant, you are under no legal obligation to let the officer search your residence.

What if I agree to the search?

If you voluntarily consent to a search of your home, automobile, or person, than the officer can conduct a full search without a warrant. Anything that the officer finds can later be used against you in court. Although you may think it is in your best interest to cooperate with police, it can have a negative effect on your criminal case. Therefore, unless the police has a warrant, you should not give consent nor should you give a statement without the presence of an attorney.

If I am arrested, can the officer search me?

Yes. Police officers do not need a warrant to conduct a search after making an arrest. After making an arrest, the officer can legally search the person being arrested and the area in the immediate control of the person.

If I am stopped by an officer for a traffic violation should I participate in field sobriety tests?

No, unless you have not consumed alcohol or illegal substances. Police officers use the results of the field sobriety tests to prove their case in drunk driving cases.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

DUI is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even if your blood alcohol reading is below a .10, you can still be charged with DUI if they believe your driving ability was impaired.

DWI with a blood alcohol concentration over .10 within 2 hours of driving means that when you took the Intoxylizer test, your reading was over the legal limit.

When can the State forfeit my vehicle?

When a motor vehicle is used in the commission of a crime. For example, solicitation of a prostitute, drug charges, DWI’s. There are strict time lines when you must respond to the forfeiture notice otherwise you may waive your right forever to contest the forfeiture proceeding.

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