I've been served with a Grand Jury Subpoena to appear at the courthouse. What does this mean?
What does it mean when my attorney says he will file Motions?
If I go to trial, should I testify?
I have decided to go to trial. How will the jury be selected?
How will I decide if I should go to trial or accept a plea bargain?
What exactly is white collar crime?
What does it mean to be charged with "Conspiracy" to commit a crime?
What will happen if I decide to accept a Plea Bargain?
What are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?
What is Discovery?
If I'm charged with a crime, but the charges are dropped, will this show up on my criminal record?
What is a Plea Bargain?
I'm facing criminal charges. Can I talk to my friends and family about the case?
I'M FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES. CAN I TALK TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT THE CASE? December 1, 2015 Law Offices of Barry M. Wax
You know after someone's been arrested and charged with a crime they're so uncertain about what's going to happen and many times the best things that people can do is talk about it with their friends and their families. It's not a bad thing to do because emotionally it helps you but from a perspective of being able to defend your case it can actually hurt you.
You know, when we talk to our friends and family we don't really know what's going to happen to us and they don't know what's going to happen so the advise that they give you may actually be wrong or it may be counterproductive to your dealing with the situation in an effective and constructive manner.
I always recommend to my clients that when they're charged with a crime the only person that they talk with it about is their attorney and there's a lot of reasons for this. Your attorney knows what you're experiencing and your attorney can give you the right answers to help you deal with all of the issues that present themselves and that's' the most important thing because what you need to do is be fully informed and you can only do that by asking the right questions, making the right choices and listening to the advice that you receive from your attorney and that's how I would handle it.
I don't think I've done anything wrong. Why shouldn't I talk to the police and explain it to them?
So the police have come to your house or your place of business and they're telling you that they're going to arrest you and charge you with a crime and you're saying to yourself wait a second, I haven't done anything wrong, maybe I should tell them what happened, maybe I should explain myself and they're going to see it my way and that way they're not going to arrest me.
And you know something, maybe that's true! It's possible that you can talk your way out of an arrest but 999 times out of 1000 that's not going to happen. Understand that by the time the police come to your home or your place of business to arrest you they've already made up their mind that they have sufficient evidence; what we call probable cause and their goal at that point is to get a statement from you which is incriminating; what you know as a confession.
When you're talking to the police and you believe that you're explaining yourself or defending yourself they're seeing it completely different. Now, one of the best ways that you can protect yourself if you do want to explain yourself is to have a criminal defense attorney with you. Before you go speak to the police and explain yourself your attorney can thoroughly review your case and the facts with you because there may be something that happened that you don't know implicates you in a crime and if you make that statement without the protection of an attorney to the police, well, that could make things worse for you rather than a lot better.
There are many other things that an experienced criminal defense attorney can do for you to present your case to both the police and the prosecution much more effectively than you can and if, in fact, you were falsely accused then more than likely you're going to get the result that you're looking for.
What will happen to me if I get arrested?
You know being arrested is something that happens in virtually every criminal case. Now, typically the police will come to your home, your place of business or they may encounter you on the street where the crime has occurred. At that time, you'll be taken into custody and what that means is you're going to be handcuffed, you're going to be put into a police car and you're going to be taken either to a police station or to a jail.
Once you get to the destination you're going to be processed, what you know as the term booked. You're going to be fingerprinted, you're going to be photographed and all of your personal information, name, address, date of birth, place of employment are all going to be taken by the police. Don't resist this process; there's nothing about it that's going to be used against you in court.
After you receive all of this information and all of these things have happened to you then the questions going to be whether or not you qualify for bail. Now, in the State Court system you can get bail as a matter of right in about 95% of all crimes and you'll be able to bond out of jail, maybe even before you go see the judge. However, it may be necessary for you to be taken in front of the judge the next day and if that happens the judge is going to tell you what you've been charged with, they're going to find out if you can afford an attorney, if you can't afford an attorney they're going to appoint an attorney to represent you and then they're going to take up the issue of bail; that is the terms of your release from custody. That's what happens to you in State Court.
In Federal Court it's mostly the same but there are some slight differences. If you're arrested in federal court you're going to have to be taken before a judge before you can be released but with that exception it's typically the same. The process is something that has to happen and the best thing that you can do is just get through the process as smoothly as possible.
I've been falsely accused of domestic violence. How can I clear my name?
You know, domestic violence is one of the hot topics in the news these days, we see it happen to everyone from celebrities to athletes to professionals and many times individuals are falsely accused of domestic violence, in fact, it happens quite frequently in the context of divorce cases or child custody matters.
If you believe that you've been falsely accused of domestic violence the most important thing that you can do is not make it any worse. Yes, you're upset, yes you're embarrassed, yes, you've probably been to jail and yes you've probably been told that you have to stay away from the individual who accused you of domestic violence and this can result in tumultuous emotions but be careful at this time; don't let your emotions run away with you and don't make bad choices that are only going to make the situation worse.
What's important for you to do right now is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area that knows the law and knows the courtroom procedure.
If you've been falsely accused more than likely it's going to come to the surface and the case is going to be dismissed but that's up to you because you have to make the right choices.
I refused to take a breathalyzer test and now I'm being charged with a DUI. What are my options?
One of the most powerful pieces of evidence that the prosecution acquires during the course of a DUI arrest is a breath test. This test measures your blood alcohol content as a result of the breath sample that you give to the police and it is a very sophisticated test.
However, in many cases, individuals refuse to take the breath test. Now, in the short-term this typically results in an immediate suspension of your driver's license but in the long-run what this does is deprive the prosecution of a powerful piece of evidence, namely your blood alcohol content if, in fact, it's over the legal limit. Without this powerful piece of evidence many times the prosecution has to decide whether or not they can still bring a case against the individual for DUI.
What are your options? Well, typically in a DUI case your options are to accept a plea, a plea offer to DUI or to proceed to trial with all of the dangers and stress inherent in a trial.
Your best option though is to go to an experienced criminal defense attorney to talk about your case. You know, the breath test is just one aspect of a DUI case and it's not the be all and end all but you do need to be informed so make sure that when you do consult with experienced criminal defense council about your DUI case that you do ask the right questions so that you give yourself the information that you need to make the right choices.
I'm a witness in a white collar investigation. Do I need a lawyer?
So you're a witness in a white collar criminal investigation and you're wondering whether or not you need an attorney and that's a very, very valid question. Most of the time witnesses are not the target of the investigation and, in fact, have done nothing wrong.
All the witness is, is someone who can provide facts, information or documents to assist the prosecution in the presentation of their case.
But being a witness sometimes can have pitfalls. Many times acts which we believe are innocent when committed can implicate us in a crime particularly if it's a federal case and the government is charging a conspiracy.
Many times as a witness you want to make sure that you've done nothing wrong and so it's always a good idea to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help shepherd you through this process.
You've done nothing wrong and there's no reason to believe that anything bad is going to happen to you but sometimes it's like the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Will I be held in jail during my case?
WILL I BE HELD IN JAIL DURING MY CASE? June 1, 2015 Law Offices of Barry M. Wax
The issue of whether or not an individual who's been charged with a crime will be held in jail during the time that their case is going on is probably the most important consideration that occurs at the beginning of the case. When someone is charged with a crime they're arrested and taken to jail.
Typically the issue of bond comes up immediately. The law requires that you be brought before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. During that hearing in front of the judge the issue of bail is considered.
Now, most crimes are bailable as a matter of right; for instance, if you're charged with possession of cocaine or burglary or a minor charge, you're going to be able to post a bail but if you're charged with a serious offense, one that's typically punishable by ten years or more in prison or involves violence it's quite possible that the prosecution is going to ask the court to hold the defendant pending the outcome of their case because they believe that that person presents either a risk of flight or a danger to the community.
A risk of flight basically means that if you're released from jail they believe that you will not return, you'll become a fugitive. A danger to the community means that if you're released from jail you're likely to commit other crimes. Now the court has to make this determination and the burden on the government for justifying a pretrial detention is very high. The only way to properly meet this situation is to have an experienced attorney on your side in court arguing for your release and if that attorney is effective more than likely you're going to be admitted to bond during the pendency of your case.
What is the difference between Federal Court and State Court?
When someone is being prosecuted for a crime they can be charged in either Federal Court or State Court. State Court is when you're charged by the state authorities typically in the state where the crime was committed; for instance, State of Florida vs. Joe Defendant. State of California vs. Jane Doe. That's when you're being charged in a state court.
However, in a federal court it's the United States of America vs. Joe Defendant or the United States vs. Jane Doe. Every state has its own court system and both the laws and the court room procedure can change or vary from state to state.
When it comes to the United States court, however, typically the laws are the same in all of the 50 states and United States territories; also the courtroom procedure is very similar, there may be differences in local rules but for the most part it's the same type of practice.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is at home in any courtroom, anywhere in the country, State or Federal no matter what the charge; that's the important distinction, not whether you're charged in State or Federal Court but whether or not you're in the hands of an experienced attorney to guide you through the process.
Remember, the stakes can be very high no matter where you're charged with a crime and the outcome can affect you for the rest of your life.
I've just been charged with a crime. What do I do?
You've just been charged with a crime. This is one of the most difficult experiences that you may ever have to endure in your life. You've been through the process of being arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted, photographed and being released from custody now it's time for you to take control of this situation.
The only way for you to take control of this situation is to consult with an experienced effective criminal defense attorney. The period of time immediately after you've been arrested can be on the most crucial parts of your case. An effective criminal defense attorney can communicate with the prosecution; try to persuade them not to file charges, to file lesser charges or to take a course of action which is most favorable to you.
Most importantly, don't wait around until your next court date and do nothing because at this point in time you'll be losing the opportunity to affect the course of your future. Hire and experienced criminal defense attorney and that starts with making a phone call and setting up an appointment.
Ask the questions that matter to you; what's going to happen to me? What's the process like? What kind of outcome can I expect? Only when you do those things will you be asking the right questions to enable you to make the right choices and regain control of your life.
How can I avoid incriminating myself and making my situation worse during a criminal investigation?
One of the most difficult things that happens during criminal investigations is that the person who's the target of the investigation which may in fact be you, a loved one or a friend wants to talk to the police because our human nature is that we want to defend ourselves, we want to explain ourselves and in some situations that can be very effective but in a criminal investigation typically it's not as effective.
Remember that the police are there and they're gathering evidence and that evidence is to be used against someone in a criminal prosecution. Many times when you say something that you think is helpful to you it can actually be to the contrary and it's not just the words that you speak, it's the way that you speak them; it's your tone of voice, it's your body language because police are trained interrogators and they know how to examine things from many different perspectives and several different dimensions.
So when you think that you're saying something to the police that might help you, you could actually be incriminating yourself. The best thing to do, let the police do their job and remain silent.
What does it mean to invoke my Miranda rights?
You know, so many times we've heard this Miranda rights concept in our lives. Many times when you're watching a television show and someone's getting arrested the first thing that you do is hear them say, "I know my Miranda rights."
Or you might see a police officer who's being portrayed by an actor start saying to the subject or the person that's being arrested, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you and then usually they cut to the next scene. Well, those are your Miranda rights.
Many, many years ago the United States Supreme Court decided that before anyone who gave a statement that hurt them that actually incriminated them in a crime, before that statement could be used against them in court they had to be read their Miranda rights and your Miranda rights are there to protect you. Whenever you're in custody for a crime, and that means that the police are holding you and you're not free to leave, if the police want to question you they have to read you those rights and very simply they are; you have the right to remain silent, anything that you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford an attorney one will be provided to you. You have the right to have your attorney with you at all times before and during questioning and if during the course of time when you're being questioned you want to stop the questioning at any time you're free to do so.
So are essentially your Miranda rights. If the police read them to you properly then anything that you say can be used against you but if they don't read you your Miranda rights well, then there's going to be a lot of questions about whether or not your statements can be admissible against you as evidence.
The police want to search my home or other property Should I let them?
So the police want to search your home or your car or your place of business and you're wondering whether or not you should let them. Understand that one of the most basic constitutional rights that we all have is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is embodied in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Florida Constitution and the constitution of every other state in our country.
This right is so sacred that the police cannot enter your home unless they have a search warrant or they get your consent to search. In order for police to get a search warrant to go into your home, your car or your place of business they have to apply for one with a judge and that's a process that the police many times don't want to go into. First it takes quite a few hours and second they may not have sufficient evidence to allow them to get that permission from a judge and get a search warrant.
Many times what the police try to do is get you to consent to search. The police are trained in obtaining that consent from you. They may tell you things that are very scary and very upsetting to you in an effort to get you to acquiesce and agree and allow them to come into your home or your place of business or even your car.
My advice to you is do not consent to search. If the police have justification and sufficient cause, tell them that they need to go get a search warrant from a judge. Many times that will get them to go away. Other times they may very well go to a judge and ask for that search warrant but either way you know that your constitutional rights have been protected and you've made the right decision.
I am under investigation for a crime What should I do?
If you're under investigation for a crime the most important thing is to protect your rights. It's best not to talk to the police or any law enforcement agencies without having an experienced attorney on your side.
You may not realize it but things that you say that you believe might help you can actually hurt you. When the police show up at your house and say that they want to talk with you tell them that you'll be more than willing to cooperate but that you prefer to have your attorney with you. Ask the police officer for a business card, a name, a contact phone number and let them know that your attorney will be contacting them within the next 24 hours that way you know that your rights will be protected and nothing that you say will be used against you improperly.
It's most important for you to protect yourself at all times and the only way that you can do that is with an experienced attorney by your side.
I think a warrant is about to be issued for my arrest What should I do?
So you think that a warrant is about to be issued for your arrest, that means that you have some information that may or may not be true. At this point there's not much that you can do as an individual. If you were to call the police and ask them if there's going to be a warrant issued for your arrest, more than likely they won't give you an answer and if in fact they do want to arrest you you'll probably tell you to come down to the police station so that they can meet you and talk about it.
If you do that and you're suspicions are correct then more than likely you will be arrested and you will be taken to jail, now that's an ordeal that you'd like to avoid. However, if your suspicions are such that you feel very strongly that this is going to happen to you, what you should do is you should contact and experienced criminal defense attorney.
After meeting with him or her you can then understand the steps that need to be taken to protect you. Your attorney can contact the police, find out what's going on, perhaps even determine if an arrest warrant is going to be issued and if appropriate arrange for you to voluntarily surrender at the police station at a time and place that's mutually acceptable to you and to the police that way you'll be able to avoid the embarrassment and the indignity of possibly being arrested in front of your family, your friends or your business associates.
The FBI wants to ask me questions about possible financial crimes Should I cooperate?
So the FBI has showed up at your home or place of business and want to ask you questions and you're wondering should I cooperate with them, should I answer their questions? And these are valid points that you need to examine very, very closely.
Now, talking to the FBI may or may not be in your best interest but you're not going to know the answer to that question until you've had the opportunity to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
When the FBI show up to question you very rarely do they tell you what their ultimate goal is. You don't know if they're interested in you, someone you know or if they're just there to talk with you as a witness but if you consult with a criminal defense attorney they can contact the FBI agent, talk to them and find out why they came to question you.
So, the best thing that you can do is to tell the FBI agents that you're more than happy to cooperate with them but you would feel more comfortable if you had an attorney with you.
Get the FBI agent's name, business card and telephone number. Typically they're very professional and they'll be more than happy to talk with an attorney on your behalf. Once you do that contact an attorney, schedule a consultation and ask them important questions; number one, why did the FBI come to visit me in the first place and number two, can you help me through this process?
I'm being charged with financial crimes. What's going to happen now?
So you've been charged with financial crimes and you're wondering what might happen to you now? Well, initially you're going to have to surrender if you haven't already been arrested so that you can be processed into the system and that involves the things that you'd expect like being fingerprinted and photographed and going in front of a judge to determine whether or not you can be released from custody but beyond that there's some other significant consequences.
The first thing is in the event of financial crimes many times you can find that your bank accounts have been frozen or that property that you own has had a lien entered against it or even seized by the government.
At this point in time what you need is the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you through this maze. It can be very, very difficult to be charged with a crime but that is only compounded when your financial ability to support yourself and provide for your family is also compromised.