We are here to help you. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Should I hire a lawyer for small misdemeanor charges?
While dealing with the law in any facet, whether it be anything in court defending yourself or negotiating a business contract, having a lawyer beside you makes a better outcome always. Even if you are charged for as minor as underaged drinking or simple drug possession, it is always better to hire an attorney on your side to protect you or find a way to help you out.
What if I did not do anything wrong, should I be worried?
The answer is Yes, it is because you need to worry about the charges you are facing. Relying on the fact that you FEEL or only you know you are NOT guilty will place you in the most difficult situation.
Legal system in our country is far from being perfect. People who are innocent do also get convicted sometimes. It is so common to hear of a person being released after been incarcerated for years. The fact that the person is innocent of the charges alleged against him/her should never lead to the conclusion that they don’t need the very best legal defense.
So, you will need a lawyer.
Should you resist an arrest if you are innocent?
The simple answer to this is Do Not Resist. Whether you are getting arrested is unfair, unjust or unlawful that will be determined in the court of law. Resisting an arrest may result in a far serious charges and may even result in getting hurt yourself. It is advisable to keep your hands visible, do not put them into your pocket or try to hide, and never approach any officer unless you have been asked to do so.
Are police officers allowed to search my car when I get pulled over?
Yes and no. According to the fourteenth amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, which means agents of the law such as police do not have the authority to search your personal property such as, your house or your car whenever they feel like it. The police officer must first obtain probable cause beyond a reasonable doubt that you are involved in some kind of criminal activity or are a part of it. For example, if you get pulled over in a traffic stop, the officer can’t just ask you to step out of the car and conduct a search without any consent, probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge is needed. Though in some cases if the police detect evidence of a crime such as the odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle, or if they find drug paraphernalia in the car then according to law they have permission to search the vehicle and conduct a criminal investigation.
Do I Have To Allow Police Into My Home?
When police officers are conducting an investigation, they may also want to come into your home to look through your things to find any evidence that if you are guilty that can be used to prove it. You do not have to allow them to enter or search unless they have a valid search warrant. Even when they try to be friendly with you, you can ask them to wait while you call your lawyer.
Can Police Officers Use Force to Arrest Me?
A police officer can use as much force as necessary for criminal arrest, as long as it is reasonable and lawful. After arrest is made, the police officer can apply handcuffs to a defendant if he/she thinks that is necessary to prevent injury or escape. If the defendant claims unlawful application of force which was used by the arresting officer, the judge will hear the defendant’s argument and decide whether the force used was reasonable for the circumstances when the defendant was getting arrested.
If I get offered a plea bargain, should I take it?
Any offering or plea bargaining offered should be evaluated carefully with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, this will ensure that your rights have been protected and you understand the short term and long term consequences of the plea.
When Should I Contact An Attorney?
If you already know that you are under investigation, never wait to speak to an attorney. If you think that the police may be investigating you or are going to charge you with a crime, an experienced and professional criminal attorney can call up the police or local detectives and get information for you to help you way out. The lawyer will be able to start investigate the case as soon as possible and may secure important evidence that will be helpful to your defense.
Should I support search warrant?
A search warrant is a warrant issued by an competent authority by authorizing a police officer to search a specified place to search for evidence even without the occupant’s consent. A search warrant is usually required for a Fourth Amendment search, subject to a few exceptions. However, it is not applicable if the Judge who issued the warrant was mislead by the information in the affidavit and/or the affidavit was lacking in probable cause that no reasonable law enforcement officer could believe it was valid.
What are my rights if I get under arrest?
People who get under arrest retain a set of rights which are known as Miranda rights. These rights include:
- The right to remain silent. Which means that you do not need to answer any questions from police or investigators if you wish not to answer without your attorney present. This right is helpful to prevent you from incriminating yourself.
- The right to an attorney. You are usually allowed to contact your attorney after you have been booked by the police for any of the crime charge.
- The right to a public defender. If you unable to afford a lawyer, you have the right to get an attorney for yourself by the court.
What happens after you have been arrested?
After a person has been arrested, he/she will be “booked” at the police department. During this process, the police will ask you about your basic information such as your address and date of birth, your identifiers and may also get your fingerprint and photograph. You may also be asked to provide handwriting sample for further investigation.
As long as questions asked are somehow related to your stay while in jail, it will be considered as a routine booking questions. As soon as the questions start to involve reason for your arrest, then the questioning becomes a “custodial interrogation.” Now a custodial interrogation is where you are questioned after you are arrested and are still in the custody of the police. Before this interrogation you can be questioned while in custody, the police must read you a set of “Miranda Warnings.”
What Happens After Booking?
After getting booked, you will be held under custody until you are arraigned. Arraignment is the first court appearance of the defendant’s. This hearing will generally take place within 48 hours. At arraignment the judge goes through the charges against the defendant, and asks the defendant how would he/she like to plea. A defendant can enter plea of “not guilty”, of “no contest”, or of “guilty”.
The bail is set within the court’s rules and regulations and also depends on case-by-case basis. In most of the cases the bail bond is set on the day of the arraignment or sometimes also before the arraignment. In some cases, the court may also release a defendant without bail, this is called an “Own recognizance release” if the court find the person not guilty or no evident proof is placed in front of the court.
What is the difference between Jail and Prison?
Basic difference between Jail and Prison
- JAIL : Jails are local facilities under the jurisdiction of a city, local district or county. Jails are the short-term holding facilities for newly arrested and for those awaiting trial or sentencing. Those who are sentenced to serve a small amount of time which is less than a year may be locked in the local jail for the duration of their sentence.
- PRISON : Prisons are the institutional facilities under the jurisdiction of the state or federal government. Here convicted offenders serve longer period of time. People who are found guilty of breaking a state law are generally sent to a state prison. Those who violate federal laws are usually sent to federal prison located somewhere in U.S. Some states have jails and prisons which are privately operated by any kind of corporation.
What is Bail?
Bail is basically money or other property that is deposited with the court in order to ensure the person accused will return to court when he or she is required to do so as per the court. However, if the defendant does not make to the court when required, or violates his or her bail conditions agreed on, the bail will be forfeited to the court and will not be returned next time.
If I plan on pleading guilty, do I still need a lawyer?
Believe me or not it is advisable to have a lawyer because it is critical to make a proper decision about the disposition of a criminal case, even if you intend to plead guilty.
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
A Preliminary Hearing is a standard proceeding conducted for almost all cases in Nevada. It is where State tries to pursue the Judge that they have enough reason to press charges and/or keep you in jail while awaiting trial. Preliminary Hearings are usually successful because they allow the defense to search possible space of inconsistencies in witness accounts, lock in testimony and evaluate credibility. This may help to result in more favorable offers to negotiate cases after bringing out weaknesses of the State’s case and/or evidence, allowing the filing of a motion to dismiss the case or suppress the evidence because of legal and/or statutory violations.
What does a prosecutor do?
A prosecutor is the one who represents the local, state or federal government to bring people who are accused of crimes to justice. A prosecutor may also be called as a district attorney, county attorney, state attorney or United States attorney. He or she is charged with the duty of punishing those who has violate state or federal laws.
Can I change my criminal defense lawyers if I am not happy with the one representing me currently?
Yes, our Federal and State constitutions provide the criminal defendant with the right of representation by counsel, which has been interpreted by the courts to allow an individual an ability to hire any attorney they choose for representing their side. This right is not given to an individual, who is not hiring an attorney, but using a court appointed lawyer. If the person is not happy with the attorney they have hired, the person should seek a new attorney as soon as possible in the process of legal representation, because one of the few base on which a court can deny the request to change attorneys is when there is insufficient time for the new lawyer to be prepared for trial.
It is important that the attorney hired understands the case and the individual circumstances as well as the law and procedures which the case involves, for example, if the person is an immigrant or not a US citizen it is very important that the attorney has a strong understanding of the immigration law as well as criminal law.
Are illegal drugs treated the same when it refers to punishment?
No, the punishment for different types of drug are different. There are classifications made for different types of drugs based on the drugs scheduling. The offense level is determined by the classification of the illegal substance that the dealer was arrested with. For higher classification drugs, the sentencing can be quite severe and punishment can be longer prison time but at the same time for some lower classification the sentencing may not even require jail time in some states.
Do you offer free consultation?
Your first consultation is always free and you will be meeting directly with attorney Gary A. Modafferi. Our firm offers straightforward advice, nonjudgmental support and aggressive legal representation. All clients can contact us by calling on 702-327-3033. You can also contact us online to schedule a consultation.