What to do in case of arrest

What to do in case of arrest

Philippine News Friday, January 06 2012

Costly fines, suspension of driver’s license, mandatory counseling, lifetime sex registration, and deportation are some consequences to criminal arrest.

If arrested, what do you do?

The holiday season means more police out in the freeways arresting people for DUI and more security at our shopping malls which means more shoplifting arrests. This is a quick guide as to your rights if you are handcuffed and arrested for a criminal charge.

In majority of criminal cases, a person is entitled to have a bond set so that they may get out of jail pending the resolution of their case. In federal court, there is a presumption a person will be released from custody unless the federal prosecutor can demonstrate that the person is a threat or a flight risk.

If a bond amount has been set, there are two ways a defendant can get out of jail. The first is to pay the full amount of the bond. However, this is usually very costly. Even the most routine cases can carry bonds in excess of $20,000. If a defendant opts to post his own bond, he would be required to post the full amount. The advantage in doing this is that a defendant gets most of his/her money back at the conclusion of the case. However, if it is determined that the defendant violated the bond conditions set by the court, the bond could be revoked in its entirety. Additionally, unless you have surplus of money available, the practical use of your money would be to hire an experienced criminal attorney for your defense.

The second way of posting a bond is using a bondsman. A bondsman will charge a fee for their services which is usually a percentage of the total bond amount. The general practice is 10 percent. I work with bail companies who I will call when a client calls my office after being arrested. They provide my clients less than 10 percent and because they are working with my clients, a payment plan is also an option.

How to hire an attorney?

How much should you pay? What qualifications should you look for?

The next step is to hire an attorney. In the criminal arena, an attorney will be retained by the court if you cannot afford to hire your own attorney. They are called state and federal public defenders. For most people, hiring an attorney is a new concept, especially a criminal defense attorney. Since the stakes are so high, making a mistake may mean being incarcerated and a criminal conviction.

If you are arrested then charged with a criminal offense, there is a real likelihood that you could end up in jail or prison. But there are other consequences, including but not limited to, costly fines, suspension of your driver’s license, mandatory counseling, lifetime sex registration, deportation. To prevent such outcomes, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is skilled in both negotiations and trial work.

I have had so many clients that come in after they have been convicted and I immediately see the mistakes of the prior attorney. Some are losing their professional licenses (nursing, real estate), in removal proceedings (deportation), or cannot get their case expunged since the offense they pled to a charge that is not within the court’s power to expunge.

I understand that especially during these times of recession, money is not to be squandered, but I must emphasize that hiring a criminal defense attorney that knows the system will help you obtain a reduced charge or even a dismissal. As for what an attorney will charge you, every attorney and case is different. Beware of the attorney who charges you an unusually low fee. The common adage that “you get what you pay for” will be the consequence.

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