Civilian Defendants FAQ

FAQs for Civilian Defendants
What is a felony?

What is a Misdemeanor?

The police officer who arrested me failed to read me the Miranda rights. What effect does that have on my case?

If I am stopped for a traffic violation and the law enforcement officer asks to have a look inside my vehicle, must I agree?

I have just learned that the police and/or federal agents have come looking for me. Should I call them and arrange to meet with them?

I have just been arrested! What should I do?

Will I have to post bail in order to be released from custody?

What if the bail set by the judge is too high for me to make?

Will the bail money be returned when the case is over?

What will my lawyer do after my initial appearance in court?

Can I travel out of the state or country while my case is pending?

What is the difference between probation and parole?

If I'm convicted of a crime while I am in the United States legally on a work visa, can I be deported?

I have already been convicted of a crime after a trial. What can you do for me?

What is a felony?
A felony is a serious crime, punishable by more than one year in prison or by death. Crimes commonly considered to be felonies include: aggravated assault, arson, burglary, embezzlement, murder, rape, kidnapping and many drug crimes.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act, and is generally punished less severely than a felony offense. Many misdemeanors can be punished with monetary fines or jail time of less than one year. Examples of misdemeanors include: petty theft, public intoxication, simple assault, and disorderly conduct. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

The police officer who arrested me failed to read me the Miranda rights. What effect does that have on my case?
An officer’s failure to administer Miranda rights is not necessarily fatal to the prosecutor’s case.  Generally, the failure to read the rights will prevent the officer from being able to repeat in court any oral statement you might have made after being arrested.  However, the impact of a Miranda “violation” is largely dependent on the specific facts of your case.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

If I am stopped for a traffic violation and the law enforcement officer asks to have a look inside my vehicle, must I agree?
Certainly not! By doing this, the officer is actually asking you to give up your constitutional right to be free of an unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that residents of this country have the right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…" All states have similar constitutional and statutory provisions providing protection against searches made without probable cause. However, the courts have held that you can be stripped of this important right if you voluntarily consent to an officer's request to search. The officer is not required to have a reason to request the search of your vehicle—you may fit a profile known to law enforcement, or the officer may just be suspicious of your looks. Furthermore, the officer does not have to inform you that you have the right to withhold consent.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

I have just learned that the police and/or federal agents have come looking for me. Should I call them and arrange to meet with them?
No. You should instead have an experienced criminal defense attorney make contact with these officials to find out what is going on. In many instances, doing so can prevent your arrest and will almost always prevent law enforcement from obtaining damaging information from you. If the police or agents intend to arrest you, your attorney may arrange for your surrender on a given date, at a specific time and location that would best avoid unnecessary embarrassment or show of force. In addition, arranging surrender in this manner will have a positive impact on a court's decision in setting bail.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

I have just been arrested! What should I do?
Once you have contacted your family or friends, you should seek out an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can quickly find out as much information as possible concerning the reason for your arrest, and arrange to have you released as soon as possible. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

Will I have to post bail in order to be released from custody?
This depends on a number of factors, including the effectiveness of your attorney in communicating to the court the reasons why you should be released without having to post any bail or with a low bail. Relevant factors include the seriousness of the charges against you, whether they are state or federal charges, the strength of the evidence against you, and any prior criminal record you may have. If bail is set, how can I get released?
You will be released as soon as bail has been paid and the facility at which you are held confirms that the bail has been posted. An experienced defense attorney will help you to put together the necessary assets to post bail, or to work with an honest and reasonable bail bondsman to post a bond. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

What if the bail set by the judge is too high for me to make?
One of the most important things an experienced criminal defense attorney can do for you is attempt to convince a judge that the initial decision on bail was unfair or unjust and that a lower bail figure—sometimes combined with other assurances such as surrender of passport, waiver of extradition, or electronic monitoring—are enough to secure your return to court when required. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

Will the bail money be returned when the case is over?
Bail is simply a financial assurance that the defendant will appear for future court hearings after being released from custody. There are two ways to post bail. A "cash" bail may be posted with the custodial agency to cover the full amount of bail. If bail is exonerated, i.e., if the defendant shows up each time he or she is supposed to, the defendant will receive a check for the entire amount posted at the end of the case. Alternatively, a "bond" can be posted by a bail company. With this option, the defendant only has to pay roughly 10% of the entire amount to the bail company, who posts the full amount of the bail on the defendant's behalf. The 10% bond fee is not refunded at the end of the case.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

What will my lawyer do after my initial appearance in court?
From the moment you hire your attorney, he or she will begin to gather information both about you and about your case from you and all other sources, including the prosecutor, any witnesses, family members, colleagues and friends. Every case is different and Attorney Mike Walther will tailor his approach to fit your specific needs. In addition to conducting a defense investigation of your case, your attorney can meet with the prosecutor to discuss potential dismissal or reduction of the charges, make certain motions or applications to the court, have certain evidence deemed inadmissible in court, or try to compel the prosecutor to disclose to the defense certain information or evidence.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

Can I travel out of the state or country while my case is pending?
In state court proceedings, there are usually no restrictions and you are free to travel while on bail. However, in federal court (in most cases) you are not permitted to travel outside the district of prosecution and neighboring districts without obtaining special permission from the Court. Your defense attorney can advocate for changes to your bail conditions if you need to travel. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

What is the difference between probation and parole?
Simply put, probation is a type of criminal sentence that allows you to continue living in the community rather than serve time in prison, as long as you follow certain rules, such as:

1. Regularly reporting to a probation officer;
2. Refraining from alcohol and drugs; and
3. Not committing any further crimes.

Parole, on the other hand, is a release from jail or prison back into the community under the supervision of a parole officer prior to the end of your sentence. The rules or conditions for parole are generally similar to those of probation.

If you have violated probation or parole, you need an aggressive and effective criminal defense attorney on your side. Because probation and parole conditions are becoming more and more numerous and strict, Attorney Mike Walther will advocate on your behalf to modify or remove them.RETURN TO QUESTIONS

If I'm convicted of a crime while I am in the United States legally on a work visa, can I be deported?
Yes. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, if you, a non-citizen of the United States, are convicted of an aggravated felony, a crime of "moral turpitude" or any one of a number of crimes in a third category (such as violations of laws relating to domestic violence, controlled substances and possessing a firearm), you are at serious risk of deportation.

I have already been convicted of a crime after a trial. What can you do for me? Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to a new trial. You have the right to file a motion before sentencing, in which you apply for a new trial based on certain errors that may have been made at trial by the judge, or based on certain improper comments made by the prosecutor to jury, or even in some instances, based upon errors or omissions on the part of your trial attorney. There may also be other grounds available for you to seek a new trial after you have been convicted, including juror misconduct, or newly discovered evidence. Even if you have already been sentenced, we have been successful in winning clients new trials before they file their appeal on the grounds mentioned above. Of course, we have years of experience in successfully representing persons convicted of crimes on appeal to state and federal courts. RETURN TO QUESTIONS

 

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