Frequently Asked Questions
|Q:||The police never read me my rights. Will my case be dismissed?|
|A:||People sometimes think that if the police don’t read them their Miranda warnings (You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer one will be appointed to you …etc.) their case will be dismissed. Not necessarily. The Miranda warnings are designed to warn people of the rights they have before the police conduct a custodial interrogation. What this means in a practical sense is that if you are arrested (taken into custody) and the police ask you questions (interrogation) about the crime they are investigating but don’t give you the warnings, they may not use your answers against you in court. But if they have other evidence against the person they may be able to use that. For instance, let’s say somebody robs a bank and is caught on camera and identified by a bank teller and an eyewitness who saw the robbery occur and pick that person out of a line up.
The police arrest the person. Take him down to the station, handcuff him to the table and ask “Why did you rob the bank?” He answers “I needed the money to buy groceries.” If the police do not read the Miranda warnings before asking the question a judge may throw out the confession but not the whole case. Guess what? The prosecutor will still be able to use the video from the bank, the testimony from the teller and the eyewitness.
|Q:||Some of my charges say FELONY some say MISDEMEANOR, what’s the difference?|
|A:||Felony and Misdemeanor and summary are the terms for the basic grading of criminal offenses in Pennsylvania. Every crime is given a grading and that establishes the maximum penalties allowed by law to be imposed on someone who is found guilty of the crimes. Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are more serious than summary offenses. Felonies and Misdemeanors are also broken down into sub-categories so you have may have a felony of the first (F1), second (F2) or third (F3) degree and misdemeanors of the first (M1), second (M2) and third (M3) degrees.
The maximum punishments form most crimes are as follows:
– Felony 1 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
– Misdemeanor 1 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
– Summary Offense 90 days and a $300 fine.
Drug cases and Homicides (Murder, Manslaughter) have punishments that have different results based on facts specific to the case.
|Q:||What are your fees? How much will this cost?|
|A:||My fees are based on my experience, the complexity of the case and what result you are trying to obtain. Because each person is unique, each case is different and the path to desired result may be difficult or it may be easy, it’s impossible for me to say without talking to you. We will discuss the fee at our first meeting; there will be no surprises as the case progresses.|
|Q:||How long will this take? How often will I have to go to court?|
|A:||The glib answer would be as long or as short as it takes to get the right result, but on average a criminal case that actually goes to trial before a jury may take between 6 to 12 months from the time the person is arrested and charged until the trial is completed. There are many factors that determine when a case actually gets completed. Some we control, some we cannot. This time frame is just a ballpark estimate.|
|Q:||The police say they just want to hear my side of the story. If I talk to them will they drop the charges?|
|A:||NO! Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and ask to speak to your lawyer. If you have a defense it will come out at the right time . If you have mitigating evidence it will also come out at the right time .|
|Q:||Do I really need a lawyer?|
|A:||Let me answer that this way. If the pipes in your house burst, do you need a plumber? If your car won’t start, do you need a mechanic? Maybe not. Maybe you can fix things yourself, but if you don’t know what your doing, if you don’t have the right tools, if you don’t have the right training and experience there are many ways to make these situations much, much worse. When you are charged with a crime, making mistakes could not only make the consequences more expensive, they can cost you your freedom! You should have someone who knows the rules, the law, the other players and how the game is played, so to speak. A good lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice system in a way that either avoids or minimizes the consequences as much a possible.|
|Q:||Can I get out of jail before my case is over?|
|A:||Yes, usually. Except for death penalty cases and a few other exceptional cases, bail before a verdict shall be set in all cases. The fundamental purpose of bail is to secure the presence of the accused at trial. This means that the judge should set bail in an amount low enough so that you can get out, assist in the preparation of your case. You should be presumed innocent and you should not have to suffer a penalty before going to trial. The bail may require you to post security and agree to abide by certain conditions. The most important condition is that you show up at all court dates. If the bail is too high, we can seek to have it lowered so that you remain free until you case is resolved.|
|Q:||How much time am I looking at?|
|A:||Hopefully, none. But each case is different and each client is unique. Contact me. We’ll talk. I’ll make sure you know all your options. You choose the right one for you and we’ll work together to make it happen.|
|Q:||How can I hire you?|
|A:||Call or email me. We’ll set up an appointment to talk. Initial conferences are free. If you or your loved one is in prison, I’ll go there.|