Frequently Asked Questions
If someone has accused you of a crime, but charges have not yet been filed, then your case is considered to be a pre-file. If this is your situation, now is the best time to consult an experienced defense firm. A smart criminal defense lawyer will take steps to protect you and influence the process in every way possible to prevent criminal charges.
A pre-file situation can be compared to the beginning of a fire…your lawyer is a fireman and if called early enough may be able to smother the flames before the blaze gets out of control.
At we are particularly sensitive to the opportunities and risks at the pre-file stage—the wrong attorney may inadvertently fan the flames. WE WON’T. Attorney Andrews is a former police officer and prosecutor. He knows how the other side works at every stage of a case.
Please do not put your head in the sand and hope for the best! If you are vulnerable to a criminal accusation, let us review your situation confidentially and advise what if anything should be done to protect your freedom.
While at the station, the police will likely take your personal belongings, your fingerprints, and your photo. This is called booking. Depending on the facts of your case, may be able to seal the record of the arrest. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you may be released after booking and given a future court date. Otherwise you will be jailed until bailed out, or arrange an “O.R.” (own recognizance) release.
If in custody, it is important to refrain from discussing anything about your case with anybody other than your attorney during a confidential visit. While in the jail, you have no expectation of privacy. Phone calls and letters are monitored and other inmates are often “snitches”.
If arrested, it is important to remember that an arrest is only an accusation, not a conviction. Often people feel discouraged or even hopeless after going through the drama and humiliation of an arrest. Whatever your circumstances, assume nothing until we’ve evaluated your case. Many clients are arrested before retaining us. These people often tell us that the arrest was their lowest point, but they always feel better after we’ve worked together and created a plan.
If you’ve already been arrested, you were likely handcuffed and taken to the police station. This is considered being in police custody and triggers important rights.
While in police custody, law enforcement officials (both state and federal) must Mirandize you before questioning. The Miranda warning requires that police advise you of your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent when questioned by the police. It also warns that anything you say can be used against you to support their case.
When faced with questions from law enforcement it is almost always better to assert your Miranda rights and remain silent. Attorney Andrews never lets clients talk to the police—except in rare situations and only with the attorney present.
An “O.R.” release means that the court agrees to let you out of custody on your own recognizance without the need to post bail. Your attorney can make a strong argument that might save you thousands of dollars in bail bond fees. Our first priority when clients are in custody is to do everything legally possible to secure their release quickly and with the least cost to our clients.
Misdemeanors carry a maximum possible sentence of up to one year in county jail. Felonies are generally more serious offenses and can result in state prison for at least a year and potentially much longer depending on the charge. Some crimes can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.
For example, domestic violence and DUI can be charged either way depending on the facts and the District Attorney’s discretion. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, there are several potential problems other than jail or prison if convicted. They include:
- As an adult, a criminal conviction becomes part of your permanent record and can appear on employer background checks.
- Drug or sex offender registration.
- Non citizens may face immigration issues including deportation.
- Loss of privileges, including driving, voting, and travel.
At , we are very sensitive to the many ways a criminal conviction can impact your life. Our goal is always the complete dismissal of charges either through negotiation or a not guilty verdict at trial.
Whether you are in or out of custody, your first court appearance after being charged with a crime is called the arraignment.
- You will be formally notified of the charges against you.
- Your lawyer will be provided a copy of the complaint, along with any discovery (police reports and documents related to the case).
Entering a Not Guilty Plea
Regardless of the content of the discovery, when invited to enter a plea at arraignment your attorney will almost always enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. A not guilty plea is a way of saying “can you prove it?”
Even if you’ve confessed to a serious crime, if we can show that the confession was obtained illegally, and the prosecutor does not have other evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then the case should be dropped regardless of how “guilty” you might feel. Attorneys believe strongly in the legal presumption of innocence and insure that your legal rights are protected.
In addition to entering a plea, obtaining discovery, and dealing with bail issues if necessary, the arraignment may include discussion regarding court imposed stay away orders. For example, in domestic violence cases it’s not unusual for the court to forbid contact between spouses. Your attorney may be able to prevail upon the court to allow continued contact when appropriate.
Finally, your arraignment is the beginning of a process that could have significant impact on your life in a variety of ways such as freedom, reputation, career etc. It is important that your attorney is present and prepared to deal with the variety of issues that can arise. Before the arraignment is over, additional court dates will be set and issues of time waiver will be addressed.
After your arraignment, your Attorney Andrews will begin the process of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you. Often we will try to exclude evidence that may have been illegally obtained. Depending on the case we may bring in private investigators and other experts to provide helpful information.
Dismissal of Your Case
Our goal is always the complete dismissal of all charges. This is not always possible, but a thorough approach always gives the best possible outcome. Many times we will prepare a case for trial knowing that a negotiated settlement is more likely. This belt and suspenders approach puts us in a stronger negotiating position and we always understand the case better than the opposing counsel.
When a complete dismissal is not possible, we can be very creative in resolving your case in a way that minimizes negative consequences. For example, attorneys are well known for crafting options such as:
- civil compromises
- jail alternatives like counseling or public service
- first offender programs
These and other strategies can be used to protect our client’s freedom and reputation.
If I cannot get your case dropped altogether, it will resolve in one of two ways. Either we will agree to a negotiated resolution – a plea bargain, or it will go to trial.
Attorney Andrews is a seasoned trial lawyer and sometimes his reputation and willingness to try cases results in very favorable plea bargains. A favorable plea bargain might include a program that keeps a clients record clean, like some first offender programs. It could include alternatives to jail, such as home monitoring, community service, therapy and counseling programs.
The outcome of your case will depend on many factors, some of which you now have no control over. However, one of the biggest factors that will influence the outcome of your case is the law firm that you choose.