Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Crime?
A crime is an act committed by a person against a state or the federal government. Because a wrong is committed against all members of the community, not just the particular victim, the victim does not make the decision to prosecute the accused person. The state or federal government, acting as the people’s representative, prosecutes the crime and makes the ultimate decision regarding filing of criminal charges. A crime is punishable by imprisonment, fine, probation, or other penalties.
What Should I Do If I'm Arrested?
If you are arrested in California, any statement, whether oral or written will be considered evidence in court and used against you in the prosecution of your case. If a law enforcement officer offered an inducement to sign a document or make a verbal statement, or if the officer threatens or forces you to sign anything, request an attorney immediately. These “strong-arm” tactics are often used by law enforcement to gather evidence to assist with an investigation. If you are in doubt about whether you should talk with the arresting officer or other law enforcement officers, you should wait until you have spoken with an attorney before giving up your right to remain silent.
YOU HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
Can A Law Enforcement Officer Detain Me Without Arresting Me?
A police officer may require you to identify yourself and explain your presence at a particular time, without arresting you if they have reasonable suspicion that you are/were involved in a crime. However, the officer may not remove you from the immediate vicinity without making an arrest, unless you voluntarily accompany the officer to some other location.
Can I Be Arrested Without A Warent?
In California, a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant under a variety of circumstances. Among those circumstances are:
- when the officer knows that a warrant for your arrest has been issued and is still in effect even though the warrant may be held by another police officer;
- when the arresting officer has good reason to believe that a felony has been or is being committed and that you are the person who has committed or is committing the felony.
- when a misdemeanor is committed in the presence of the officer.
What Procedures Are Usually Followed If I Am Arrested?
The officer will take you to the police station or jail.
You will be advised generally as to the charges against you. However, these charges may be changed later and stated in more detail by the office of the district attorney or in some instances by a grand jury.
You may be required to participate in a lineup, to prepare a sample of your penmanship, or to speak phrases associated with the crime with which you are charged, to put on certain wearing apparel or to give a sample of your hair. You should ask to have your defense attorney present during any of these procedures. You have an absolute right to an attorney if you have been asked to participate in a lineup after you have been formally charged by the district attorney or indicted by a grand jury.
You also may be required to be fingerprinted and photographed.
You will be arraigned at a court session or your attorney will file a written plea on your behalf. An arraignment is no more than a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charge. If you plead not guilty, another court date will be set. If you plead guilty or no contest, a sentencing date will be set, generally after the court has received a pre-sentence investigation report from probation and parole.
What Are My Rights If I Am Arrested?
You have a right to know the crime or crimes with which you have been charged.
You have the right to communicate by telephone with your attorney, family, friends, or bondsperson as soon as practicable after you have been brought into the police station. The police have a right to complete their booking procedures before you are allowed to use the telephone.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney at all critical stages of your case.
Constitutional rights may be waived or given up voluntarily. Before you say or sign anything that might result in waiver of a constitutional right, it is in your best interest to contact the Mugridge Law Firm at (559) 264-2688.
What Rights Do I Have When I Am Being Questioned By The Police?
- You have the right to remain silent.
- If you choose to say anything, understand that it can and in most cases will be used against you in a court of law.
- If you decide to answer any questions, you may stop at any time, request an attorney be present and all questioning by the police officer must end.
- You have a right to consult with an attorney before answering any questions. You have the right to have your attorney present if you decide to answer any questions.
Do I Need An Attorney If I Am Arrested?
If you are arrested for a criminal offense, you absolutely should consult with an attorney! Both misdemeanors and felonies have the potential for jail time, probation or both. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, however they deserve the same focus and aggressiveness in their defense.
Can I Represent Myself If I Am Arrested?
Yes. However, it is essential that you understand the seriousness of the charges, the consequences, and the possible defenses to those charges. It is unlikely that the average person could represent themselves effectively in court against an experienced prosecutor. The prosecutor knows the law better and is experienced in handling these types of matters. If you choose to represent yourself, you are putting yourself at a considerable disadvantage. A criminal arrest can adversely affect the rest of your life. You want to ensure that you are doing everything possible to minimize the consequences and the long term affects a criminal case will have on your future.
If I Have Not Been Arrested, Accused Or Charged With A Crime, Do I Still Need An Attorney?
Even though you are not accused or charged with a crime, you may nevertheless be a suspect while law enforcement carries out their investigation. Yes, you should consult with an attorney before making any statements, either verbal or written. What you say, no matter how well intentioned, can be misinterpreted and will be used against you later.
Contact the Mugridge Law Firm today at (559) 264-2688.