Do You Know Your Rights?
Many legal matters require immediate attention to obtain favorable results. A criminal offense may have life-long consequences. The ability to find a good job, buy a house or even maintain custody of your own children can all be affected by the stigma of a criminal record.
The skill to successfully negotiate your case starts with the very beginning of the police investigation. Our Courts allow law enforcement to misrepresent facts and information to obtain statements from witnesses and individuals involved in criminal matters.
A seemingly innocent statement made by an individual accused of a crime may be manipulated to that person’s detriment. If you are a suspect in a criminal matter the police are not your friend, nor are they interested in your well being. Please do not give an oral or written statement to the police or anyone without first obtaining competent legal advice from a Board Certified Attorney.
Under some circumstances a criminal matter may be resolved without the necessity of a long drawn out criminal proceeding. Other times it is essential to dig in and fight for your rights. It is important to hire a qualified attorney who knows which position is in your best interest. It takes an attorney who is at the top of his profession to know the difference.
The method by which your case is handled may later determine your right to have a potentially damaging criminal records expunged or sealed on your behalf. Additionally, the manner in which your case is disposed may decide whether you will be subjected to increased criminal punishment possibilities if you are ever involved in subsequent criminal matters.
Plea of Not Guilty
With a plea of not guilty you will be going to trial. You cannot plead not guilty and then accept any type of sentence. Once your case is in trial you will have three possible outcomes:
If you are found not guilty you will suffer no consequences except for the thousands of dollars you have spent to post a bond, bond caseload fees, G.P.S. monitoring fees, missed work, trial fees and the vast amount of time you have wasted going to court. This is extremely unfair. Once again you are guilty until proven innocent.
You may be found guilty and given probation. The terms and conditions of probation will be set by the court, and they may include between 30 to 180 days in the county jail.
But what is also important to note is that neither the Judge nor the jury are allowed to grant deferred adjudication probation once the guilty/not guilty portion of the trial has been completed.
You may be found guilty and sentenced to jail and fined.
Plea of Guilty or No Contest
On a plea of guilty or no contest, the most severe outcome would be jail time. Once your plea of guilty or no contest is submitted you will have three possible outcomes:
You can receive jail or prison time and an applicable fine within the range of punishment for your given offense level.
The second type of disposition is deferred adjudication probation. Deferred adjudication is similar to straight probation but with a couple of distinctions. First, on deferred adjudication probation any violation of the probation will expose you to the full range of punishment for your given offense. Second, a successful completion of deferred adjudication will eliminate a conviction being placed on your permanent criminal record. However, you will still have a permanent arrest on your criminal record. For some criminal offenses a single criminal charge which results in probation or jail time may now be sealed by an Order of Nondisclosure. However, you will still have an arrest listed on your criminal records which may be later sealed if the offense qualifies for an Order of Nondisclosure
The third type of punishment is straight probation. Straight probation will keep you out of jail, but you will be required to report to a probation officer, pay probation fees, take counseling classes, perform community service and you will have a criminal conviction on your permanent record.