The criminal justice system protects us by arresting and jailing criminals. Yet not everyone who is arrested is a bad guy. Someday, you, a family member, or a close personal friend may be accused of committing a crime and arrested. If you have been arrested, it is important to know your rights.
In general, you have the following basic rights if you are arrested:
- Right to have a lawyer while being questioned
- Right to have a lawyer without cost if you cannot afford one
- Right to remain silent
- Right to be informed that anything you say may be used against you
- Right to be informed of the charges against you
- Right to be considered for release pending trial
- Right to compensation for wrongful arrest
Crimes are classified in our criminal justice system based on severity. An Infraction is a petty offense that is punishable by only a small fine with no possibility for jail time. An example would be a speeding or parking ticket. You are not arrested when you received an infraction, so the rights listed above do not apply. For example, you do have the right to a jury trial and no attorney will be appointed to you if you receive a speeding ticket.
You do not usually need an attorney if you receive an infraction. However, if you believe that you are innocent and wish to fight the infraction, our attorneys can help you understand your rights and defenses.
A Misdemeanor is a more serious crime that is punishable by a fine and/or up to one year in county jail. For misdemeanors, you do have the right to a jury trial and the right to have an attorney appointed to you if you cannot afford one. Examples of misdemeanor crimes are petty theft, assault, DUI/public intoxication, disturbing the peace and trespassing.
Felony crimes are the most serious types of crimes. Felonies are punishable by fines and one or more years in state prison. They usually stem from violent acts, such as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and sexual crimes, but can also be white collar crimes such as embezzlement or drug crimes such as possession with intent to sell or drug trafficking. Many misdemeanor crimes can be elevated to a felony depending on the circumstances.
If you are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony, it is a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. The legal framework of a criminal case and your rights during the case are very complicated, and an attorney can often lessen the charges on your criminal record, lessen the fines you have to pay, or get the case dismissed altogether.
Criminal matters include:
- Record Sealing
- Withdrawing Guilty Pleas
- Probation Violations
- Three Strikes Law
- Red Light Camera
- Speeding Tickets
- Traffic Tickets
- Juvenile Defense
- Bench Warrants
- Drunk Driving
- Hit and Run
- Assault and Battery
- Drug Possession/Sale
- Drug Crimes
- Sex Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
- Other criminal matters