Frequently Asked Questions: Criminal Defense
Answers from a Lawrenceville Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Office of Robert L. Booker is dedicated to defending clients facing criminal misdemeanor or felony charges. For information about criminal defense and for legal representation following an arrest, contact Attorney Booker, who is experienced in all areas of criminal law. Following are some frequently asked questions that may help you better understand your criminal charges and the legal criminal proceedings.
What happens if I am convicted?
It is important to have legal representation throughout all criminal proceedings starting with an arrest, during arraignment and at all steps involving the courts and criminal procedures. A criminal conviction can result in the loss of certain rights and freedoms making it necessary to have competent legal defense from an attorney who will protect the best interests of clients inside and outside of the courtroom. Our goal when defending clients is for the best possible outcome in a criminal case. Our success rate is high as reflected in the decrease of criminal charges or case dismissals in all types of cases including DUIs, drug crimes, and other crimes of a violent or non-violent nature.
What happens if I miss a court date or don’t finish the requirements of my probation or parole?
An individual on probation or parole must obey the specific rules imposed by a judge, which usually includes scheduled meetings with the assigned parole officer, period chemical testing, notification of change of residence, and attendance at scheduled court hearings. A violation of parole is a crime in itself. If a parolee engages in further criminal activity or associates with known criminals, or fails to meet the parole standards, he or she may face increased penalties or incarceration. A simple missed court date may have harsh consequences. Attorney Robert Booker has the knowledge and experience necessary to defend against all types of parole violations.
What if I am innocent?
No matter if you are guilty or innocent, the first thing you should do after being charged with a crime is to contact an aggressive criminal defense lawyer. Being innocent makes it even more imperative because you only have one chance to prove your innocence and it is crucial that the truth wins out and you are not wrongly convicted of a crime that you did not commit. The slogan of our judicial system is that you are innocent until proven guilty. Don’t be fooled, justice does not always prevail. The truth is, if law enforcement officials have arrested you, it is usually because they already believe you to be guilty of the crime. Sometimes they are not so worried about finding out the truth as much as putting “alleged criminal offenders” behind bars. It is definitely in your best interest to obtain a hard-hitting attorney to fight on your side to ensure that your innocence is known and to protect your rights and your freedom.
What if I just want to plead guilty, do I still need an attorney?
In cases when the defendant is guilty and does not want to drag the process on, it is still crucial to have legal protection both inside and outside the courtroom. If the evidence against you is plentiful and convincing, you can plead guilty, but you should have a criminal defense lawyer there to do damage control on your behalf. If you are indeed convicted, your attorney can fight to have your charges reduced to the minimum sentence, this way you can spend less time incarcerated, have a smaller fine to pay and have a shorter probationary period. Whether you are guilty or not, it is still a wise decision to have an assertive legal ally there throughout the legal proceedings to ensure that your legal rights are preserved.
After being arrested, do peace officers have to “read me my rights"?
Legally they do not, however, if they fail to do so then any information that you give to them is not permitted to be used as evidence against you during the trial. Many people mistakenly believe that if law enforcement officials don’t read the Miranda rights then their case can be thrown out and dismissed. This is not true. After issuing the Miranda warning, it gives them the authority to use any statement that you make during questioning and turn it into direct evidence. There is one exception, however, that pertains to individuals being questions when they are not in police custody. If you are not in custody they do not need to read you the Miranda rights. The common protocol in most situations is that they will read you the Miranda rights immediately following an arrest. The rights are as follows:
“You have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.”
How does the DUI process work?
An adult over 21 with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is subject to arrest and charges of a criminal DUI. Common penalties are jail time, fines, and license suspension or revocation. Additional penalties may include vehicle impound, ignition interlock device, alcohol classes and counseling, and community service. It is important to have legal representation immediately following an arrest and during DMV hearings regarding license suspension, during arraignment hearings and throughout the DUI process. Attorney Robert Booker defends DUI cases whether a first time offense or multiple DUI offenses, felony cases and those involving DUI accidents resulting in injuries or deaths or leaving the scene of an accident.
What’s the difference between probation and parole?
Probation is simply an extension of a criminal sentence that is being served outside of incarceration, when the defendant is permitted to be an active member in society again, but with certain limitations. Probation is generally only given to first time offenders who committed a non-violent crime. Once a person is released from jail or prison, they still need to serve throughout their probationary period and must abide by all the terms of their probation agreement. If someone fails to abide by the terms of their probation, it may be revoked and they could have to spend the remainder of their sentence behind bars once again. In order for a revocation to happen the parolee must be given written notice and reasons as to why it is being revoked. That is why it is very important to abide by the rules and be on your best behavior during probation in order for it to be served successfully and your sentence to be completed. Once probation is officially completed then the individual will be free of court supervision.
Parole is somewhat more severe and it is for criminal offenders who have served their allotted time in prison. Once your prison sentence has been served, then you case will be reviewed by the parole board in order to determine if the remainder of your sentence can be served outside of prison. The board will take multiple factors into consideration when making their decision such as, the severity of the crime committed, the offender’s behavior and attitude while serving their time in prison, how crowded the prison is and whether or not they have somewhere to go once they are released. If parole is granted then it is somewhat similar to probation in that the parolee must abide by the terms of their parole and if they violate them or commit another crime then it can also be revoked.
Does the type of drug have an impact when sentencing drug offenders?
Yes, definitely. The penalties for drug offenses are all based on what type of drug you are dealing with and the amount of drugs (gram weight) involved. Drugs are classified into several classes A, B, C, D and E. Class A drugs including heroin, LSD, ecstasy and other hallucinogenic mushrooms are considered to be the most dangerous and highly abusive. Class B drugs include morphine, oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs of that nature. Class C is comprised of testosterone and ketamine, among others. Class D drugs are comprised of clonazepam, diazepam and phenobarbital. Lastly, Class E is made up of drugs that only have a low level of codeine, opium or ethyl morphine in them. It is definitely safe to say that the type of drug has a huge impact on the penalties. For example, being caught in possession of heroin would be far worse than being caught in possession of marijuana and would call for a more severe sentence.
Make an appointment today for a free consultation with Robert L. Booker. Attorney Booker will happily address any of your questions and concerns. He always provides professional legal services on a personal level and he is dedicated to obtaining the best possible results.