Criminal Defense Law FAQ’s

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The following FAQ’s provide an overview of the common questions people will have if they are stopped by the police and arrested.

What should I do if stopped by the police?
What should I do if I am arrested?
What happens after I am arrested?
What is the difference between a DUI/DWI?

What should I do if stopped by the police?

  • Be respectful and polite
  • Stay calm and in control of yourself
  • Keep your hands in plain view and keep them to yourself
  • Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent
  • Do not try tell the police they’re wrong or that you’re going to file a complaint
  • Don’t say anything about the situation
  • Ask to speak with a lawyer in private as soon as reasonably possible if arrested
  • If asked if you know why he/she stopped you, simply reply you are not sure

What should I do if I am arrested?

Listen to your Miranda Rights

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney present before any questioning.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning; Do you understand these rights?

Request to speak with an attorney in private

Your Miranda Rights will be read to you by the arresting police officer. Despite the fact that these words are now so ingrained in our vernacular that they are often perceived as background noise, it is important that you pay attention to every word of these rights.

Keep in mind that if you are placed under arrest, the officer has probably done investigation leading him to believe there was probable cause that YOU committed a crime.  At this point, the officer has made his decision.  Do not think you could do or say anything to change the officer’s mind.  Listen to your rights and politely request to speak to a criminal defense attorney in private.

Do Not Resist Arrest

Resisting arrest could subject you to further criminal charges if you go too far.  Additionally, your attitude towards arresting police officers if negative or volatile will be presented as supporting a guilty verdict.  In general, juries do not react favorable to a person who fights with police and will most likely see this as evidence of guilt.

If convicted, the prosecution could use any negative conduct to support a harsher sentence.  In short, displaying aggressive behavior towards police will cause only trouble.  Despite the fact that you might be scared, angry and/or have high anxiety, you must maintain composure and politely request to speak to an attorney in private.

Guilty or Not Guilty – Invoke Your Rights

If you are arrested, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Barna, Guzy & Steffen’s criminal defense attorneys are all highly experienced trial attorneys. We have prosecution and public defender backgrounds as well as private criminal defense experience, which translates into a wealth of experience to call upon when representing you.

What happens after I am arrested?

1. The Arrest: Probable cause that the person has committed a crime.

2. Police Reports: reports to the Prosecuting Attorney who decides whether or not charges will be filed.

3. The arraignment/first appearance:  The criminal defendant is formerly advised of his/her charges and constitutional rights.  Bail is often set at this arraignment.

4. Pre Trial Hearing: A good time to negotiate a plea.

5. Trial:  During a trial both sides will present their arguments to a jury made up  of men and women as impartial jurors. Then during the deliberation phase, the jury will decide whether the prosecution has met the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury finds not guilty, defendant is free to go and cannot be prosecuted again based on the same offenses.

6.Sentencing: found guilty, the judge will determine and impose proper punishment in the sentencing hearing. At this hearing, the defendant can propose why he/she believes the judge should give a lower possible penalty.

7. Collateral Consequences: Conviction can have additional consequences. In felony cases, these consequences can include, but are not limited to: loss of the right to vote, loss of the right to possess a firearm, loss of the right to associate with other known criminals, registration as a predatory offender, registration as a narcotics offender, or increased penalties for future convictions.

8. Appeals & Writs: If convicted, it is possible to file an appeal to an appellate level court to argue that the trial court made legal errors. If the defense can prove that the trial court made legal errors, or denial of a fair trial, it may result in the reversal of conviction.

9. Probation/Supervised Release/Parole: A period of time when the defendant has multiple sentencing provisions to comply with.

12. Expungement: a process where, in some cases, your conviction may be sealed.

What is the difference between DUI/DWI?

DWI: Driving While Intoxicated
DUI: Driving Under the Influence

In some states, these terms have different meanings, but in Minnesota, they are interchangeable.  There is no technical difference between the two.