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Criminal Defense – General Information
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Without your consent or special circumstances, you cannot be arrested in your home without a warrant. The police can arrest you without a warrant for committing a misdemeanor in their presence. Misdemeanors are ordinarily lesser crimes. Examples include trespassing, disturbing the peace, driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to stop when you are in an accident, driving without a valid driver’s license, or causing the police to believe you will disregard a traffic citation.
The police can also arrest you without a warrant if they have reason to believe that you have committed a felony, such as robbery, murder or drug offenses. If you are arrested without a warrant for a felony or a misdemeanor, you are entitled to a prompt hearing to determine whether the officers had the minimum level of evidence required for a legal arrest.
If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. Depending on local procedures, the court may appoint a private attorney (the case in Northern Michigan), a lawyer from a legal aid society, or a public defender. The police are required to notify you of these rights before questioning you. Ordinarily they are recited during the confusion of the arrest. Remember them. They may become critical to your defense later on.
Even if you declined a lawyer at the time of your arrest, you retain the right to have a lawyer at any time after being arrested. You should seek the advice of a lawyer at the earliest possible time to avoid incriminating yourself, to get released from custody, to decide how to plead, and to prepare for your trial.
If you are called by a family member or friend who has been arrested, remind them that they have a right to a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan and that they do not have to respond to police questioning until the lawyer is present. If a lawyer has been engaged, the person who has been arrested should let the police know that they claim the right to counsel and that a lawyer is on the way
You may be asked to participate in a line-up. This is a procedure in which several people, including one or more suspects, are shown to victims or witnesses of a crime to see if they can identify the one who committed it. If you are asked to participate in a lineup, you have a right to have your attorney present.
If you are confined in a detention facility, it may be several hours to a couple of days before you appear before a judge who can consider releasing you. Do your best to stay calm, and do not discuss the circumstances of the alleged crime with others. Any statements you make may be reported to the police and used against you.
If you are accused of a less serious crime, such as a minor traffic violation, the police may ask you to sign a citation instead of taking you into custody. If you sign the citation, you are promising to appear in court, but your are not admitting guilt. If you have no identification or refuse to sign the citation, the police may take you into custody.
Above all, do your best to stay calm. An arrest is not a conviction. You really are innocent until proven guilty. Prospective employers cannot ordinarily inquire into your arrest, nor can it be used to undermine your testimony in court. If you have further questions about these or other matters, please contact The Law Office of Gerald F. Chefalo as soon as possible.
Successful results in cases involving:
- DUI, DWI, OWI
- Traffic Offenses
- NSF/Bad Checks
- Domestic Violence
- Open Murder
- Sex Crimes (all degrees)
- Drug Charges
- Armed Robbery
- Home Invasion/Property Crimes
- Assault and Battery
- White Collar Crimes
- Child Abuse
- Animal Abuse
- Firearm Charges
- License Restoration
- All Felonies
Do not hesitate to call The Law Office of Gerald F. Chefalo at (231) 929-7744. This phone number is answered 24/7 by an actual person! We can assist you any day or time necessary. Our attorneys are professional and experienced throughout Northern Michigan. We defend ALL felony and misdemeanor crimes ranging from drunk driving to probation violation to murder and everything in between.
We cannot stress this enough. PLEASE CALL AN ATTORNEY BEFORE TALKING TO THE POLICE. If you have not yet been charged with a crime and the police want to talk to you, call us first. NEVER consent to an interview without an attorney present. Statements that you may view as innocent can often be used against you later. ALWAYS call us first. If you have been charged already, please DO NOT speak with the police, call and speak with Gerald F. Chefalo first, we answer our telephones 24/7 just for this reason.
If you hire The Law Office of Gerald F. Chefalo immediately, there are some things we can do for you: Obtain a low or personal recognizance bond, review the case immediately for defects, move to suppress evidence, obtain vital information from the prosecution that may be used against you, prevent important evidence such as 911 tapes, police dispatch tapes, vehicle information, video tapes, etc., from being lost or destroyed.
Lastly, arm yourself with the best legal defense possible. You need an attorney who will develop a clear strategy for your specific case and will not push you to make hasty decisions. At The Law Office of Gerald F. Chefalo, it is our job to advise you, counsel you and help you make the best legal decisions you can. Only the judge has the ability to determine your sentence, if you are ultimately convicted, you need an attorney who will present your unique situation to obtain the most lenient sentence possible for you. Our experienced attorneys can use some of the following tactics to help you: Review and examine the police procedures to determine if your constitutional rights were violated, interview witnesses, make sure the prosecutor follows proper procedures, negotiate plea bargains on your behalf, negotiate sentencing deals eliminating the threat of jail, take every opportunity to obtain a dismissal before trial, work as co-counsel with other lawyers in those unique case where additional resources are needed, file motions, argue and most importantly keep you informed!
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you deserve a legal team committed to protecting your rights.