Is law enforcement allowed to search my house or car?
Property and privacy rights are some of the most important for American citizens. Police are only allowed to search your vehicle or home if they have a warrant, if they have probable cause, or if you give explicit consent for them to do so. You are never required to consent a police search of your property, and you should never feel pressured to do so. If you believe that you were the victim of unlawful search and seizure, contact The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman immediately to safeguard your rights.
Are the police required to read my rights when I'm arrested?
No. Law enforcement officers are not legally required to "read your rights" at the time of your arrest. The Miranda warning is only required if law enforcement plans on using your statements against you in court. Additionally, the warning is only required if you are in police custody. If the police want to ask you questions that might elicit incriminating answers, they will probably read the Miranda warning just to be safe. Consult a defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement so you can be safe.
What happens if the police ask for a statement and I refuse? Will I be arrested for refusing to cooperate?
You cannot be arrested or charged with a crime for exercising your right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment allows you to remain silent and avoid giving testimony against yourself. If a police officer tries to intimidate you into waiving your rights, do not believe them and insist on speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible. Judges cannot set a high bail for not cooperating with law enforcement, but some officers try to make you think that you are required to give a statement. In reality, officers may try to scare you into making a statement so that it will be easier to obtain a conviction later.
What is a grand jury and how will it affect my case?
A grand jury is a collection of individuals used to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to take a case to trial. For example: If you were arrested for a drug crime, a grand jury might be used to figure out whether or not the prosecution has a legitimate case against you. The grand jury will base its determination on witness testimony, documents, and other available evidence. At the end of the proceedings, the jury will decide whether or not the case will actually go to trial. If there is not enough evidence to conduct a trial, your case will not move forward. Grand juries are typically reserved for high-level felonies and federal crimes.
How does the prosecution determine the charges I will face?
Typically, the prosecution pursues charges with enough evidence to back them up. In other words, the prosecution will look for a legally sound case. If a case contains some kind of inherent flaw, it probably isn't worth pursuing. Then, prosecuting attorneys decide whether or not there is enough evidence to pursue a conviction. If there isn't, the case will probably be dropped, or another charge will be considered. "Enough" evidence is determined by the quantity of the evidence held against you and the quality. For example, if the prosecuting attorney has a large quantity of questionable evidence, they probably still won't pursue that particular case because of its potential holes. You can only be prosecuted once per alleged offense, so prosecutors have to be careful when deciding when to act.
Do I really need a lawyer if I'm going to plead guilty?
Yes. A skilled defense attorney is imperative even if you plan on taking a plea bargain. A lawyer can help you decide if the plea bargain is really your best option. Additionally, your lawyer can help you determine whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence to offer you a plea bargain for a specific offense. Without a lawyer, the prosecution might assume that you are going to plead guilty and offer you an unreasonable bargain. An attorney can help you negotiate for an agreement.
I'm innocent. Do I still need a criminal defense lawyer?
Yes. It doesn't matter if you actually committed a crime; you are subject to the same fines and penalties as everyone else in the event of a conviction. A defense attorney can fight aggressively to make sure that your rights are protected, though.
What is the purpose of an administrative hearing, and can it help me? If you have received notice that your driver's license may be suspended or revoked, you should request an administrative hearing to fight for your driving privilege. A DMV hearing is your chance to prove that the suspension or revocation of your driver's license is not justified given your circumstances. It is wise to have the help of a skilled attorney by your side at the administrative hearing.
Is there any way I can get to and from work if my driver's license is suspended? If your driver's license is suspended by the DMV for a period of time, you have the option of applying for a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work. This type of restricted license will not be addressed at the DMV hearing. You must apply for a restricted driver's license at a DMV field office.
How long can my driver's license be suspended if I took the chemical test? California DUI laws require you to submit to a chemical test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in your blood, and these tests include blood, breath and urine tests. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) shows up as .08% or higher and you are unsuccessful in fighting your DUI, your driver's license will be suspended for a minimum of four months. A second or subsequent DUI conviction within a 10-year time period will result in a one-year driver's license suspension.
If you have been arrested for an underage DUI because your preliminary alcohol-screening (PAS) test or chemical test revealed that your BAC was .01% or higher, you will lose your license for a year.
Do I have to tell my car insurance company about my DUI? If you have received a DUI conviction, there are two different ways that your car insurance carrier can find out about your DUI. The first way happens when your insurance runs a check on your DMV record, which generally happens when your policy is up for renewal or when you apply for new coverage. Any DUI convictions that are within the last 10 years will be visible.
Secondly, your car insurance carrier can find out about your DUI when the California Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to obtain an SR-22, which is a certificate of insurance that signifies that you meet the state's minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage.
Can I be arrested for possessing a drug I didn't use? If you are caught in the possession of a controlled substance, you can be charged with a crime even if you have not taken the drug. However, you will not necessarily go to jail. You might be able to avoid jail by paying fines, entering treatment for drug addiction, or going through drug rehabilitation.
Can I be charged with drug possession for legal prescription drugs? Many people are surprised to learn that the answer to this question is yes. You can be charged with possession if you are caught with certain medications without a prescription. Even if you have medication such as Vicodin or codeine simply for personal use, you may still find yourself facing serious charges if they are not your own prescription.
What does DEJ stand for? DEJ stands for "Deferred Entry of Judgment." If you have been charged with a drug crime for the first time, this is a program that allows for your case to be dismissed as long as you complete a drug program and are not charged with any other crimes within a certain period of time following your original charges.
What is Proposition 36? In 2000, California passed Proposition 36 to help drug offenders who are ineligible for the DEJ program. The purpose of Proposition 36 is to provide education and treatment for drug offenders rather than putting them in jail. If you qualify for Proposition 36, you may be able to get your case dismissed by completing a drug program and pleading guilty to the original drug charges.
Will I be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia for having legal household items? Unfortunately, yes. There are certain household items that are also classified as drug paraphernalia, such as flashlights, highlighters, and pagers that are used to communicate drug trafficking efforts in some cases. You can be charged with possession of illegal paraphernalia if the prosecution can prove that the items in question were used in connection to a crime.
What are some of the defense strategies for a possession charge? At The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, Attorney Goodman knows how to scrutinize your case to identify areas where the police made mistakes or acted inappropriately. For example, law enforcement officers will often ignore the California rules of search and seizure when investigating the activities of suspects. In other situations, she may be able to prove that your arrest was the result of invalid "confidential police informants" or that you were set up in a way that violated California's entrapment laws.
Will a drug arrest affect my immigration case? If you are a noncitizen and are arrested for a drug crime in California, you may face deportation, exclusion, or loss of a visa or green card status, regardless of whether or not you are convicted. You need a lawyer who understands both criminal and immigration law if you are in this situation. The right attorney can fight to keep you from being deported from the United States and can keep you from losing your opportunity to gain citizenship.