If You Have Been Accused of a Crime, This Advice May Save You From Serious Jail Time

There are many times people get arrested and don’t know how to handle it.  It may be your fist experience with law enforcement.  What if you feel you’ve not committed a crime?  This is a difficult situation.  It’s important to not let a bad situation turn into a serious crime.  There is important information you need to know.

Arrest Advice

If you are arrested, it means that  law enforcement has taken you into custody because they believe you’ve committed a crime.  You are not permitted to leave the scene of the incident.  You can also be held by law enforcement or a period of time for questioning and not be arrested.

This means they believe you have valuable information concerning a crime that was committed.  It’s important to remember there is no legal requirement for you to answer questions by law enforcement. You only have to provide them with your name and address shown on the identification you provided.

Advice for Before You Hear Your Miranda Rights

Should law enforcement place you under arrest, the law requires that they read you your Miranda rights.  Reading of the Miranda rights is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.  If you are not read your Miranda rights, an attorney representing you can ask a judge to not use any statements you may have made to law enforcement.

This has no influence on the dismissal of a case.  It also doesn’t apply if law enforcement did not ask you any questions, but you still supplied them with information.  You need to remember whether or not your Miranda rights have been read to you.

Advice After You Hear Your Miranda Rights

It is legal for members of law enforcement to question you after you’ve been read your Miranda rights. Law enforcement is not required to provide an attorney unless you request one.  If you give up your right to legal counsel prior to being questioned, you need to realize what you’ve lost.

When a person requests an attorney, the questioning by law enforcement must stop immediately. If you continue to speak, anything you say can be used against you in court.  According to the U.S. Constitution, anyone charged with a crime is entitled to speak with a lawyer even if they can’t afford to pay for one.  It is recommended that when you are arrested that you not speak to law enforcement.  You should request to speak with legal counsel first.
Arrest Warrant Advice

If law enforcement has good reason to believe you have committed a crime, a warrant for your arrest could be issued. The warrant has to be signed by a magistrate or a judge.  An arrest warrant enables law enforcement to take someone into custody in their home.

A person may be arrested without a warrant if action is needed to stop them from escaping, destroying evidence associated with the alleged criminal activity, someone’s life is in endanger and more.  It’s important to not resist this detention or arrest.  If someone attempts to resist, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony depending on the situation.

Should you resist, law enforcement can utilize force to take you into custody.  If law enforcement believes you are a threat to cause serious injury, they can use deadly force.

Bail Advice

If you are arrested, you may have to wait months until your trial date.  Jail is not a place people want to be for months.  An experienced attorney will know how to handle a bail hearing.  The amount of your bail will be determined by a judge.

The judge will take into consideration such things as the seriousness of the crime you are charged with and your past criminal history.  Bail is an amount of money paid to a court to make certain the person charged with a crime returns for their trial. If you fail to appear for your court date any bail money paid will be kept by the court.  An arrest warrant will usually be issued for your arrest.

If you feel the bail amount requested by the court is excessive, an attorney can help you get a bail reduction hearing.  A lawyer may also be able to make a case to a judge that you should be released on your own recognizance.  This means you will not have to pay any bail and the judge believes you will return to court for your court date.

Would I Defend The Men That Robbed Me At Gunpoint?

I have been a criminal defense lawyer for over 18 years.  I dedicated my life to defending people who are charged with crimes.  I believe that I am very good at what I do.

I have had a lot of life experiences, but up until three weeks ago I had no experience of being the victim of a gun crime.  It was an ordinary Saturday and I had appointments in my office.  This was not unusual as I worked most Saturdays.  The alarm system had a low battery and it would beep every minute or so, sounding just like the door chime when someone comes into the office.  I tried to shut it off, but could not figure out how.

I had just finished signing up a new client and was sitting at my desk inputting the data in the computer for my staff.  I had my back to the door of my office and the front door of the office was left unlocked.  I heard the door chime, but thought that it was just the low battery chime.  Before I could do anything a man rushed into my office and put a gun in my face.  Another man followed close behind.   He said, “give me the cash”.  I told him that I did not have any cash that I only took credit cards.  He insisted that I had cash.  He started going through my drawers of my desk.  Finally they found the cash that I kept as emergency bond money for clients.  They took the money and tied me up with the telephone cord.  They rushed out of the office taking my cell phone with them.  I called 911 and the police were there quickly.  From my perspective they did a good job processing the crime scene.

I do not consider myself an easy target for crime.  I usually pay attention to my surroundings and have good situational awareness.  But in this case I made some mistakes.  Being in my office alone, I should have locked the front door.  That would have made a big difference.  I was not scared at any time, I was angry that I had made myself such an easy target.

After this event I thought about and have been asked about what I do for a living.  I represent some people who have done some pretty horrific things.  Much worse than what was done to me.  Many people have asked if this experience changed my thinking or approach to what I do.  The answer is no.  I am asked all the time how I can represent such horrible people.  The answer is they are not horrible people, they may have done some horrible things, but they are not horrible people.

The criminal defense attorney is the only thing standing between the police and the citizens.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.   I double check the work of the police to make sure that they are not violating the rights of the citizens.  If the police do their work correctly, the people usually get convicted of something.  When a criminal gets off on a technicality, do not blame the defense attorney, blame the police officer who did not do their job correctly.  All the defense attorney did was call attention to the fact that they violated someone’s constitutional rights.

I like to describe what I do this way.  I have dozens of clients tied to railroad tracks.  In each case there is a train (the government) coming at them.  My job is to try and get them off the tracks, or slow the train down, or divert the train to another track.  In many cases all I can do is sit with them and hold their hand while the train runs over them.  In some cases this is a tragedy.  Sometimes innocent people get run over (railroaded).  In some cases the police violate their rights and I get them off the tracks even though the train should have hit them.  In some cases they only get nipped by the train.  But every day I face the train and I work to get my clients out of harms way, and it never ends.

People ask me if I am upset that two men robbed me.  The answer is not at them, I am upset at myself for allowing it to happen.  If and when the men get caught my hope is that the officers that arrest them treat them with dignity and respect and afford them all their constitutional rights.  If I wished anything less I would be a hypocrite.

If and when they get caught, I will advocate for them (in the role of victim not as counsel) as I do all criminal clients.  I will ask that they be placed on probation, if it is their first offense.  I will ask that they be given drug and or alcohol treatment, if they have a problem.  I want them to be rehabilitated not punished.  Punishing them will make them harder and push them further into a life of crime.  I have seen this personally in my work.  If I asked for anything less, how could I ever again stand before the court in other cases and argue for these things.  I have taken this position in my life’s work and I will take that position now.  Not because I have to, but because I believe in the goodness of my fellow man and I believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

I have been clean and sober for over 23 years.  I am active in recovery.  I was given a second chance.  Now I fight for second chances for my clients and I will fight for a second chance for the men who robbed me.  If the men who robbed me read this, please call me and I will turn you into the police and make sure that you are treated fairly.  While I can not represent you, I will fight as the victim for your second chance.

Dwane Cates

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