What happens if you are charged with a crime? Under most circumstances, if you are charged with a crime, you will be arrested and taken to jail. The police may read you your rights, photograph you and take your finger prints (booking). If you are arrested without a warrant a judge or court commissioner must determine whether there is enough probable cause to charge you which is usually within 48 hours of your arrest. The 48 hour rule does not apply if you are arrested with a warrant, because a judge has already determined probable cause when the warrant was issued.
The Constitution guarantees you two important rights if you are charged with a crime. The first is the right to remain silent (self-incrimination). This means that you do not have to answer any police questioning which may lead the police to believe that you have committed a crime. The second provides you with the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you are appointed a public defender. However note that it is the state that determines whether you are eligible for a public defender, and that the threshold for this is very small. As soon as you tell the police that you are invoking your right to silence and your right to an attorney they must immediately cease asking you any more questions. If they continue to speak to you, they are violating the Constitution. If you have a disability or a language barrier an interpreter will be provided for you.
Police will try to persuade you to waive your right to remain silent and your right to counsel. They use several techniques that will make you feel small and powerless, and you will want to succumb to their pressure. However, remember that your rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. Be bold and assertive when invoking your rights to the police, however remember that this can and should be performed in a respectable, classy manner.
To get out of jail after you are arrested you must post bail. Sometimes, this can be by way of a signature bond which is a written promise to appear in court. In some circumstances you may be required to provide either a secured surety bond such as property (a car, house, boat, etc) or cash which can be paid by either you or someone else. In some cases, the judge may impose other conditions on you that he or she deems necessary to protect the community. In OWI cases, a condition of bond is that you do not operate a vehicle with any alcohol in your system.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor you may be imprisoned for up to one year depending on the charge. You may get credit for the time you served between the charge and sentencing. A felony charge is much more serious because it can mean a year or more in prison.
Given the gravity of the penalties for violating the law and to ensure that your Constitutional rights have not been violated, it is important to hire an attorney to help you navigate through the criminal justice system.
If you, a friend, or family member have been arrested and you have questions please contact either Attorney Matt McCasland or Andrew Krueger with questions. In the Baraboo area at (608) 356-3961, Madison area at (608) 824-9540 or Statewide at (866) 455-2993. Please check out our website at https://khtlawyers.com. Remember, at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC we listen, we care, we get results!