The criminal justice system is complex and confusing to navigate, most especially for those accused of a crime. We at CDM Law understand the impact of your freedom being at stake, and we are here to fight for you. Our expert team of lawyers have put together the answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions. For additional information, contact CDM Law today!
Every person is presumed innocent until the prosecuting authority can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Being arrested is a difficult experience, so it’s important for you to understand your rights. When you are being investigated or have been charged with a crime, you need to exercise your important constitutional rights: (1) REMAIN SILENT; and (2) HIRE AN ATTORNEY. Always be courteous to law enforcement, but don’t speak to them without an attorney present.
Being detained is not the same as being arrested, however, you still have the right to remain silent. In order to detain a person, the police are required to have reasonable suspicion and can legally detain the person in question in order to determine if he or she is connected to a crime. In order to make an arrest, the police have to have a warrant or establish probable cause.
The foundation of the justice system is that law enforcement needs to have justification in order to search you and/or your property to make an arrest. While this usually means a warrant, there are circumstances that police can make an arrest without a warrant. This can be probable cause that you committed a felony offense or an officer witnessed you commit a misdemeanor offense.
After being arrested, you will be taken to the police station. At this point, the officers should inform you of the charges against you and then continue with the typical proceedings, such as fingerprints, photographs and being held until bail is posted or until after the formal arraignment in court.
A preliminary hearing is the first hearing for criminal matters. It is judged by a magisterial district justice and only requires the Commonwealth to prove a prima facie case. A prima facie case means that a crime has been committed and that you are likely the individual who committed the crime. You must attend your preliminary hearing where you will either have a hearing or waive the hearing. After the preliminary hearing you will have a formal arraignment and a court hearing at the Court of Common Pleas to the Judge assigned to your case.
There are a number of basic rights you have after being arrested:
- Right to remain silent
- Right to legal representation
- Right to know the reason for your arrest
- Right to communicate by phone with family, friends, lawyer, etc.
If you are being questioned by or are confronted by the police, ask “am I under arrest?” If the answer is no, then remain silent and leave. If the answer is yes, then remain silent and call CDM LAW. If you are being investigated by the police or are called in for questioning, bring an attorney – do not go alone. Act in accordance with your constitutional rights and hire an Attorney before talking to the police or giving any statement. Everything you say to the police is and will be used against you. Your right to remain silent is of utmost importance and when being questioned by law enforcement, should be exercised to the fullest extent until a criminal lawyer is present to advocate for you.
Every criminal case is unique and should be treated as such. An arrest puts your freedom at risk, which is why it’s crucial to have proper AND experienced legal representation to defend you in your case.
If you are being questioned by the police then it is advisable to have an attorney present. Call CDM Law for a free consultation and we will assist you.
Whether or not you “look” guilty is not relevant – what is relevant is that if you are being investigated, or have been charged with a crime, then you should exercise your constitutional right to have an attorney present with you. It is the burden of the Commonwealth (Prosecutors, Law Enforcement) to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is advisable to always consult with an attorney prior to giving any statements to law enforcement.
ARD is short for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, and is a program that consists of a combination of: probationary period, community service, assessments, classes, rehab, payment of restitution, and other requirements based on your case. If you successfully complete the ARD program you are eligible to have the matter expunged from your record.
CDM LAW is a Montgomery County, PA law firm that handles cases in Pennsylvania. We are not licensed to practice law in any other state.
We are based out of Montgomery County, PA. However, we also serve the rest of the counties in Southeastern, PA: Bucks, Berks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, and other counties for select cases.