Get Answers To Your Criminal Defense FAQs

Most people's knowledge of the criminal justice system comes from the fictionalized portrayals that they see on television. However, once you or a loved one has been arrested, the system suddenly becomes much more complex, confusing and frightening, which is why it is important to get experienced legal counsel on your side as soon as possible.

The following are some of the frequently asked questions people have regarding criminal defense and the criminal justice system. Of course, everyone's situation is different and the following questions should not be taken as legal advice. Our attorney and the legal team at Markert Law, PLLC, can help address your specific questions and help you explore your options for moving forward.

What happens when I'm placed under arrest? Once you have been placed under arrest, the police may do one of two things. First of all, they may choose to release you after having you sign a promise to appear in court at a future date. More frequently the police will take you to jail. At jail, you will be formally booked, which includes being fingerprinted, photographed and having your clothing and property put into storage.

The police read me my rights. Can they punish me if I exercise these rights? By law, the police are required to inform you of your Miranda rights once they have placed you under arrest. Essentially, these rights tell you that you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning and that you also have the right to not say anything to the police.

It is important to exercise these rights, even when you have not been formally arrested. The police will often read your rights and then immediately launch into questioning. There is nothing illegal about this. They may also beg and plead with you, threaten or make promises to you during questioning. However, any time you invoke your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present, all questioning must stop. Invoking these rights is not an admission of guilt. It is your right and it is meant to protect you from being trapped into admitting something you do not want to admit.

How do I get released on bail? If you are arrested and taken to jail, "reasonable" bail must be set. A person will have to put up the full amount of the bail in cash with the court, or a person must post a bond supplied by a bail bondsman. Bail bondsmen require collateral for the bond and they typically charge a nonrefundable fee of 10 percent of the face value of the bail amount. Once bail has been posted, the person who is charged with a crime is given a date to appear for the first court proceeding.

What is an arraignment? This is the first time a defendant will appear in court. Arraignments must take place within 48 hours of a person's arrest, not counting weekends and holidays. At an arraignment the defendant will be advised of the charges against him or her and the right to court-appointed counsel if they cannot afford an attorney, among other things.

Should I plead out or go to trial? You have the option of pleading guilty to the charges filed against you (not recommended), having your lawyer negotiate with the prosecution to reach a settlement that is favorable (plea bargaining), or you can go to trial and have your case decided by a judge or a jury.

If you choose to plead guilty, especially if you do not consult with an attorney beforehand, you are likely to receive a less than favorable sentence. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to plead down to lesser charges or secure a deal that is much better than you would receive should you plead guilty or if you are later found guilty following a trial. In every case, the ultimate decision is up to you. However, your attorney should serve as your guide and staunch advocate, and advise you what is and isn't in your best interests.

Contact Our Dakota County Criminal Defense Attorney To Learn More

Do not take your chances with the justice system alone. We are here for you when you need us. Contact us online or call 651-964-6415 to schedule a free initial consultation. With a law office in Hastings, we provide skilled legal representation to people throughout southeastern Minnesota.