Criminal Law Questions
Generally speaking, a felony is a crime for which a person could receive MORE than 3 years in prison. A Misdemeanor is a crime punishable by a term of 3 years or less in prison.
The State Legislature has established the potential penalties for all crimes, both Misdemeanors and Felonies. Typically each crime has a range of penalties and it is up to the Judge to decide what exact penalty will be imposed if the person is convicted.
The first thing you should do when arrested is invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent and refused to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Next you need to contact a criminal defense attorney and set up a consultation to discuss your case. This should be done as soon as possible as waiting too long can have a detrimental affect of some of your rights.
In general, yes. You will have a bond hearing in front of a judge shortly after your arrest (typically within hours but it could be a day or so). The judge will make a determination, based on the alleged crime committed, your prior criminal record, and other relevant factors whether you are a danger to the community or a substantial risk of flight. If the judge determines that you are a flight risk or danger to the community, you could be denied bond and held in jail. If not, the judge with grant a bond. They can release you on your own recognizance (a PR bond) or require a cash bond or surety bond. A cash bond requires your someone on your behalf to put up a certain amount of money to secure your release. A surety bond requires someone such as a bail bondsman to agree to pay the bond if you fail to return for court.
While it is not required to have a lawyer at your initial bond hearing, your freedom is at stake and hiring a criminal defense attorney could be the difference between getting a bond or not.
Your major rights are the right to have a lawyer represent you and the right to remain silent. You also have many other rights such as the right to a jury trial and the right to confront witnesses against you. All of these rights and many more can be explained to you by your criminal defense attorney.
For certain crimes it is possible to have those convictions expunged from your record. A criminal defense attorney can inform you on whether or not you can receive an expungement. Even if you cannot get a conviction expunged, you still may be able to receive a pardon which does not erase the conviction but it does restore rights you may have lost as a result of the conviction. Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more.
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