Criminal Defense and DUI Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Citizens

What to Expect Beginning Your Criminal Defense Case

If the police have arrested you and the police want a statement, what do you do? To protect your rights, the very first thing you should do is ask to speak to a lawyer. Criminal defense begins from the moment you stand suspected or accused of a crime. Hatcher Law Offices wants you to know that the police often make promises of leniency or say it is your duty to cooperate. However, once you are a suspect, the police are not your friends. If they are asking you questions, or make promises trying to get you to make a statement, you may be a suspect. This means everything you say in their presence can be used against you, so tell them nothing. Ask for a lawyer and do not speak to anyone until your lawyer arrives.

Do not let their promises or threats scare you into talking when it can become evidence. If the police charge you, it is because they already have evidence against you. If they don’t have evidence, they will not. If you talk to them, the only evidence they ever get may be your own statement!

What to Expect After an Arrest

If arrested, police will take you to your local jail, and you will go through processing, including fingerprinting and photographing. You can expect to stay in a holding cell until you go before a magistrate or judge. Their role is to set a bail bond, and see if you need an attorney. Unless the violence of your alleged crime is extreme, you should have the option for release on bond.

Certain charges, such as murder, may have no bond at all. Minor offenses may see you released on a personal recognizance bond, but these are rare.

Understanding the Process of Setting Bail

Usually, a bail bondsman will charge a fixed percentage of the bail amount as their fee for posting the bond. A typical amount is ten percent. They are basically making you a loan to purchase your temporary release. If you fail to appear in court, the bondsman loses his money and can come looking for you or your family’s assets to pay him back. You will not get this money back when your case is over. A date is set for you to appear before a judge for an “arraignment.” This is the time when you may plead guilty or innocent. If you have not already done so, you will need to hire a lawyer. In order to have the court appoint an attorney, you will have to provide evidence that you cannot afford one. After the arraignment, your case may be set for at least one hearing date for you to decide whether or not to enter a plea bargain. There may be settings for Motion Hearings and other hearings at this time.

Hatcher Law Offices Explains Felony Charges

Felony charges may bring you to indictment by a Grand Jury before your case proceeds to trial. A grand jury is a panel of people who hear the State’s version of the evidence and decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. You have no legal right to present evidence at this hearing or even attend. If you do attend, you have no right to legal counsel in the hearing room. You do not need to testify at the hearing.

What Happens After the Indictment Process?

After indictment, a prosecutor may offer you a plea recommendation. You are not required to enter any kind of plea bargain. In a criminal case, you basically have two choices at any time: (1) you can negotiate and enter a plea agreement; or (2) set your case for trial and let a jury decide. No one can make the prosecutor offer a better deal than they offer. They cannot make you accept a plea recommendation that you do not want. If you refuse the offer and cannot reach an agreement, then trial is your only alternative.

Criminal Trial by Jury and Your Rights

A criminal trial is different than a civil case. The prosecutor goes first in selecting a jury, making their opening statement, presenting witnesses, and making their closing argument. In some states, the prosecutor gives his or her closing argument first and last. You do not have to testify at trial. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution gives you the right to not testify. This can be important. If you testify and have many prior convictions, the prosecutor will get to talk to the jury about these prior offenses. If you do not testify, the jury may never hear about these prior offenses.

What Happens After a Criminal Defense Trial?

In a jury trial, your experiences carry a lot of weight with the jurors and what they believe. This may mean that if the jury hears about your prior offenses, they may be more likely to accept the prosecutor’s version of the case, and that you committed the crime with which you are being charged. In some instances, it can be better to not testify, if you have a prior criminal record. In the end, if the jury finds you are not guilty, you are free to go home. If they find you guilty, you proceed to sentencing. Possible consequences of a conviction are incarceration in the Department of Corrections, incarceration in a State Jail facility, incarceration in the County Jail, probation, fines, and many other possibilities.

Find a Trustworthy Criminal Defense Attorney at Hatcher Law Offices

This describes an average experience with the criminal justice system. There may be some differences, depending on where you received a charge. Many court procedures aim to intimidate you into entering a plea bargain. Large crowds and audiences will be at virtually every hearing. Prosecutors and court personnel will be pushing people through like a herd of cattle, with the object of disposing of cases as quickly as possible. Hatcher Law Offices will throw a wrench in their works by establishing early on that they cannot dispose of your case quickly, and that you will not take whatever ‘bargains’ they feel like offering. This is why it is important to have a strong criminal defense attorney working with you on your criminal case.

DUI Arrest Information Pertaining to West Virginia Law

West Virginia DUI law is similar to that of many other states, in that a West Virginia DUI arrest triggers two separate and unrelated cases. DUI laws in West Virginia provide for a criminal court case, where DUI punishment includes jail, fines, educational programs, and the possibility of requiring an ignition interlock, driver’s license suspension, and more. It also gives rise to a second case in the Division of Motor Vehicles, where your West Virginia driving privileges are at stake. The West Virginia DUI DMV court action is separate and apart from the criminal court action. It requires you (or your lawyer) to act quickly to save your license following an arrest for driving under the influence in West Virginia.

Importance of Blood Alcohol Levels for a DUI Charge

If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher, you have a high risk of receiving a driving under the influence charge; however, police consider BAC levels of more than .05 and less then .08 relevant evidence to presume you were operating a vehicle with your ability impaired. You may still lose your license if your BAC is under the legal limit of .08.

Hatcher Law Offices Represents First Offenders in WV

Even a first offense can bring penalties as determined by the court. These include:

Jail: One day to six months’ time; mandatory minimum is one day.

Fines: $100 to $500; mandatory minimum of $100.

License Suspension: Six months to one year. Reinstatement Fee: $65

Community Service: May serve as an alternative to imprisonment.

Under 21: If you are under age 21 and any amount of alcohol is in your system, you stand to lose your driver’s license for 60 days.

Under 18: If you are under age 18, a DUI offense will result in revocation of your driver’s license until you reach the age of 18 or the applicable statutory period of revocation/suspension, whichever is longest.

Assessment: All DUI offenders, following conviction, require an alcohol assessment to determine the nature and extent of their alcohol problems. You pay for the testing.

Education/Treatment: Any time your license is revoked for DUI, you must successfully complete a prescribed safety and treatment program before you will be eligible to reinstate your driving privileges. You pay for any program or treatment fees.

Test Refusal: Should you refuse a breath, blood, or urine test, you face a one-year license suspension. People who refuse to submit to a chemical test must successfully complete an alcohol education or treatment program before the reinstatement of their driver’s license.

Alcohol Interlock: The license suspension penalty can be reduced if you agree to participate in an ignition interlock program. West Virginia is the only state where the DMV controls and administers the ignition interlock program. It is voluntary and incentive-based for eligible offenders. Eligibility depends on participating in, or completing, a safety and treatment program. There is a $25 application fee, and the device costs approximately $105. A local insurance company offers discounts for eligible DUI offenders, which helps to offset the penalty rates by about 50 percent.

Treatment: Assessment determines the depth of treatment required of first offenders. Phase I consists of three, 18-hour components. Phase II (for more serious offenders, such as if you BAC was above .15) includes attendance at group meetings and abstinence testing. Costs for these vary and you must pay.

Insurance: Your insurance rates will probably climb considerably, and your insurance carrier may drop you. Rates for family members and sometimes your employer can increase as well.

More Serious Charges: You risk a felony DUI charge (leading to much greater penalties, possibly) if involved in a car accident involving serious injury or death.

If arrested for a DUI or impairment charge, call Hatcher Law Offices at (800) 554-7198.

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