Criminal Law FAQs

I can’t make an opinion here because the law is the law and what I do is apply the facts to the law.  I do not really have any opinion as to lowering the intoxication level; however, since the passage of Melanie’s Law there are enhanced penalties for junior operators, repeat offenders, regarding any levels of intoxication.  Currently there are enhanced penalties for increased levels of breathalyzer readings tests already in place.  The law does not state that it is illegal to have a drink and drive, however it does state that any impairment or intoxication while driving or under the influence is against the law.  There are significant consequences already associated with the .08 level of intoxication as defined by law which include a loss of license, may include an alcohol driver education program, a victim/witness fee, a head injury fee, and other statutory and probationary fees imposed as well as alcohol driver education programs.

Even if you may not have pled guilty, the answer is YES – your prior offenses can be used against you. If, in the past, you pled guilty continuance without a finding (CWOF), or your probation was surrendered, the answer is also YES. Anytime you are arrested, the criminal record department makes an entry into the database. It is available for viewing by judges and other law enforcement individuals.
Many offenses come down to one word against the other. Many time you have to look at all the elements and may have to approach this another way.

In the American system of justice, you don’t have to prove that you are innocent. The state has to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

At Quintal Law, we work with you to poke little holes in a criminal case, and burst the prosecutor’s “bubble”. If a case doesn’t rise to a level of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, then that bubble may burst. If it rises to a level of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, then the prosecutor will lose the case.

Even a misunderstanding can have criminal implications and you should be aware you may incriminate yourself. Anything that you say can and will be used against you. It is preferable to speak to an attorney before speaking with the police.
There are many exceptions under the warrant requirement and they include:

  • Public safety issues (such as the Boston Marathon Bombers endangering a community with a weapon of mass destruction)
  • Concerns about the destruction of evidence
  • Commissions of a crime (.i.e. a person is in a house and is actively committing a crime) and the police need to check on the safety of the occupants
Once paperwork has been filed, judges and courts are reluctant to dismiss a case before hearing all he facts. In fact, it is similar to trying to stop a moving train. The inertia is toward moving a case forward and getting a conviction. Unless there is some reason for nondisclosure, privilege that applies or other reason, the state will prosecute active cases. Also the state does not want to dismiss a case and later find a subsequent action of the same nature. Courts, police, and district attorneys like to eere on the side of caution when dismissing.
You may be thinking, “Can’t I call up my wife or the other person who is pressing charges and apologize and ask them to drop it?”. What should I do?”

Your job may be on the line especially if the crime has a collateral consequence of loss of license (which is necessary for your job). Depending on the classification of your job, the amount of time off needed for court appearances and the crime that you are charged with, you may need to plan for how an employer will react and re-read policies and proceedures regarding your position. Once a party involves  the police they are no longer the leader in prosecuting the charge. The state takes over prosecution and ordinarily does not simply like to dismiss charges based on someone’s word. The state is often concerned that the victim may be threatened or forced to change their mind. Many cases go on for a great deal of time. Also if there is independant evidence outside the other’s party to prosecute, the other party will have no claim to force the Commonwealth to dismiss.

Can (should) I represent myself? It was just a squabble. (Kerri – even I – a lawyer -would not represent myself because of the emotional entanglement. (explain) I would not recommend people represent themselves because often these issues are of an emotional component and you are not able to think rationally and objectively. Often times court room practice, rules, and issuing orders by the judge may be completely overlooked if you do not understand the ramifications of them. A warning of bail revocation is extremely important and is often overlooked by pro se litigants. If a person is charged with another crime while the current matter is pending, the personal recognizance can be revoked and they could be incarcerated for up to 60 days (this is an extremely important, because the law does not say you must be convicted to serve the 60 days just charged.
A case is like a big puzzle. You can’t see what the end result will be until you start to piece it together. Lawyers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case and let you decide how to ultimately dispose of your case. Beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean beyond all certainty but only a moral certainty. The term is often used but not often easily defined. Learn the facts of your case before jumping to conclusions. There are evidence rules and court rules that must be followed in order to get a piece of your evidence in

The police called me up and asked me to come in to talk. Do I have to go?

Sometimes the things that you say may incriminate you because of your lack of knowledge of the law. Something that you consider no big deal can ultimately be considered a crime by the police or law enforcement. Also remember the police have heard only one side of the story and you generally were not privy to that information but are now being asked questions to respond to that in which you don’t even have a foundation on. Be careful what you say, those warnings given are for very good reason and should be taken very seriously. You can be arrested on the spot if there is a warrant, the police believe you have or are commiting a crime.