Alabama Criminal Defense
Being arrested and charged with a crime is a difficult process that can affect every aspect of your life. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime you undoubtedly have questions We have compiled a list of some of the most common questions below, but if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime and you would like to speak to an attorney, call us at 205-533-9202
I was arrested. What does that mean?
An arrest is a type of detention. When you have been arrested, you are not free to leave the scene. There are other types of detentions for shorter periods that are not considered arrests. For example you can be held for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime. Shopowners can also detain you for a reasonable amount of time if they suspect you of stealing. A person who is arrested or detained is only required to show identification and answer basic questions about their identity and address.
What is TASC?
TASC is short for Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities. The TASC Program in Jefferson County is a program run through the University of Alabama Birmingham that provides case management for individuals who are charged with crimes or adjudicated guilty. TASC provides several pretrial services like random drug screens and referrals to substance abuse treatment facilities and personal development initiatives like jobs club and parenting classes. In some cases, TASC will make bond for individuals who are unable to afford bond on their own.
When should I see a lawyer?
If you are arrested for a crime, particularly a serious one, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will have a better sense of what you should and should not say to law enforcement officers in order to avoid being misinterpreted or misunderstood. The lawyer also can advise you, your family, and/or friends on the bail process.
What are my rights?
Whether you are an adult citizen or non-citizen, you have certain constitutionally guaranteed rights. These "Miranda Rights" require law enforcement to tell you the following before questioning you: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. If you are not given these warnings, and you are questioned while in custody, your attorney can ask the court to refuse to allow the prosecution to present evidence of any statements you made to the police during trial. However, this does not necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed and does not apply if you volunteer information without being questioned by the police.
Can the police question me?
You can be questioned, without a lawyer present, if you voluntarily give up your rights and if you understand what you are giving up. If you agree to the questioning, but later change your mind, questioning must stop when you say that you want a lawyer. If the questioning continues after you request a lawyer and you continue to talk, your answers can be used against you if you testify inconsistently. You may be required to give certain physical evidence. For example, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol you may be requested to take a test to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. If you refuse to take the test, your driver's license will be suspended and the refusal will be used against you in court.
What is bond and how do I get it?
Bond is a security set to ensure your continued appearance in court. Bonds can be a cash bond, a property bond or a signature bond. Some people decide to use the services of Bailbonds companies. Those services are often expensive and should usually only be used as a last resort. If your bond is high, your attorney may request a bond reduction. The judge will consider such things as the kind of crime, whether a weapon or firearm was used in the commission of the offense, your criminal history and your ties to the community. If you are unable to make bond, you may be held in custody until your case is resolved.
What happens if I cannot make bond?
Unfortunately, you will have to stay in jail until your case is resolved. If you are convicted of the same offense, the time you serve while awaiting trial may be counted towards your eventual sentence.
What happens at the first setting?
You have a right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay; usually within two court days of being arrested. At your first setting, you will appear before a district court judge who will officially state the criminal charges against you. During this time, an attorney may be appointed to you if you cannot afford to retain one. Also, your bond may be raised, lowered or you can request to be released on your own recognizance.
What happens at the preliminary hearing?
The purpose of this hearing is for the State to present sufficient evidence to establish probable cause. Probable cause means, quite simply, that more likely than not an offense was committed and the defendant is the one that committed it. Usually only the detective and/ or victim testify at the preliminary hearing, and hearsay may be admissible. If the judge finds from the evidence that probable cause exists, he or she will bind the case over for consideration by the Grand Jury.
What happens at the Grand Jury?
The Grand Jury is a group of citizens empanelled by the District Attorney's Office to determine if probable cause exists to issue an indictment. Only felony matters are presented to the Grand Jury. There is no judge presiding over the proceedings. Neither the defendant nor his counsel is present, and only the State’ s side is presented. There is no cross-examination and there are no defense witnesses. Grand Jury members vote whether to No Bill or True Bill a case. If the matter is True Billed, an indictment is issued and the case is assigned to a Circuit Court judge.
What happens in the Circuit Court?
This is the trial level of the criminal justice system. Once an indictment is returned from the Grand Jury and the matter is assigned to a Circuit Court judge, the case will be set for a Pre-trial Conference. At that time, the district attorney and the defendant's counsel will attempt to reach a settlement. If a plea agreement is not reached, the case will be set for Trial.
The purpose of this section is to provide general information on the law, which is subject to change. If you have a specific legal problem, consult an attorney.
The following language is required pursuant to Rule 7.2, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship