FAQ What are my rights? Right to an Attorney: You have the right to an attorney during court proceedings. If you qualify with low income you may be entitled to a public defender or court appointed attorney. Right to Remain Silent: You have the right not to self incriminate yourself and not to be forced to confess without notice of your constitutional rights. Right of Notice: You have the right to be notified of the reason you are being detained. You must be given a written copy of all charges. You have the right to bail in most cases. Right to a Jury Trial: You have a right to a “speedy” and public trial for most crimes. The jury verdict must be unanimous. You are “presumed innocent” and must be found guilty beyond “a reasonable doubt.” Right to Confront Witnesses: You have the right to question any witnesses face to face. Right to Offer Evidence at Trial: You have the right to offer testimony from witnesses and evidence to establish a reasonable doubt. What should I do if I’m charged with a crime? The categories of crime include summaries, misdemeanors, and felonies. When you are charged with a crime or suspected of a crime (especially a misdemeanor or felony) you have rights. The two most important rights you have are the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present at all stages of the process. You should make no statements and contact Mooney & Associates at 877-632-4656 as soon as possible. We are available 24/7. Why should I be concerned by criminal charges? Conviction of a crime can subject you to penalties such as fines, imprisonment, or both. The more serious the crime, the more severe the penalty. Conviction of a crime can be used against you if you are charged with a crime again in the future. For example, an earlier charge may be used in a pre-sentence report and may result in a more severe sentence for the current crime. In addition, in such cases as shoplifting, the first conviction is recorded and if you are charged for the same crime again, you will no longer be charged as with a summary but will be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a more severe penalty. Conviction of a crime may mean loss of a constitutional right such as the right to bear arms. A criminal charge is serious not only because of the punishment which you may incur now, but also because how it may affect your future. A criminal record may cause problems in your employment opportunities. Sometimes even the least serious crimes may prevent you from obtaining certain types of employment or cause you to lose your job. What should I do if I am stopped by a police officer while operating a motor vehicle? Police may ask you to identify yourself. Provide your license, registration and insurance card to them without making any statements. They may attempt to question you, but politely respond that you wish to evoke your right to remain silent. They may also issue a citation to you for a summary offense. If you wish to dispute the charge, bring the citation to Mooney & Associates to determine whether there is a defense to the charges or whether we can get the charge reduced. Remember, it is a crime to resist arrest by police. The officer may use reasonable force if necessary to make the arrest. You should not resist an officer arresting you or interfere in the arrest of another person. If an officer takes you into custody or otherwise deprives you of your freedom, informs you of your rights or that you are under arrest and indicated that you are being held for a crime, you have been arrested. When may the police conduct a search? Not all police searches require a search warrant. If you consent to a police search of you or your property, the police do not need a warrant and any evidence found may be used against you. Also, if illegal items are in “plain view,” such as the front seat of your car, police may take such evidence and use it against you. If you are arrested, the police may not need a warrant or your consent to “search.” Prior to an arrest, police may conduct a “pat-down” to determine if a person is carrying a weapon. A warrant or consent is not necessary for this search. Also, after an arrest, police are allowed to “frisk” a person to determine whether he/she is carrying weapons or other illegal items. Police are also permitted to search the immediate area for their safety. There are other instances in which the police are not legally required to obtain a warrant or your consent prior to a “search and seizure.” If you feel that the police have improperly searched you or your property, you should discuss the matter with Mooney & Associates. If you think that your rights are being violated, remember exactly what is being done and tell your attorney about it as soon as possible.