Articles Tagged with Arrest

For the past twenty years or so, Alabama laws have been changing in order to address the problem of violence among those in family relationships. These Domestic Violence laws supplement existing laws such as assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, or harassment if the alleged victim “is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant” (Code of Alabama, § 13A-6-132)

 

In many cases, the “Domestic Violence” designation can result in an increased penalty upon a conviction, and even in the deprivation of civil rights such as the right to possess a firearm.  In nearly every case, however, it results in differences in the way cases are handled.

 

It is the practice in most courts that a person arrested for an offense involving domestic violence is immediately served with a protective order that seeks to prevent further incidents, and sometimes forbids any contact at all between the accused and the alleged victim. Violations of these orders can lead to additional charges being brought against the accused. Because of this. it is important to carefully read these protective orders and strictly comply with their contents.

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When a person is under 21 years of age at the time they allegedly commit a criminal offense, Alabama law allows them to be treated by the Court as a “Youthful Offender.”  What is Youthful Offender (YO) status and what does it mean for me if I qualify?

When a person is granted YO by a judge, this designation has several benefits, some of them substantial.

First and foremost, if the charged offense is a felony, YO drastically reduces the range of punishment in the case to a maximum sentence of three years. Depending on the level of felony offense involved, this can be an important benefit. Even for a class “C” felony, a YO designation would reduce the maximum time of incarceration from 10 years to 3 years.

Equally importantly, the granting of YO has the effect of sealing the record of the case. Any record of the charge, arrest, and court proceedings are made off limits and are not accessible to anyone not involved in the case. This can be important as a young person embarks on their life and applies for jobs or educational opportunities.

Once a person has been granted YO status, even if they are found guilty of the charged offense, it will not show up on their record as a conviction. Instead, the court will treat it as an adjudication, and none of the usual effects of a conviction will apply. A person adjudicated as a Youthful Offender will not be deprived of their civil rights such as the right to vote or the right to carry a firearm.

The trade-off is that in order to be treated as a Youthful Offender, a person must forefeet their right to a trial by jury, and any trial would be before a judge only in a proceeding that is closed to the public.

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handcuff-449966-mNo one wants to find themselves the subject of a police investigation, or under arrest for any criminal charge, no matter how minor.  Many of us are unprepared and lack the knowledge of how to conduct ourselves in that situation.  The information below will help you to handle that situation in the best way possible.

  1. You have the right to remain silent.  Use it.  There are few if any situations in which it is to a person’s advantage to make a statement to law enforcement.  If you choose to do so, it should be under the supervision of your lawyer, after a careful negotiation.  Be polite, but be firm.  Tell law enforcement that you want a lawyer present before answering any questions.  The law requires them to cease questioning.
  2. Do not consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or home, unless shown a search warrant.  You have a right to privacy.  Governmental entities such as police officers cannot search you, your vehicle, or your home without probable cause or a search warrant.  If you consent to a search, the issue of probable cause is waived and cannot be raised in court.  Again, when asked, politely refuse permission to search.
  3. Be respectful, and never get physical.  No one stands a chance of winning an argument or a physical confrontation with law enforcement officers.  Arguing with officers only makes things harder and can never be to your benefit.  Often, prosecutors will consult with their officers before reducing or dismissing charges.  If you make an officer angry with you, it decreases your chances for a good result from your case.
  4. Don’t give false information or documentation to the police.  You have the duty to give accurate identifying information to law enforcement.  If you lie about your identity or provide false documents, this can, at best, make your case more difficult, and at worst can lead to additional misdemeanor and/or felony charges.
  5. Don’t tell anyone that you have been arrested.  Outside of your immediate family, no one needs to be aware of your arrest.  If everyone in town knows you have been arrested, it limits the options that you and your lawyer can later explore.
  6. Don’t talk with anyone about your case.  When charged with a crime, you cannot trust anyone except a lawyer who is ethically bound to hold all information in the strictest confidence.
  7. Immediately consult with a competent lawyer.  The sooner a lawyer gets involved in your case, the more good he or she can do.  Meet with your lawyer and truthfully explain the facts about your case.  Make sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer.  If the lawyer makes promises or guarantees, that is a warning sign that the lawyer is not being honest with you.

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