You may believe if you are facing a minor criminal charge such as a DUI or battery in Florida, you can handle your own defense. These are among the lowest charges you might be facing, and you may think you can handle them without the added expense of a criminal defense lawyer. This would be a mistake on your part, since you could face jail time, substantial fines, and probation. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer at Gallagher & Hagopian before answering any questions from law enforcement officers could help you protect your rights and may result in your not having to deal with these penalties.
You have a Fifth Amendment right to not answer any questions without legal counsel. You should exercise that right immediately upon being arrested and read your Miranda Rights by law enforcement and refuse to provide any information apart from your personal information, including name, address, and date of birth. Otherwise, when law enforcement tells you anything you say can and will be used against you — believe them.
No Contest Does Not Mean Not Guilty
One of the first things you may be offered by a prosecutor if you do not hire a criminal defense lawyer is a no-contest plea. What this means is you are not disputing the facts of the criminal case, although in most cases, the prosecutor will allow you to avoid accepting guilt. The upside of this is you will not have this charge used against you in any future civil or criminal case. However, a no contest plea does not always mean you will escape the consequences of a guilty finding. Prosecutors will often use these pleas to bargain with a defendant in a criminal case. At Gallagher & Hagopian we generally advise against this option unless this is the best option.
Before you accept any no contest plea, you should seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer at Gallagher & Hagopian because they will be able to tell you about the long-term ramifications of such a plea. Remember, no matter how minor the charge, you should avoid attempting to defend yourself. Instead, contact Gallagher & Hagopian immediately and protect your rights before you say anything to the police.
There is something else to remember, you may not be arrested, but instead you may be asked to provide information to police regarding another crime where you may know one of the persons involved. In these cases, it is still a good idea to seek guidance from a criminal defense lawyer at Gallagher & Hagopian before you answer any questions. You never know when you could potentially be implicated in something you had nothing to do with because of an answer you supplied to law enforcement officers.
It is important to remember a DUI arrest could result in your loss of employment if you are convicted, in addition to the other penalties you could be facing. You want to minimize any potential fines, jail time, and impact on your future if you are facing any criminal charge and the best way to do that is to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and help you fight back against the charges you are facing. Regardless of the charges you are facing, contact a criminal defense lawyer at Gallagher & Hagopian immediately after your arrest if possible, or otherwise, as soon as you are released from police custody. The key to protecting your rights is to not discuss the charges with police before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer.