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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The criminal justice system is complicated and often very nuanced; that’s why talking with an attorney is usually the best way to get your questions answered. However, there are some basics that can be learned here, and for everything else, gives us a call.


When do I have to go to court?

In most cases the court will mail you paperwork that lets you know when your court appearance is. However, missing court is a very serious thing, so it is important you either call the court, or call us to check your next court date.


Am I going to go to jail?

This depends on your charges, the facts of your case, and your criminal history. In most justice court cases, you will likely not do any jail time. That might not be true in your case, however, If you have an extensive criminal history. Give us a call and tell us about your situation and we can tell you what might happen in your case. 


Do I need to hire an attorney?

As a criminal defense firm, our answer to this may be biased but it is also a resounding yes. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney then the court may appoint a public defender to your case. But in most scenarios, if you can hire a private attorney, you should. Public defenders handle dozens of cases every day, making it very difficult to give your case the proper time and attention. Not only may a private attorney improve the outcome of your case. But having someone by your side as you navigate the criminal justice process is an invaluable thing.


What should I wear to court?

Most courts do not allow you in the courtroom if you’re wearing shorts or a tank top. Going one step further, the nicer you look, the more likely the judge is to believe that you’re not a risk to re-offend, which is a huge concern for most judges when they sentence an individual. Also dressing nice shows the judge you are taking your case seriously. 


Do you do payment plans?

In some situations yes, give us a call and we’ll talk more about this possibility.


What is a Plea in Abeyance?

A Plea in Abeyance (PIA) is a very favorable outcome for most criminal cases. What it means is that the individual being charged with the crime agrees to plead guilty.  It may be pleading guilty to the crime they were originally charged with, or a lesser charge the prosecutor agreed to. In exchange, for basically “giving in” and pleading guilty the court agrees to hold the plea in abeyance, meaning they don’t enter the conviction right away. Instead, if the individual follows the terms of the agreement, then at the end of the plea in abeyance period the court dismisses the case and a conviction never goes on the individual’s record. Often the terms of a plea in abeyance include things like: pay a fine, take a class, or not get in any more trouble for a year.


Will this go on my criminal record?

The answer to this question is yes and maybe. There are two things that can show up on a person’s criminal record. The first and lessor thing that shows up is an arrest or citation record. This just means that your record shows that you were charged with a crime. So even if your case is dismissed or you win at trial and maintain your innocence, your record will still show that you were charged with an offense.

The second thing, which is usually much more important, is a conviction. Most background checks or job interviews, etc. want to know about convictions. If your case is dismissed or you successfully complete a Plea in Abeyance then there is no conviction. If you are found guilty or plead guilty to any offense, you will have a conviction on your record. That includes whether you plead guilty to the original offense or a lessor offense, as part of a deal. The good news is that there is a way to expunge both types of blemishes on your record. Both citation/arrest records and convictions can be wiped clean in certain scenarios. Call us to find out more about expungements.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Peterson Legal PLLC