Lawyers are ready to help during these stressful times. Schedule your consultation >
Free Online Legal Resources
No. A criminal suspect's Miranda rights include being told they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. However, these are two separate rights and you must invoke both of them for both to be effective. If you tell the police you do not want to talk, they must stop questioning you. But if you only tell the police you do not want to talk they are not required to provide you with an attorney or ensure that you acquire an attorney on your own. If you tell the police you want an attorney the police must then stop questioning you until you have an attorney present. Do not ask the police if they think you need an attorney. The police have no requirement to tell you, and simply asking if you should have an attorney does not invoke your right to one, the police may continue questioning you. To ensure that all of your rights are protected invoke your explicit right to an attorney.
You have the right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay usually within a few court days after being arrested. You will appear before a judge who will tell you officially of the charges against you at your first arraignment. At the arraignment, an attorney may be appointed for you if you cannot afford one, and bail can be raised or lowered. You also can ask to be released on personal recognizance, even if bail was previously set.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment. Or, if the court approves, you can plead nolo contendere, meaning that you will not contest the charges. Legally, this is the same as a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you in a noncriminal case.
Before pleading guilty to some first time offenses, such as drug possession in small amounts for personal use, you may want to find out if your county has any drug diversion programs. Under these programs, instead of fining you or sending you to jail, the court may order you to get counseling which can result in dismissal of the charges if you complete the counseling.
If misdemeanor charges are not dropped, a trial will be held later in county court of law. If you are charged with a felony, however, and the charges are not dismissed, the next step is a preliminary hearing.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.