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CRIMINAL DEFENSE INFORMATION
What are the different roles of law enforcement?
In the United States, it is important to understand there are different law enforcement agencies possessing different powers and jurisdictions. Mainly, there are three types of law enforcement agencies in the U.S.: local, state, and federal.
- City Police Department and County Sheriff’s Office are a part of the local law enforcement agencies. Their main functions are law and order maintenance. These include Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept., Las Vegas City Marshals Office, Clark County Park Police Department, etc.
- Most states operate statewide government agencies that provide law enforcement duties, including investigations and state patrols. In the State of Nevada, we have the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Nevada Capitol Police, Nevada Highway Patrol, Investigation Division, Nevada Probation Parole, etc.
- The Federal agencies have nationwide jurisdiction for enforcement of federal law. For example, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, United States Secret Service and others.
What exactly does it mean when an officer says, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law....”
In the United States, there are laws which protect people who are arrested for crimes. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he or she wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must stop. If the individual states that he or she wants a lawyer, the interrogation must cease until a lawyer is present. At that time, the individual must have an opportunity to talk with the attorney and to have him or her present during any subsequent questioning. These rights are called Miranda rights. It is important to note that police are only required to say this to a suspect if they intend to interrogate that person under custody.
Should I talk to the police when arrested?
When a person is arrested, it is best to remain silent. The police cannot force the person to talk or confess their crimes. Anything that the person says to the police will become evidence if they go to court for the crime. Hence is best to avoid making a statement or signing anything. Ask to speak with an attorney. Hiring a criminal defense attorney to intervene on your behalf is the wisest thing to do. You have the right to an attorney. If you’re unable to afford a private criminal defense attorney, you may be able to obtain a court-appointed lawyer to represent you.
Do I need to go to the police station for answering questions if asked?
You can in a polite manner refuse to go. However, if the police have good enough cause to believe that you have committed a crime, then they may issue you an arrest warrant. Therefore, it is suggested that you hire an experienced criminal lawyer to be present with you before you visit the police station to answer questions.
Should you resist an arrest if you are innocent?
The simple answer is DO NOT resist. Whether the arrest is unfair, unjust or unlawful will be determined in the court of law. Resisting arrest can result in far more serious charges and may even result in you getting hurt. As a tip, keep your hands visible, do not put them into your pocket, etc., and do not approach the officer unless you have been asked to do so.
What happens after you have been arrested?
After a person is arrested, they will be “booked” at the police department. During this process, the police will ask for basic information about yourself (such as your address and date of birth – your identifiers), and fingerprint and photograph you. You may also be asked to provide a handwriting sample.
As long as the question is somehow related to your stay while in jail, it will be considered routine booking questions. If the questions start to involve the reason for your arrest, then the questioning becomes a “custodial interrogation.” A custodial interrogation is where you are asked questions after you have been arrested and are still in the custody of the police. Before you can be asked questions while you are in custody, the police must read you a set of “Miranda Warnings.”
What happens after booking?
After booking, you will be held until you are arraigned. Arraignment is the defendant’s first court appearance. This hearing will usually take place within 48 hours. At the arraignment the judge reads the charges against the defendant, and asks how the defendant would like to plea. A defendant can enter a plea of “not guilty,” of “no contest,” or of “guilty.”
The bail is set within the court’s discretion and on a case-by-case basis. In most cases the bail bond is set on the day of the arraignment or sometimes before the arraignment. In some cases, the court can also release a defendant without bail; this is called an “own recognizance release” (or release).