Popular Myths about Criminal Law – Part II

We continue our look at popular myths about criminal law and how getting the truth can help you make the best decisions regarding an arrest.

You may be hesitating to come in for a visit because you believe a public defender is going to do a great job of defending you and will have lots of time to pay attention to you and to your case.

Guess again.

Myth #4: A public defender is the best option. What could be better than free legal representation?

Truth: Public defenders are often newer attorneys with little experience. Most handle too many cases. They often do not have the time or the experience that traditional criminal defense attorneys do.

According to a group called Justice Works, here is the current state of public defenders in our nation:

“Across the country, public defender offices are underfunded, understaffed and burdened with insurmountable caseloads.  With too few public defenders handling too many cases, those who cannot afford representation are being denied their fundamental right to counsel, and many are languishing in jail at taxpayers’ expense.”

Get help from someone who truly has your best interests in mind…someone who is working for YOU…not for the court system. Get help from THE UPTON LAW FIRM.

If you’ve been arrested before, this myth has already been busted for you. Unfortunately, too many first time offenders fail to understand the full spectrum of offenses they may be charged with because they believe this myth:

Myth #5: The charges aren’t that serious.

Truth: The charges and penalties you may face will depend on many circumstances, including whether this is your first offense and if other people were involved. Offenses range from petty offenses to misdemeanors to felonies. How you are charged affects the potential penalties you face.

An important step in handling your criminal case is to learn about the penalties you might face if you are charged with certain offenses.

We can provide answers about the following types of cases when you come in for a free consultation:

  • Felony Offenses—Includes crimes such as murder, rape, arson, treason, terrorism, kidnapping, and burglary. A felony is the most serious offense with heavy punishments attached including one or more years in prison and/or fines; restrictions on voting, working in certain fields and owning firearms; difficulty finding a job; and possible deportation for non-citizens.
  • Misdemeanor Offenses—Includes crimes such as petty theft, public intoxication, simple assault, prostitution, disorderly conduct, trespass and vandalism. Consequences may include five days to one year in jail; community service; probation and fines.
  • Infractions—Also known as “petty offenses,” infractions are the least serious offense and usually amount to a violation of local municipal laws. They may include jaywalking, littering, disturbing the peace and some traffic offenses. Consequences may include five days or less in jail, fines and/or an order to fix the offending situation.

While debunking these myths is valuable, THE UPTON LAW FIRM can answer all your outstanding questions in a very short amount of time. We are here to listen. We are here to help. And there is absolutely no obligation to engage our services if you decide to visit our office.

If you’ve watched even one episode of Law and Order, you’re probably familiar with how a plea bargain works. Because plea bargains depicted in the media are usually associated with “serious crimes,” you may have been led to believe this myth:

Myth #6: Plea bargains are only for real criminals.

Truth: If you can’t completely dismiss your case by getting your charges dismissed or winning a not guilty verdict at trial, you may still be able to limit the damage and reduce the penalties through plea bargaining.

A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the state in which the charges against you are dropped or diminished in exchange for your guilty plea to a lesser charge or a lesser sentence. A prosecutor may consider many factors before offering the option to negotiate a plea deal including:

  • The seriousness of the alleged crime
  • The amount of evidence against you
  • The likelihood of the jury finding you guilty at trial

Accepting a plea bargain means you will have to plead guilty to a criminal offense. The benefits of accepting a deal could be:

  • Reduced fines
  • Reduced jail time
  • Having a lesser charge on your criminal record

Facing criminal charges can be a very stressful experience. By speaking with one of our criminal defense lawyers, THE UPTON LAW FIRM can help you calmly assess your situation and perhaps find ways to challenge your case.

It’s important to understand that you cannot casually assume you can receive a retrial just because you didn’t like the outcome of your first trial.