Criminal defense is a big umbrella with a lot of different kinds of cases within it. Every criminal defense case is different. However, there are some frequently asked questions that come up. Here’s a good place to start if you are facing criminal charges.
If you believe the police have identified you as a person of interest or suspect in a criminal investigation, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney right away. Having already hired a lawyer when they question you makes it easier to protect your rights. It might even stop the police from charging you with a crime.
A grand jury indictment is the formal start of criminal felony charges in Kentucky. Sometimes indictments happen unexpectedly, but other potential criminal defendants find themselves waiting for the other shoe to drop. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of your arraignment if you are in custody, or 20 days if you are out on bail. After that hearing, the grand jury has 60 days to issue its indictment if you are in jail. On the 61st day you will be released from custody automatically. However, if you are not in jail, there is no limit on how long the grand jury can deliberate.
Kentucky was the first state to outlaw bail bondsmen, but it does still allow judges to impose bail as part of its pretrial release program. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, a pretrial officer will interview you as part of a “pretrial risk assessment” to measure the risk you will flee or commit new crimes while your trial is pending. Your judge will issue a pretrial release order which may require you to pay a cash or property bond related to the severity of your case. It can also include nonfinancial conditions such as no-contact orders, curfews, or bans on drug and alcohol use.
Misdemeanors and felonies are both crimes and they both affect your criminal record, so they should both be taken seriously. However, while a misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of 12 months in a local jail, a felony conviction could lead to years in a state prison. Having a felony conviction can also affect your ability to carry a weapon, get certain jobs, and vote in state and federal elections.
Kentucky’s public defenders are skilled attorneys, but they are drastically overworked. Because they carry so many cases at any given time, they may not be as responsive to your questions or attentive to the details of your case as you might like. Hiring a private criminal defense attorney ensures that your lawyer will be focused on you and your case. We will carefully review all the details, looking for possible defenses, and develop your strongest legal arguments. As your private criminal defense team, we will be with you throughout the case, and are ready to respond to all your questions and concerns.
Sometimes you know you did the thing you’ve been charged with. In those cases, it may seem easier to just plead guilty and be done with the court process. However, prosecutors regularly charge more than they can prove. There may also be technical violations in the way the police handled your case that will make it hard, or sometimes impossible, for the prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By hiring a lawyer even if you are guilty, you can improve your chances of negotiating a plea agreement that will reduce your penalty and help you get back to your life.
Nothing replaces an honest assessment of your case by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you don’t see the answer to your question, or if you have been charged with a crime, you should discuss it with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and establish your defense. Contact Noel Caldwell, Attorney at Law, PLLC , to get an honest assessment of your defenses today.