Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I get pulled over?

If you get pulled over, be polite and cooperative: stay calm, roll down your window, address the officer and do what you are asked. If a traffic stop leads to an arrest, continue to cooperate and invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Even if you believe that you were wrongfully stopped or arrested, you should exercise your constitutional right not to speak rather than arguing with the officer.

Officers may encourage you to make statements in a variety of ways, but any statements you make will be written in police reports and read by prosecutors. Politely decline to answer questions until you speak to a lawyer. Once you are in custody, speak to your lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you are able to get a lawyer to help you with your case, the better your chances are for a favorable outcome.

What happens to my bond money?

When a bond is set on your case, you must post 10 percent in order to be released. Thus, if your bond is set at $10,000, you must post $1,000. Before your bond is returned, 10 percent of the posted amount is taken out. So, if you posted $1,000, $100 is taken out, leaving you with $900. Fines and court costs you owe may also be taken out of the money posted before it is returned to you.

When your bond is returned, a check is sent to the address of whoever posted the bond. This process can often take several weeks. Most jurisdictions also allow for you to use your posted bond to pay your lawyer, although the amount returned will not be as much as the amount you posted.

What if I can't post bond?

If you have the ability to post bond but cannot post the amount that is set in your case, you can try to get it lowered. This involves having a bond hearing where your lawyer would tell the court reasons why your bond was set too high. The judge would then decide whether to reduce your bond.

What is a motion to quash?

In criminal cases, this most likely refers to a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. To quash means to make void. Thus, the defendant is asking the judge to void his or her arrest and bar the admission of any evidence resulting from that arrest. If the judge finds that the search or arrest was in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, the motion will be granted and the evidence barred. Generally, this will result in a dismissal of your case.

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