Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Charges
Tapp Law Firm, P.A. is professional, straight forward, and caring. Mr. Tapp understands that only through a thorough knowledge of criminal law and a willingness to investigate, may your rights be preserved. Over the years, Mr. Tapp has successfully represented individuals on a wide range of crimes ranging from murder, rape, and drug charges to DWI, domestic abuse, and even traffic tickets. If you want counsel that will get the job done, then call Tapp Law Firm, P.A.
- Do I need an Attorney?
- What is the difference between a federal and state crime?
- What if I am innocent of the charges brought against me?
- Do I still need a lawyer if my case is still under investigation and no charges have been filed?
- Should I speak with the police?
- Who investigates and prosecutes federal crimes?
- What are the federal sentencing guidelines?
- What can my lawyer do if the charges have already been filed?
If you have to ask that question, chances are you need to consult with an attorney. One of the main reasons is to find out whether or not you actually need representation. That decision is something which can be decided only with the aid of an experienced attorney and only after he is familiar with the facts of your case.
What is the difference between a federal and state crime? A federal crime is a violation of a statute passed by the United States Congress. A state crime is a violation of a statute or ordinance passed by the state legislature or a local authority. Usually the federal crime addresses criminal activity or a more national concern. Although, in recent decades the federal government has become increasingly involved in prosecuting drug and violent crimes, areas once left almost exclusively to the states. Many crimes are prosecutable in both state and federal courts.
This makes it all the more necessary to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Just because you know that you are innocent does not mean that you will ultimately be found innocent. We all like to think that truth and justice prevails, but unfortunately that does not always happen. In fact, sometimes police and prosecutors are so eager to push cases through the system that innocent people are found guilty of crimes they did not commit. The only way to ensure that your rights are fully protected and that the evidence is fairly presented in court is with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Yes, your need for effective legal representation is just as great during the course of the police investigation. It is important to note that police and prosecutors do not always give people the benefit of doubt before they file charges. Don’t assume that the police will fairly decide whether you should be charged. Any evidence in your favor needs to be investigated and preserved by your attorney as early as possible.
NO! Make no statement and sign nothing. If the police think that you will talk, they may try to interview you. You may even believe that this is your chance to tell your story. However, the police are not there to clear you of suspicion. Their role is to gather evidence to convict you of a crime. Whether you should speak to the police is an extremely important and complex decision, which can only be made with the advice of competent legal counsel.
For the most part, federal criminal offenses are investigated by agents of federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service and others. Occasionally, state law enforcement officers work in conjunction with federal agencies. Federal crimes are usually prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the area where the crime occurred. Sometimes a prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice, or from an agency such at the Environmental Protection Agency will participate in a federal prosecution.
From 1987 until recently in federal court, if a defendant was found guilty or pleaded guilty, the judge assessed punishment in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. The United States Sentencing Guidelines manual contains the rules for determining the range within which a judge’s sentence was required fall. Factors that went into the determination included, the offense for which the defendant was convicted; certain factors about the offense such as how much money was involved in a financial crime, the role of the defendant in the overall scheme and other factors concerning the defendant’s conduct; and the defendant’s criminal record.
The court was required to sentence within the applicable guideline range (expressed in a range of months) unless the case was extremely unusual or qualified for one of the few exceptions allowing the judge to depart from the guidelines. Guideline sentencing was a complicated aspect of federal criminal cases. However, the United States Supreme Court, in January 2005 declared the mandatory nature of the guidelines unconstitutional. At this time the guidelines are to be used by the judges as advisory tools to help them exercise their sentencing discretion.
First, your lawyer will evaluate the evidence and determine if the government can prove its case against you. Sometimes prosecutors and US Attorneys are mistaken about the strength of their evidence and can be persuaded to abandon their case after hearing both sides of the story. Other times, they can be persuaded to dismiss charges because of changes in the evidence. If the evidence against you is too strong to obtain a dismissal of charges, your attorney will evaluate whether it is in your best interest to go trial or to obtain a negotiated plea bargain.
Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate your chances for success at trial. If you and your attorney decide to go to trial, your attorney will develop a case to persuade the jury that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you are guilty of the charges.
How do I contact you?
Contact Tapp Law Firm for a free initial consultation by calling 501-623-9800 or emailing our Hot Springs office.
Guiding Clients Through Life’s Legal Challenges Since 1998
Serving Clients Throughout Arkansas