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Olson Law LLC
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Criminal Defense FAQs

Criminal charges can be very complex and frightening. You may be facing jail or prison time, in addition to steep fines. You may be concerned about how a criminal charge will affect your job, your family and your reputation in the community.

At Olson Law LLC, we can help. We welcome you to contact us to schedule a free initial consultation, in which we can answer your questions. Call us at 763-515-8013 or schedule online.

We have also answered several of the more common questions we receive below.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney/What can an Attorney do for Me?

In all criminal proceedings you have constitutional rights that need to be protected. An experienced criminal defense attorney can spot violations of your constitutional rights and make sure that your rights are protected. Without the assistance of an attorney, you may not even know if something was handled improperly in the investigation of your case. One of the most important reasons to consult an attorney is that we can inform you of the future consequences of conviction and how the charges will affect you in the future. If you are charged with any crime, no matter how minor, it is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer to evaluate your case. At Olson Law LLC, we provide a free initial consultation for this very purpose.

I am Charged With a Crime, Now What?

You will likely have a court date set or the option to pay a fine. In determining how your case will proceed, you need to know the level of offense for which you are charged.

There are many variables to consider in knowing how your criminal case will be handled. First, it is important to know the level of the charge. In other words, you must first determine whether your case involves a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony.

  • Petty Misdemeanor: A petty misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of $300. These are typically traffic offenses such a speeding violation and/or minor traffic infractions. These offenses, while minor, may affect your insurance premiums and/or your criminal record. While you can almost always pay off fine for a petty misdemeanor, you do have the right to go to court and contest the charges or see if you can get them off of your records.
  • Misdemeanor: Misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. When charged with a misdemeanor, most times you are required to go to court. Some misdemeanor offenses are "payable" meaning you can pay the fine in lieu of going to court. Use caution when faced with a payable misdemeanor. Simply paying the fine results in a conviction and is treated as though you have pled guilty. A guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge will likely carry some sort of probation. It is important to talk with an attorney about all aspects of your misdemeanor charge. Some misdemeanors can carry with them very serious collateral consequences such as firearms bans and can negatively impact your ability to find employment or housing.

  • Gross Misdemeanor: Gross misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $3,000.00 fine. If you are charged with a gross misdemeanor, it is recommended that you seek legal advice right away to make sure that you are aware of your options. Many gross misdemeanors have mandatory jail sentences and probation. There are also very serious collateral consequences that flow from these types of charges. An experienced attorney can help you determine the extent of the future ramifications of any gross misdemeanor charge.
  • Felony: A felony is any offense for which you could be subject to over one year imprisonment or commitment to the department of corrections or prison. Felony charges are very serious and need to be handled aggressively. If you are convicted of a felony, you may lose many of your constitutionally protected civil rights such as your right to vote, your right to own a firearm and many others. If you are ever charged with a felony, seeking legal advice is absolutely necessary.

What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison?

Jail is a facility where people charged with crimes or convicted of crimes are housed either during the pendency of their case (while it is being decided) or after conviction. If you are sentenced to jail you cannot be held in custody for longer than one year. If your sentence contemplated incarceration for longer than one year, you will be committed to the Department of Corrections. This facility is usually referred to as prison or a penitentiary.

What Does Bail Mean and How is it Determined?

In certain cases, if you are arrested for a crime, you may be held in custody. Once in custody, you will go before a judge to see if the court feels it appropriate to place a bail on you. Bail is a monetary value for which you must post in order to be released from custody pending the charges. The two most important reasons for setting bail are for public safety or flight risks. A judge can place conditional or unconditional bail, depending on whether he or she feels additional motivation is necessary for the defendant to appear in court as scheduled.

If the alleged crime is so egregious that the court feels that your release may cause members of the general public to be in a danger, a high bail may be set. The same is true if the person charged poses a flight risk. Some bail amounts are determined by statute while others are discretionary and can be set by the judge. Oftentimes if there is no significant concerns, a person will be released without bail on an "RPR." RPR means "Release on Personal Recognizance." This means that no bail amount is set. If there is an RPR release or bail is met, there may also be the possibility of "conditional release." Conditional release means that you must abide by a set of conditions which may include for example; house arrest, alcohol monitoring, attendance at treatment or submitting to random chemical tests. While your case is pending, you must abide by all rules of conditional release or you could be placed back in custody and have your bail revoked.

What Does Mandatory Minimum Mean?

Certain crimes have mandatory minimum sentences for which you have to serve in custody as they are mandated by statute.

What Does Enhancement Mean?

Some crimes are enhanceable. This means that if you are convicted of the crime the conviction can be used to make future consequences for a new offense in the future more serious.

What is a Qualified Domestic Violence Related Offense?

The following crimes can been used to enhance a domestic violence related charge:

  • Violation of a domestic abuse order for protection
  • Violation of a domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO)
  • Murder in the first and second degree
  • Assault in the first, second, third, fourth and Fifth degree
  • Domestic assault
  • Domestic assault by strangulation
  • Criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, third or fourth degree
  • Malicious punishment of a child
  • Terroristic threats
  • Violation of a harassment restraining order
  • Stalking
  • Interference with an emergency call

What is Probation?

Probation is a program designed to monitor and rehabilitate offenders after conviction. Each level of offense carries with it a maximum amount of time for which you could be incarcerated. In many cases the jail time may be stayed (meaning not imposed) and the person may be placed on probation. During the pendency of the probation period the stayed portion of the jail can be reserved. If you violate your conditions of probation, you can go back to jail for all of a portion of the stayed jail time. If you serve the maximum jail time, you cannot be on probation. Probation usually includes some sort of supervision by a probation agent and certain conditions or programming. Some examples of conditions or programing include submitting to random testing, attending AA, attending domestic abuse counseling or anger management and/or counseling. When you are on probation, you must be law abiding and cooperative or you will likely face a probation violation and you may go to jail.

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Ask An Attorney

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

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