FAQs with Our Lafayette Defense Attorney
When you find yourself in need of legal representation, it can be overwhelming. You may have more questions than answers, which can fill you with uneasiness and worry. McCoy Law understands your need for prompt answers and unwavering support. Here are a few of the most common questions asked by clients looking for a defense attorney in Lafayette, IN.
Do you really need a lawyer?
It is impossible to answer this question without knowing exactly what legal issues you are facing. You should at least take advantage of a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney who regularly handles the type of legal situation you are facing. In most cases, it will be in your best interests to hire an attorney due to the serious consequences that may result from legal mistakes and due to the complexities of our civil and criminal justice systems. If you try to act on your own behalf, the Court is supposed to hold you to the same standard as an attorney – a standard you most likely will not be able to meet without extensive legal training. You should contact the McCoy Law office to take advantage of our free initial consultations. We realize that you may not need an attorney in certain situations and we will advise you of that fact if we believe it is in your best interest to proceed without an attorney. However, it is extremely important to meet with us before you attempt to represent yourself. Many people come to us after appearing in Court hoping that we can correct the mistakes they made in court while representing themselves. Unfortunately, we may not be able to correct any legal mistakes that have already occurred in your case. Therefore, it is always best to get advice from an attorney before going to Court.
How soon do I need to consult with an attorney?
You should schedule an appointment to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Legal issues need to dealt with within weeks of arising. It is important to schedule an appointment as soon as possible because prominent attorneys are in high demand and the first available appointment could be two (2) weeks or more after the day you call to schedule the appointment. Waiting a few weeks for the right attorney is ok so long as you can meet with the attorney before any upcoming court dates or legal deadlines. It is also important to meet with an attorney quickly because an experienced attorney may be able to offer advice that can help your prepare your case and minimize any potential sentence in a criminal case. Unfortunately, memories fade quickly but if you meet with an attorney as soon as possible they may be able to help you take steps to preserve key elements of your case. There may also be important legal deadlines that may pass without your knowledge if you do not consult with an attorney. If these deadlines expire, you may be denied a trial, limited to a bench trial, or be prevented from raising certain defenses or claims.
Can you vote if you have been convicted of a felony?
Most people mistakenly believe they are not eligible to vote if they have been convicted of a felony. Generally, this is not true under Indiana law. It is true that you are not allowed to vote while you are incarcerated. It would be too difficult for the Indiana Department of Correction or our local jails to make voting available to inmates. However, as long as you are not presently incarcerated, convicted felons are allowed to vote in Indiana so long as they are properly registered. There is an exception to this rule. Specifically, if the sentencing Court specifies in your sentencing order that your right to vote has been revoked, then you would not be eligible to vote, however, this sanction is almost never imposed. Please note that your eligibility to vote will be controlled by the State in which you are trying to vote. Therefore, a felony conviction entered in Indiana may prevent you from voting in another State even if you would be eligible to vote in Indiana.
Do you qualify for the Diversion Program?
If this is your first offense and you are facing a minor charge such as Public Intoxication, you may qualify for the Diversion Program. However, the Prosecutor could file additional charges after reviewing the police reports. If this is your first criminal offense, you should schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to determine whether or not you really need to hire an attorney to represent you on this case. If you clearly qualify for the Diversion Program and you are available to attend the court date, then you probably will not need to hire an attorney.
Do you qualify for a Withheld Judgment?
If this is your first offense and Possession of Marijuana is the only charge you are facing, you may qualify for a Withheld Judgment. However, the Prosecutor could file additional charges after reviewing the police reports. In this situation, you should still schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys to determine whether or not you really need to hire an attorney to represent you on this case.
Can a conviction prevent me from getting Work Release or House Arrest in another case?
Convictions for crimes of violence and certain sex offenses can be used to disqualify you for work release or house arrest in the future. These programs are intended for “non-violent” offenders. Once you are convicted of a disqualifying crime, you may be considered a “violent offender” for the rest of your life. If so, you may not be eligible for these programs in the future – even for minor offenses.
Can a conviction be used against me if I testify in an unrelated case?
Convictions for crimes of dishonesty can be used against you for ten (10) years by attorneys in all types of trials to try to make a judge or jury think you are lying. This means a conviction today might be used against you years from now in a contract dispute or a personal injury case even though the two cases are not connected in any way. This can lead to undue embarrassment that should be avoided if at all possible.
Is there any way to keep a criminal conviction off your record?
While there is no way to keep the criminal conviction off your record at the time it is entered, it may be possible to have your record sealed through an expungement proceeding at a later date. You can learn more about expungements by reviewing the information under the expungement tab on this website or by setting up an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.
Should the officer have read you “your rights”?
Many of our clients complain that the officer who arrested them did not read them their rights. Most people do not realize that the police are only required to advise them of their rights if the person accused is “in custody”. More specifically, the Miranda warning that people are familiar with only applies to “custodial interrogations”. So the real question usually hinges upon whether the person being questioned was under arrest or merely being detained briefly. If you do not believe you were properly advised of your rights, you should bring this issue to our attention during your initial consultation. We will review the case to determine whether or not your constitutional rights have been violated. If your rights appear to have been violated, we will file a Motion to Suppress any evidence that was obtained illegally.
Should you have taken the Field Sobriety Tests when stopped for an OWI, DUI, or DWI?
There are several Field Sobriety Tests that are well known from television shows and other sources. Police officers often ask those suspected of Operating While Intoxicated to submit to the three standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The three standardized tests are the Walk and Turn, the One Leg Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. There is no requirement in the law for you to submit to these tests. While you are required to take chemical tests such as breath alcohol tests or blood tests under Indiana’s Implied Consent law, you are not required to submit to Field Sobriety Tests. You should never submit to Field Sobriety Tests because they only give the State additional evidence to use against you in Court. Besides, even if you pass all the Field Sobriety Tests, you are still going to jail if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .08 or more.