Criminal Law FAQ

Q: When should a person hire an attorney?
A: An individual should retain a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you become aware that the police are investigating you, or if you have been charged with a crime. The earlier you contact a lawyer the better. An attorney can intervene with the police and either prevent an arrest or, if you are going to be arrested, arrange for your surrender at a time and in a manner that minimizes embarrassment to you or your family. Retaining a lawyer also prevents the police from questioning you.

Q: If the person is innocent, why does he or she need a lawyer?
A: Innocent people do get accused, and convicted, of crimes. Also, people who may have committed one crime often get accused of committing additional and more serious crimes. In this country, whether you are innocent or guilty of committing a crime, you have a right to remain silent at all times. Even if you have nothing to hide, it is always better to have a lawyer learn about your accusations and speak on your behalf.

Q: What should someone do if the police want to question or arrest him or her?
A: Always be polite and cooperative. Arguing or struggling, even if you didn't do anything wrong, will never make the situation better. Don't say anything to the police except your name and other identifying information. DO NOT discuss the situation with them. Many convictions result from statements made to the police. Whether the officer speaking to you is nasty or nice, he or she is looking for evidence that can be used against you. The police sometimes will attempt to lie or trick you in order to get you to talk. You should tell the police that you want to speak to a lawyer, and that you do not want to speak to them until you have spoken to a lawyer.

Q: What should a person expect if he or she is arrested?
A: You will be brought to the police station and "booked." This procedure will include fingerprinting and photographing and obtaining your biographical information. You will be able to make a telephone call, and you should make it either to a lawyer or a family member who can call a lawyer. You must appear at court at the time told to you by the police and written on your "recognizance form."

Q: If I am stopped while driving and the police officer asks me to do field sobriety tests, do I have to do them?

A: The police can ask you to perform the tests. However, if you don't perform the tests, your refusal cannot be introduced at trial. In addition, there are no legal consequences for your failure to do the tests, e.g., you won't have your driver's license taken away from you.

Q: Should I take a Breathalyzer test if I am arrested?
A: By obtaining a driver's license, you have consented to taking the Breathalyzer. Therefore, if you refuse to take the Breathalyzer, your driver's license will be taken away for 180 days. HOWEVER, breath test machines are not perfect and are very often inaccurate. They were not designed to measure someone's blood alcohol, and if you blow a .08 or more, this evidence will be very damaging against you at trial. A couple of drinks can register as a .08, so be extremely cautious before deciding to take a Breathalyzer.

Please call us if you have questions or if you require legal representation at 617-830-6760.