Criminal Law Questions & Answers
Criminal law questions can be difficult to answer because of the various factors, circumstances, rules and laws that factor into each individual case. However, there are some answers to criminal law questions that can be provided, so that individuals (such as the ones reading these words) have some idea of what to do or not to do when involved with a criminal law or the police. With that said, below you will find general answers to some of the basic criminal law questions that are proposed to attorneys, law enforcement personnel, and the courts. Some of the answers to these criminal law questions may seem more complex or basic than others, but each individual issue is important and can have an impact on a criminal matter.
Criminal Law Question 1 – What happens after someone is arrested?
The officers involved in writing the reports about a crime will also obtain witness statements, run a background check of the suspect, and further investigate the situation, if needed. He or she will then generally submit a “arrant packet” the prosecuting attorney, either state or local. The prosecutor then reviews the packet and determines the appropriate crime to be charged, whether felony or misdemeanor. Moreover, the prosecutor will determine, initially, whether a crime even occurred in his or her opinion. If a charge is filed a warrant will be issued, and the individual will then need to turn himself in on the warrant or they will be at risk of being arrested on that warrant.
Criminal Law Question 2 – The person who called the police does not want to prosecute or continue with the case, does that mean the case will be dropped or dismissed?
No, it does not necessarily rest with the complaining witness. As indicated above, the prosecutor is ultimately the one deciding the individual and crime to be charged. There are many reasons why an alleged victim or complaining witness may not want to see charges continue, which vary from empathy to fear. Regardless, the system is set up in order for police to report, investigate, and collect facts, statements, and evidence of possible and reported criminal activity, and then the police turn that information over to lawyers (prosecutors) to initially review the facts and determine the type of crime that may or may not have occurred. The criminal courts oversee and attempts to ensure those facts legitimize criminal activity.
Criminal Law Question 3 – What is the difference between being charged with a misdemeanor versus a felony?
There are various aspects that differentiate felony and misdemeanor charges. The primary difference between the two two are that misdemeanors are generally not punishable by more than one-year in jail, whereas felonies are punishable by a maximum jail time that exceeds one-year in jail. Procedurally speaking, felonies and misdemeanors also differ. Felonies will generally be disposed of in the circuit court, while misdemeanors be handled in a district court.
Criminal Law Question 4 – Are you required to speak to the police?
No, you are not required to speak with them. This is especially true if you are a believed suspect in a crime. At times, you may or may not know whether you are the suspect, which means that it is always advisable to not make a statement to the police if there is any thought or belief that you could have potential involvement in criminal activity. Of course, you are free to speak with them, and in circumstances the police are required to provide you certain Miranda warnings prior to speaking with you. Police are tricky and crafty. They know how to question and interact with individuals in order to obtain certain information within the bounds of the law. Rather than speaking to the police, contact a criminal lawyer to assist in the questioning or representing your matter. A criminal lawyer will understand what can and cannot be said to properly handle your matter and deal with the situation at the investigation stage and during formal criminal proceedings.
Criminal Law Question 5 – Does an officer have to arrest you if you are being charged with a crime?
Generally, whether an officer does or does not arrest you will be on his or her discretion. This may be surprising to some. There are a few crimes where the officer is required to arrest for a period of time, such as drunk driving, OWI, or impaired driving. However, in other aspects and circumstances the officer does not technically have to place individual under arrest, which can involve both felonies or misdemeanors. Yes, this is correct. An officer does necessarily have to arrest simply because an individual may have committed a felony. It should be noted that when an individual is potentially involved with felony charges the risk of arrest does rise. Again, the officer has certain discretion when involved in investigating, arresting, and seeking criminal charges for both felonies and misdemeanors.
Criminal Law Question 6 – Are you required to let the police into your home? Are you required to allow them to search your home?
The short answer is no, unless the officer has a search warrant or an arrest warrant for someone who resides or may be staying inside the home. The warrant in those situations will be controlling; however, if there is no warrant then you are generally not required to allow the officer inside your home. This means you can tell the officer “no”. Moreover, you are not required to give consent to the officer to search your home, unless there is an authorized search warrant for the residence. Without a search warrant, an officer’s ability to search individual’s home is limited to certain circumstances and situations.
Criminal Law Question 7 – Are you required to allow the police to search your vehicle during a traffic stop?
An individual is not required to provide consent to an officer to search his or her motor vehicle at the time of a traffic stop; however, an officer’s ability to search a motor vehicle is greater than compared to other area’s or places an individual may be encountered by an officer. Therefore, any constitutionality of a search of an individual’s vehicle, meaning whether it was legally searched, will be a case-by-case basis, and it is always advised to deny consent and force an officer to do what he or she may do in the circumstance. Any defense will likely be sought during criminal proceedings.
Other criminal law questions can be found in an earlier post: Common Criminal Law Questions.
NEVER RELY ON INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE OR ANY OTHER WEBSITE IF YOU ARE ATTEMPTING OR WANTING TO REPRESENT YOURSELF BEFORE ANY OFFICER, COURT, OR PROSECUTOR INVOLVING A CRIMINAL MATTER OR OTHER LEGAL ISSUE IN THIS STATE OR ANY OTHER STATE OF FEDERAL DIVISION. MAKE SURE YOU CONTACT QUESTION FOR ANY CRIMINAL LAW QUESTION. CRIMINAL LAW QUESTIONS VARY AND YOUR ACTIONS CAN HAVE MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR MATTER.