Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense
Our Nationwide Criminal Defense Attorneys Provide the Answers
Through our efforts to assist and serve clients, we at Imhoff & Associates,
PC have been asked thousands of questions from individuals in need of
information. This page is dedicated to both presenting answers to commonly
asked questions and dispelling common misinformation. Please search the
commonly asked questions below. If your question is not listed, please
contact our criminal defense lawyers for assistance.
This section of our website is not intended for legal advice. Statements
are not intended to be a correct statement of law in your jurisdiction.
This statement is intended to give you a very general understanding of
what is involved in the referenced issue. Please consult an attorney to
find out what laws apply in your specific jurisdiction.
Learn More About Your Rights Below.
I just got arrested for a DUI/DWI. What happens next?
We recommend that you do not make statements while you are being held.
As soon as you have been arrested, call a criminal defense lawyer to assist
you. As soon as you do, disclose any information you believe may be helpful
to your case. Don't miss court dates and inform your attorney of any
possible witnesses, including passengers in your vehicle.
I just got charged with a hit and run. What are my legal options?
After being charged, your first court date will likely be the arraignment
day. On that day you will be formally charged and then asked to enter
a plea. Once a plea of not guilty is entered, the discovery phase of the
case is started, which includes any investigation on the case. This part
of the case could take some time, depending on the complexity of the charge.
Also, during this phase, many pre-trial motions are filed. Once discovery,
investigation and pretrial motions are completed, the defense will file
an answer and the case is set down for trial. At any time during this
period, negotiations may take place between the prosecutor and the defense attorney.
How do I get a hold of my court or police records?
Our criminal defense attorneys can help you obtain police records, which
are discovery-related materials, through subpoena. Court files are accessible
to the public because they are considered public record. If you were not
convicted and still wish to have your records, you may obtain a copy from
the Department of Justice.
What are average prison sentences?
Recent trends have seen some states pass legislation that increases average
prison sentences. Also, many parole boards have been reluctant to approve
early releases of prisoners in hopes of reducing recidivism. However,
expert findings show that there is little or no evidence that keeping
prisoners locked up longer prevents them from repeating crimes.
The Public Safety Performance Project report released in 2009 (part of
the Pew Charitable Trust), examined the average prison sentences in 35
states during the years 1990 to 2009. The report found that in the 11
states with the longest prison stays, the average prison time for crimes
by inmates was 3.1 years to 4.3 years.
The following is a list of those 11 states examined in the report:
- Michigan (average prison stay of 3.4 years up 79% from 1990)
- Pennsylvania (average prison stay of 3.8 years up 32% from 1990)
- New York (average prison stay of 3.2 years up 2% from 1990)
- Virginia (average prison stay of 3.3 years up 91% from 1990)
- Georgia (average prison stay of 3.2 years up 75% from 1990)
- Arkansas (average prison stay of 3.2 years up 69% from 1990)
- Oregon (average prison stay of 3.2 years up 32% from 1990)
- Oklahoma (average prison stay of 3.1 years up 83% from 1990)
- West Virginia (average prison stay of 3.1 years up 51% from 1990)
- New Hampshire (average prison stay of 3.1 years up 26% from 1990)
- Hawaii (average prison stay of 3.1 years down 15% from 1990)
Hawaii was the only state out of the 11 where the average prison sentences
served decreased during the examined period.
What is alternative sentencing?
When charged and convicted of a criminal offense, you should look for alternative
sentencing options wherever possible to avoid incarceration. Alternative
sentencing can include such things as community work, work furlough, electronic
monitoring, home arrest, probation, restitution, fines, or diversion into
a drug or alcohol treatment program. In certain cases, where you are already
serving a prison sentence, it may also be possible to get your sentence
commuted to a lesser crime with a reduced prison sentence.
Some states require the judge to impose a fixed-term sentence for felony
crimes, while others allow the judge to impose a minimum to maximum time
of incarceration. For some crimes, sentencing may vary with some jail
or prison time, community service, probation or miscellaneous types of
alternative sentencing. Many states have chosen to adopt alternative sentencing
to incarceration policies to help solve their overcrowded prisons and
jails and their current budget deficits and resource shortages. Alternatives
to prison sentences benefit offenders by giving them a fairer punishment
that fits their crime.
Depending on your particular state's law, alternative sentencing options
- Community service - Working with city or non-profit organizations.
- Electric monitoring - Allowing you to be monitored by an electronic device
like an ankle bracelet while giving you the freedom to go about your day
and attend necessary functions.
- Work furlough programs - Offering you the chance to go to a certain work
site each workday then returning to either a designated housing facility
or your home.
- Weekend jail time - Enabling you to continue working while completing your
prison sentence only on weekends in a private, city jail (Friday evening
- Drug/Alcohol treatment - Attending a diversion treatment program such as
drug/alcohol treatment, which may allow your sentence to be suspended
or avoid conviction entirely.
Persons who are eligible for alternative sentencing programs include:
- Persons with clean records and who are not repeat offenders
- Persons who have not committed a serious felony crime
- Persons who are not considered a safety risk to the public
What is a commuted sentence?
Often people wonder what it means by a commuted sentence. Having a prison
sentence commuted means that the sentence is reduced to a less serious
offense with reduced prison time or a reduced fine or penalty. The offender
must be currently serving a federal or state prison sentence in order
to qualify for a commuted sentence. A formal application must be made
by the offender to the state governor for a state crime or to the President
of the United States for a federal crime.
Have more questions? Don't hesitate to contact our firm as soon as possible.