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Rights of Criminal Defendants

In the United States, criminal defendants have important rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, many individuals accused of crimes fail to take advantage of their constitutional rights. They speak freely to police and give up their right to remain silent or allow unjustified searches and seizures of their personal property. Many fail to retain a skilled lawyer and instead rely on their own limited understanding of the criminal justice system.

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, understand that all defendants have rights. Asserting these rights is often the difference between a guilty verdict and an acquittal.

Rights of the Accused

Some of the most important rights afforded to criminal defendants include:

• The right to a speedy and public trial - This right is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It means that once an individual is charged with a crime, they have the right to have their case tried before a judge or jury within a reasonable amount of time.

• The right to an attorney - This right is also guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender to represent him or her. It is very important for defendants to have an experienced attorney by their side. An attorney will be familiar with the criminal justice system and know how to navigate the case from beginning to end. An experienced attorney can gather evidence and use it to build a strong defense against criminal charges.

• The right not to be subjected to double jeopardy - This right is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and means that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Once a person is acquitted or convicted of a crime, they cannot be tried again for that same crime.

• The right against self-incrimination: The Fifth Amendment also states that defendants cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. This right can be invoked by remaining silent and telling the court that you wish to speak to an attorney before answering any police questions. Unfortunately, police officers often imply that defendants will have a better chance of avoiding harsh criminal penalties if they freely provide information about the alleged crime. If you were arrested, do not fall victim to this interrogation tactic. Police do not have the authority to offer reduced jail sentences or leniency in exchange for cooperation during an interrogation.

Grundy and Will County Criminal Defense Lawyer

These are just a few of the rights afforded to criminal defendants in the United States. If you have been accused of a crime, you have these rights and should exercise them. Contact experienced Will County criminal defense attorney Jack Zaremba for personalized, skilled legal counsel and guidance during your case. Call 815-740-4025 today and schedule a free consultation.

Why is My First DUI a Felony?

Most people are aware that a first-time DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, a less serious crime than a felony that carries under a year of jail time. In general, this is true. If it is your first DUI - and there were no aggravating factors present - you will usually be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are situations where even a first DUI can lead to felony charges. First DUIs are charged as felonies when certain circumstances suggest that the crime was more serious than a misdemeanor. If you caused an serious accident, for example, you are very likely to face felony charges.

If you have been charged with a felony DUI, there are steps an attorney may be able to take that could potentially get your charges reduced back to a misdemeanor. It is important that you take the charge very seriously and fight back with the help of an attorney.

When is a First-Time DUI a Felony?

Finding out that you have been charged with a felony can be a terrifying experience - especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. Felonies can carry more than a year in prison and leave you with a record that closes doors for the rest of your life. Understanding why your DUI has been charged as a felony can help you and your lawyer work out a defense strategy. Your first DUI could have led to felony charges because:

• Child passenger - If you were driving with a passenger under 16 years old in your car, and the child got hurt, you will likely be charged with a Class 4 felony.

• Serious bodily harm - If you seriously hurt someone while driving drunk, it is near-automatically handled as a felony.

• No car insurance - This is one of the more common reasons that people find themselves in felony territory over a simple DUI. If you did not have auto insurance, then your DUI may be handled as a felony. The reasoning is that if you had hurt someone, you might not have been able to compensate them.

• No license - Drunk driving is going to be taken more seriously if you were not supposed to be driving in the first place because your license was suspended or revoked.

A felony conviction can change the entire course of your life. Felons often struggle to find good work and adequate housing. A felony DUI can interrupt your plan for life in a big way. There are ways to fight back, but you must involve a lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact an Illinois DUI Lawyer

Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. can handle even the most serious felony DUI cases. The goal of our Will County DUI attorneys is to minimize the impact that this charge will have on your life going forward. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.

Avoiding Jail Time in Criminal Cases

One of the first things people tend to ask their criminal defense attorney is, “Am I going to jail?” If you are charged with a criminal offense, there is always the possibility of jail, but not a guarantee. That said, there are tactics an attorney can use that could keep you out of jail. A lot will depend on the specific facts of your case and other factors, like whether you have any criminal history and whether your offense involved harm to another person. If you are facing a felony charge, you are more likely to serve some time if you are convicted. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is less likely to face significant jail time. Your lawyer can help give you a better understanding of what could happen in your case.

Strategies for Staying Out of Jail

It is easy to look at the potential statutory punishment for the offense you are charged with and panic - up to a year in jail for a first DUI? However, most first-time offenders will not receive a punishment that harsh, especially if they are represented by an attorney. Some legal strategies that could potentially keep you out of jail include:

• Trial – Going to trial is always an option in any criminal case. In fact, in some cases where prison or jail as a punishment is required by law, going to trial can be your best option. In other times, a strong negotiation with a plea bargain can reduce the amount of time you might have to serve.

• Diversion programs - Depending on the crime you are charged with, there may be options for completing a court-supervised program in lieu of conviction. If you successfully complete one of these programs, your charge will be dismissed and you will not go to jail. However, make sure that you will be able to commit to following the court’s rules for an extended period of time. If you cannot, you may end up in jail on a probation violation.

• Mitigation - If you do wind up pleading guilty or being convicted, your attorney will have the opportunity to argue that there are factors present that make your crime less serious. If there are significant mitigating factors, the judge may be more likely to order probation over incarceration.

• Seeking dismissal - In some cases, there is simply not enough evidence to convict you, or something about your arrest or the investigation that led to it was illegal. In cases like these, there is a chance that your attorney could have your case dismissed outright.

• House arrest - In some cases, courts will agree to place a defendant on house arrest with a GPS monitor rather than sentencing them to jail. This is more likely if you have some characteristic that would make jail particularly dangerous for you (unrelated to your offense), such as being elderly or very sick.

These are just a few of the strategies lawyers use to guard defendants against the possibility of incarceration.

Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer

Will County criminal defense attorney Jack L. Zaremba has the courtroom advocacy skills needed to contest your case. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Zaremba can anticipate the prosecution’s moves and prepare to counter them in advance. Call (815) 740-4025 for a free consultation.

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