When a person is arrested on suspicion of criminal charges , he or she has certain rights that must be protected. Of course, a criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and the right to due process. He or she also has the right to be fully informed about the processes that lie ahead. In most cases, another fundamental right—the right to a qualified attorney—will allow the defendant to remain fully informed about the criminal proceedings and what is expected of him or her along the way. But when there is a breakdown in communication between the attorney and the suspect, things can go very wrong, as a Queens man recently learned after sitting in jail for five months on bail that was less than the cost of a slice of New York-style pizza.
A Confusing Situation
In November of 2014, an Algerian-born man living in Queens, NY, was arrested on several charges including assaulting the officer who was trying to arrest him. Bail was set at $25,000 on the police assault charge. A week later, when prosecutors failed to secure an indictment, the assault charge was dropped and the man was ordered released. There were, however, two minor charges still pending against him, with bail set for each at merely one dollar.
While $1 bail is not uncommon for minor charges in cases where more serious offenses are also alleged—assaulting a police officer, for example—nobody ever communicated the situation to the defendant, including his own attorney. As a result, the man never paid the remaining $2 bail and sat in jail at Rikers Island for another five months. The man said that his attorney did not let him know that he could have been released by simply paying an amount that many people could find in the cushions of their sofa.
The Importance of an Experienced Lawyer
This case should serve as a reminder that the criminal justice system can be overwhelming for a defendant caught in the middle. He or she is expected to comply with deadlines, dates, and regulations, some of which he or she may not even know about. This is where retaining a qualified criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. Your lawyer can help you be prepared for whatever challenges await you in the process.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need an advocate who will remain at your side to ensure your rights are fully protected. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney right away to get the help you need. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.