FAQ: Criminal Defense
The criminal justice system is complex. Following are answers to questions many clients frequently ask during the course of their representation. You should not consider this legal advice, merely an introduction to some fact situations, but by no means final advice. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime, please contact Rockville, Maryland, Criminal Defense Lawyer Thomas G. Witkop to see how he can help
Do I have to allow the police to search my residence or vehicle?
This depends on the situation. If the police request your consent to search, you should either refuse consent or ask to speak with your attorney. Either way that would be a refusal. If the police do not ask for your consent, you do not have much of a choice. You can ask for them to show you the search warrant which they probably will not have. There are many exceptions to the search warrant requirement which have been carved out by the courts over the years. The bottom line is that if you or given a choice whether they can search you were pat you down or frisk you, you should tell them no or I want to talk to my lawyer. If they are in the process of searching you, or frisking you, or patting you down, you should not physically resist but you can tell them that you do not consent to their activity. The fact that you do not consent can later on be litigated in court.
What should I do If I am arrested?
Every criminal defendant needs an attorney. If you are arrested, immediately assert your right to an attorney and do not give a statement to the police—and by statement I am speaking very broadly. Do not give an oral statement or a written statement or a recorded statement. Generally, you are required to provide your name and your address. Everything else should be discussed between you and your defense attorney. Even if you are innocent, wait for an attorney to be present before giving any statements.
What should I do if the police want to speak to me about their investigation?
You should not speak to police unless you are accompanied by a lawyer. An attorney can ensure that your constitutional rights will be protected. Police are trained to interrogate potential suspects and obtain incriminating statements that can later be used against you in a criminal case. If you are contacted by police, please call my office for a consultation. I can be retained to advise and represent you during any investigation and prior to the filing of any charges.
How is bail or custody status determined?
If you are arrested and booked, bail is initially set by the commissioner's office based on the charges they determine have occurred. These charges may or may not ultimately be filed by the State Attorney’s Office. You can bail out of custody prior to being brought to court based on the bail set by the jail. At your first court appearance, bail may be discussed and determined. Based on the criminal charges and the defendant’s personal history, courts look to whether the defendant is a flight risk and/or a danger to the community. Factors the court will use in its determination include, but are not limited to, employment/school history, number of years the defendant has resided in the area (or additional familial ties to the community), prior criminal history, and the facts of the charged case. Depending on the facts of the case and the personal history of the defendant, the court may release the defendant on his own recognizance (no bail needs to be posted). If there is a dispute about what is the appropriate bail, a bail hearing may be set.
How much does a private attorney cost?
The cost of a criminal lawyer can vary depending on the type of charges and the jurisdiction where the charges are filed. Please call my office at 301.294.3434 for a consultation. After speaking with you, I can assess your case and provide answers to your financial questions.
How long will my case be pending?
The length of a case varies depending on several factors, including i) whether the defendant is in custody or out of custody; ii) whether the case can resolve or goes to jury trial; and iii) the type of charges and evidence that needs to be examined.
What if I don’t like my current attorney/public defender?
In most circumstances, a criminal defendant has the right to counsel of his choice. It is important that you can trust and depend on your lawyer. If you are currently represented and would like to discuss your case, please call the Law Offices of Thomas G. Witkop at 301.294.3434.
How do I get my record expunged?
Expungement is the legal process of clearing a criminal record. It is a very powerful tool in the state of Maryland and you should use it when you can assuming that you are a United States citizen (if you are here as an immigrant you should not automatically expunge your case is because that can lead to problems if you are applying for United States citizenship. This process can make it easier for you to apply for jobs and obtain certain professional licenses. Please call the Law Offices of Thomas G. Witkop at 301.294.3434, and we can help you with this process.
Can you guarantee a result?
No lawyer can ever guarantee a client results. At the Law Offices of Thomas G. Witkop, I will provide you with a realistic assessment of your case based on my more than 25 years of Criminal Defense experience in handing cases in Maryland and Washington, DC, courts.
The content of this website has been prepared by the Law Offices of Thomas G. Witkop for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. The information presented here is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Online readers and Internet users should not act upon this information without first consulting Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas G. Witkop or another attorney.