Should Someone Talk To The Police Without An Attorney?
The golden rule in any criminal case is, never talk to anyone; not the police, not detectives and not investigators because anything you say, as the Miranda warnings note, can and will be used against you. Unfortunately, those Miranda Warnings usually won’t come into play unless you’re in custody in an interrogation type of situation; if a detective comes to your door and says they have you on video putting something in your pocket and asking what you did, and you answer that you forgot you put the gum in your pocket and forgot to pay for it, you’ve just admitted that you took it.
They may have you on videotape and it may look as if you put something in your pocket, but they don’t really know unless you open your mouth and stick your foot in it by admitting something. Having been a prosecutor for 5 years, I can tell you that without a statement from the defendant admitting something, the case usually is more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
The only person you should ever talk to is your attorney; never make any statements to anyone because that can, in turn, be used against you, and may even become twisted, prompting you to have to say “That’s not what I meant to say.” Guess what? If you say nothing, nothing can be twisted around. The minute you open your mouth, you’re putting yourself in jeopardy, so follow the golden rule and talk to no one except your attorney.
Is There Any Way I Can Get A Theft Charge Expunged or Sealed?
In Illinois, they’ve passed a law creating something like a first offender’s special probation, where you plea to the charge, you have so many months of probation, but at the end of it, it’s expunged and expungable.
There is a difference between expungement and getting sealed; when a record is sealed, that just means that it’s pretty much closed to the public; only the court and the police department can find it; no one else can without a court order. On the other hand, if a record is expunged, it’s completely erased from your record; the police are supposed to give you back your photos, the fingerprint cards, everything. In most jurisdictions, this process is not easy, but it does happen; for example, if you had a very minor felony drug case 20 years ago, you may be able to get that expunged, but more likely you will get it sealed so it doesn’t really hurt you when looking for a job, trying to further yourself and be a more productive citizen.
Some things are expungable, some are sealable; every case is different and it depends not only on the initial charge, but also what you eventually pled to. Every state has their own little rules; in Illinois, you have to petition the chief judge of the circuit to consider that, so believe me, the chief judges usually have something better to do and won’t be thrilled about doing it, especially pro se, meaning doing it on your own, without an attorney.
What Are Immediate Client Concerns When They first Meet with You?
It depends on whether they’re in jail or not. If they’re in jail, obviously their priority is to get them bonded out of jail, but soon there are other needs, such as making sure they get the best sentence they can, that won’t ruin the rest of their life, whether it’s probation that doesn’t include a lot of conditions or to keep a conviction off their record, even though there may be some things to do like little public service or a small fine.
It’s much better to do all those things and not have a conviction on your record, and to say you’ve learned your lesson and no one will hurt you for it, whereas if you just go and throw yourself on the mercy of the court, the judge, who may be having a bad day, may decide to give you a conviction, 200 hours of public service, and make sure it stays on your record the rest of your life.
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