Category Archives: Client Tips

Having a Good Defense Lawyer: 3 Reasons

Having a Good Defense Lawyer: 3 Reasons

When you go to the prosecutor without a good defense lawyer, you risk putting yourself in a worse situation. Making decisions without a good defense lawyer is even worse. Mark Solomon can help you from the beginning.

Negotiation: Disclosing the right amount of information

First, by “telling the prosecutor your side of the story,” you’re possibly making a horrible mistake. Giving away some facts is part of negotiation. But, you may be giving away facts that you need at trial. If you do this, you may be decreasing your chance of winning. The other side probably doesn’t know the details of your defense. By telling them, you are giving the prosecutor a road map to defeat you. A good defense lawyer knows when to disclose facts and when to withhold them for tactical or strategic reasons.

Investigation

Second, when a defendant starts a case negotiating without a good defense lawyer, new developments in your case seem more fabricated to a prosecutor when revealed later on. When a defense lawyer works against a prosecutor from the start, the process is more predictable. When an investigation is likely, new discoveries are more credible. A bonus effect is that the prosecutor is less likely to make snap decisions about a case or defendant with a good defense lawyer.

Case assessment

Lastly, an offer from a prosecutor is worthless without the context of a defendant’s criminal history, the facts of the case, and any other aggravating factors. Just because the offer sounds good, you may be throwing away a very winnable case without knowing it. A good defense lawyer’s case assessment is crucial in deciding whether to go to trial or give up a right to trial and plead guilty.

Most agree that getting a good defense lawyer from the beginning is the best start to a good defense in a criminal case. Make an appointment to discuss your case right away.

DUI Breath Test, Blood test, or Refusal?

DUI Breath Test, Blood test, or Refusal?

DUI Breath Test, Blood Test, or Refuse all tests?
DUI Breath Test, Blood Test, or Refuse all tests?

An officer begins a DUI investigation on you. He asks you how much have you had to drink. He asks you to perform roadside sobriety tests. Then he arrests you for DUI. He is required to give you a “express consent” advisory where you must choose a dui breath test or a blood test. You have a very short time to decide.

DUI Blood Test

The officer will take you to detox or the jail where a medical professional, usually a nurse or EMT, will draw two vials of blood from your arm. Either the police crime lab or a private lab will conduct a test on the blood they receive and give the police the results.

If the result is 0.08 or above, the police will forward that result to the Department of Revenue (DMV) which will send you a suspension letter that will be effective one week later. You have a right to a suspension hearing and SHOULD REQUEST A HEARING IN WRITING WITHIN 7 days. See the Department of Revenue site for more information.

Unlike a DUI breath test, a second sample exists for independent testing. We will be sending the second vial to another lab for verification that the two vials of blood came from the same person, and that the result is similar to the vial tested by the crime lab. Some of the ways we attempt to get your case dismissed or reduced include blood draw problems, lab errors, blood storage problems, chain of evidence problems, etc.

If the suspension is sustained, and you have a Colorado drivers license, you will be eligible for a restricted license with interlock after 30 days of no driving.

Call a lawyer for help with what to do next. Solomon Law represents many, many DUI charges and can help you decide what is best for you in your case.

DUI Breath Test

The officer will take you to jail or detox and have you wait for 20 minutes while he completes paperwork. This 20 minute observation period is required in a DUI breath test to ensure you did not burp, vomit, belch, drink more alcohol, etc. The officer will have you blow into a mouthpiece two times and the machine will record the lower of the two results.

Currently in Colorado, no facility exists to make an independent test of your DUI breath test. What the machine says will be the only test result in your case. Some of the ways we attempt to get your case dismissed or reduced include problems with the machine, problems with the certification process of the facility to conduct breath tests, etc. We are able to aggressively attack the ability of Colorado to use the Intoxilyer-9000 results of the DUI breath test in your case.

If the result of you DUI breath test is 0.08 or above, the police officer will immediately issue you an “express consent” notice of revocation, and forward it to the Department of Revenue (DMV). This notice of suspension is effective within 7 days. You have a right to a suspension hearing and SHOULD REQUEST A HEARING IN WRITING WITHIN 7 days. See the Department of Revenue site for more information.

Call a lawyer for help with what to do next. Solomon Law represents many, many DUI charges involving a DUI breath test and can help you decide what is best for you in your case.

Refusal

If you refuse any chemical testing of your blood or breath, this will be used against you at trial. The officer will be able to testify to the things he saw, smelled, and heard you say. However, the state’s case is usually weaker without a level of your blood or breath alcohol.

The police officer will issue you an “express consent” notice of revocation for the refusal. He will forward it to the Department of Revenue (DMV). This notice of suspension is effective within 7 days. You have a right to a refusal suspension hearing. You SHOULD REQUEST A HEARING IN WRITING WITHIN 7 days. If the suspension is sustained, and you have a Colorado drivers license, you will be eligible for a restricted license with interlock after 60 days of no driving.

Call a lawyer for help with what to do next. Solomon Law represents many, many DUI charges and can help you decide what is best for you in your case.

Advice

Call a lawyer for help with what to do next. Solomon Law represents many, many DUI charges and can help you decide what is best for you in your case.

 

Remain silent: Do not talk to the detective

Remain silent: Should I talk to the detective?

Remain silent and get the best chance to keep your ability to defend your case. People think that by talking to the police officer or the detective, you are keeping the investigator from thinking you have something to hide. Sadly, giving the investigator any information limits your lawyer’s ability to defend you. Remain silent and talk to a lawyer.

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Remain silent and call your lawyer. Silence is golden!

Admitting to any facts will be called a “confession” to the jury if your case goes to trial. Confessing that you were “there,” but did not do anything limits your defense. Confessing that you had “permission” to do what you are accused of admits that you did what they said they did, and makes their potentially weak case stronger. Almost no reason exists to talk to an investigator.

Remain silent or anything you say can only be used to hurt you

When you talk to the investigator, you every fact you give him is a gift. Investigators love gifts you give them, they go towards being able to charge you with a crime. Gifts you give the investigator give the district attorney facts they will use to convict you. You cannot talk your way out of being arrested or charged, but you can talk away your defenses. Don’t do it. Remain silent and call an attorney.

The officer never gave me my Miranda rights

Police do not need to tell people their Miranda rights unless they are truly “in custody.” Under the law, a suspect can be in handcuffs in the back of a police car and not “in custody.” Being detained is not “in custody,” even if it feels like it. A police doesn’t need to give Miranda rights when someone is only detained. DON’T TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU ARE “IN CUSTODY!” REMAIN SILENT. If a police investigator is asking you questions about you, what you have done, or where things are, you are being investigated for a possible crime. Before you answer any questions, remember that what you say can almost never be used to help you.

Traffic ticket: Should I go to trial or take a plea offer?

Traffic ticket: Should I go to trial or take a plea offer?

“I got a traffic ticket. Help me. The officer says I did something that I did not do. In an accident, the other driver claims that I ran a light, skidded into them, or was on my phone – they are lying. What should I do?”

Traffic tickets can be very emotional triggers for honest people because they come face-to-face with either (1) people who are not being honest or (2) people who honestly believe their facts and are wrong. In either case, when you are given a traffic ticket, you become a defendant. Defendants in traffic tickets have rights to go to trial to force the government to prove them guilty of the charges.

Deciding whether to go to trial in traffic cases can be difficult because the only source of facts in the case are often either police officers or participants in the accident. As such, the defense team has less than perfect certainty as to what facts will arise in the trial. These cases are usually “he said” “she said” disputes where the judge or jury have to decide who to believe.

Often traffic tickets result in fines of less than $500, and attorney fees can be many times that, especially when a jury trial is involved. Rarely does going to trial with a lawyer make good financial sense when dealing with a good driving history and no civil liability.

On the other hand, in accident cases, if the accident’s liability is being attributed to you, and either or both parties are uninsured, admitting criminal liability in the case will subject you to paying restitution to the other party, regardless of the civil case’s outcome. As such, consulting with a personal injury lawyer or your insurance will often be the deciding factor in whether to accept a plea offer or go to trial.

Why Judges require GPS monitoring with bond

Why did my judge require GPS monitoring as condition of bond?

Before arraignment and before seeing a judge, bond is usually set by a predetermined bond schedule. When defendants appear at arraignment, judges usually reconsider bond after scrutinizing pretrial’s required assessment and report along with the defendant’s criminal record.

Remember that Bond’s purpose is twofold. First, Bond ensures a defendants return to court. Factors involved in considering a defendant’s likelihood of returning to court include a defendant’s ties to the area, such as job, family, and the how long the defendant has lived in the area. Second, bond insurers that a person will not commit new offenses before the end of this case. When a person stands to loose thousands of dollars if they commit a new crime, he/she is less likely to do so.

Sometimes, a judge hears evidence that a person has little or no ties to the area, combined with the nature of charge alleged, and deems the defendant a flight risk. Traditionally, this makes the bond amount go up. However, in today’s world of technology, GPS is a real option, while costing around $300/month, gives judges an option other than a bond amount that would otherwise keep a person in jail before trial.

While not a good thing, GPS may be the only other option to a judge has, other than simply increasing bond and remanding a defendant until posted. In such a case, without GPS monitoring, a judge could hold that the schedule bond amount is just not enough to secure a defendant’s return to court.

The next question is: what can I do to get off this ankle monitor (GPS monitor)? If you prove that you are trustworthy and continue to appear at court dates, you will be giving your attorney the leverage and ammunition to have more chance to convince the judge to modify your bond conditions and remove GPS. Also, if you are unemployed, get a job.

Plea bargain or take my case to trial? (Plea offer)

Should I plea bargain or take my case to trial?

In every criminal case, the defendant is faced with the question: Should I plead bargain or go to trial? This question is very broad, so will be my answer. A defendant’s ability to plea bargain is controlled by his knowledge of the government’s case compared to the strength of his own case. A plea bargain is giving up your right to go to trial in exchange for something in return, usually a known sentence to a known charge. Plea bargaining exists in almost every criminal at some point. Some write about pros and cons of plea bargaining.

Should I plead guilty at arraignment? Probably not.

Should a defendant plead guilty at their first appearance or arraignment? Some courts have a prosecutor at arraignment dockets for plea bargaining. However, while sometimes this is the best time to make a deal, most times, arraignment is not the best time to enter a plea agreement.

Defendants rarely get to see their discovery at arraignment, so their ability to plea bargain is weak

A few questions to decide whether you should accept a plea agreement are the following: (1) have you seen the evidence against you? (2) does the evidence against you have weak points? (3) can you counter the evidence against you with your own evidence? (4) and so on.

These and other questions help you determine whether the plea offer is good or bad as compared to your chances of acquittal at trial. At arraignment, because you know so little about these risks for trial, you are best to hire an attorney to help you make the correct choices from the beginning.

At arraignment, especially if you do not have a lawyer, you will not have even reviewed the evidence against you. As such, pleading guilty is “roll of the wheel” and might be a good deal, and might not. Without the assistance of an criminal defense attorney, you will be guessing as to what is your best course of action.

Should I plead guilty or go to trial?

Whether to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you against a criminal charge is the first, most important decision in your case. Who will be your criminal defense attorney is your second, most important decision in your case. You must hire an attorney with whom you are comfortable communicating and trusting.

Whether to plead guilty or go to trial is one of the next, most important decisions in your case. This is one of your criminal defense attorney’s first main mission: helping to negotiate a plea offer or plea bargain that is at least as attractive as going to trial. When your criminal defense attorney negotiates a plea bargain or plea offer like this, he has given the defendant a true, meaningful choice.

Afford a criminal defense attorney (How to)

Afford a criminal defense attorney (How to)

A common situation: “I make too much money to get a public defender but not enough to afford an attorney what should I do for my criminal case?” The question is “how can I afford a criminal defense attorney?”

Many attorneys, such as myself, will accept a case with payment plans. credit cards allow for automatic processing, and make securing payment easier for those wh cannot afford to pay large amounts of cash to make an attorney retainer deposit.

HOW SOLOMON LAW CHARGE FOR CRIMINAL DEFENSE: When negotiating a flat rate attorney fee to handle the case, Solomon Law’s goal is to help you afford a criminal defense attorney. This firm does not want you to go without a criminal defense lawyer, we want to help you. After hearing the general facts of the case along with the client’s goals and expectations, Solomon Law estimates the time the client’s case will take and the attorney fees does not exceed that flat rate attorney fee. This helps you to afford a criminal defense attorney. Like most firms, Solomon Law requires at least a down payment to cover initial costs and attorney time. Luckily, Solomon Law also accepts credit cards and can arrange for automatic monthly credit card charges, another way to help clients afford a criminal defense attorney. This also saves the client time and effort in mailing payments or bringing payments to the Solomon Law office.

DISCOUNTS FOR PAYMENT IN FULL. My firm will also give you as much as a 5% discount for paying the entire retainer up front. This does three things: (1) saves my firm time in billing and collecting your payments because Solomon Law will only need to send you paid bills for attorney fees; (2) help you to afford a criminal defense attorney by passing that time savings to you in the form of a discount; and (3) allow you and your attorney to focus on the case instead of spending any time discussing payments due or money owed to the firm, which tends to complicate the relationship between attorney and client.

DOES SOLOMON LAW TAKE CASES “PRO BONO?” FOR FREE? Sadly, the answer is no. Most criminal defense cases take time to develop defenses, cost money to buy discovery from the government, and more time to prepare and defend in negotiation and trial. At this time, Solomon Law cannot take on your criminal defense for free.

We want to help you afford a criminal defense attorney in every way. Ask about flexible payment options.

Search and Seizure: No police search warrant – DNA

Search and Seizure: No police search warrant – DNA

Search and Seizure is a large part of criminal defense law, and your ability to help your lawyer protecting your hair, blood, and DNA is vital, especially when there is no police search warrant. If a person randomly asked for a blood or hair sample, most people would think that this was part of a Search and Seizure scam from the government. Protecting your hair, blood, and DNA is important if you don’t want to be a victim of giving a sample by consent, which is not a search under the 4th Amendment of the constitution.

When being interviewed by police, they offer you a drink or something to eat to be able to get a DNA sample from your saliva. Gum has been used to collect DNA from suspects. If offered a drink, ask to leave and speak to your lawyer. The police need a police search warrant to get your DNA. If the police ask you who your lawyer is, and you do not know a name of a criminal defense lawyer, ask them for a phone book. Better yet, keep a card of a criminal defense attorney just in case, or at least know a lawyer’s name.

Police need a police search warrant to collect samples of your blood or DNA without your consent, but when they ask you for a sample, and you provide them with a sample, you are, in effect, telling the government that they don’t need a warrant to get the sample. To assert your rights, you must say, “NO.” To assert your rights to a lawyer, you must ask for one clearly, “I WANT A LAWYER.”

If you are the suspect of an investigation, DO NOT participate in activities where you leave behind DNA with strangers, such as a “chewing-gum survey” or shampoo demonstration.

Remember, if you do not see a police search warrant, ask to see one and tell them you want a lawyer.

Statue of limitations – So long ago, but charging me now

Statue of limitations

Statue of limitations are the time required to bring charges or “commence the prosecution.”  The criminal prosecutor must bring charges within that time limit. If they try, any competent attorney should be able to help get the case dismissed. On the other hand, for the government to satisfy this requirement, the government must “commence a prosecution” within the time limit. Commencing the prosecution is usually as simple as law enforcement or the prosecutors getting the court to issue a warrant.

Statue of limitations in Kentucky

MISDEMEANORS. In Kentucky, for misdemeanors, the warrant must be issued within one calendar year of the alleged offense. If the warrant was issued one year of the offense 17 years ago, that it would be a valid warrant, and the statue limitations would not apply. The governing statute is “§ 500.050. Time limitations.”

FELONIES: In Kentucky, no statute of limitations exists for felonies, so a new charge today from twenty years ago is valid under the Statue of limitations for criminal charges. However, in such a case, other procedural defenses might be available, such as a Due Process violation, but speak to a lawyer to help you with any felony charge.

Statue of limitations in Colorado

In Colorado, a statute of limitation exist for every crime, based on the classification of the offense. This is governed by CRS 16-5-401. To summarize this statute: one year for traffic offenses, 18 months for misdemeanors, three years for most felonies, five years for “Vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the death of a person,” and no limit on the most serious of felonies.

Practical Defenses when Statutes of limitations are at play

When the offense happened so long ago, many cases fall apart because of the lack of memory on the part of the witnesses. As such, you should probably talk to an attorney to go over the discovery in your case. And do an investigation to see if the witnesses are still around and still remember anything.

A statute of limitations on criminal charges is meant to prevent old, stale cases from haunting a defendant. Memory and age of the case always effects the outcome. Generally speaking, the worse the memories of the witnesses, the better the outcome.

Lower Bond or Higher Bond? Learn How Bond Works

Get a Lower Bond: How Bond Works

Bond has two purposes: (1) ensures a defendant’s return to court and (2) ensures the person will not re-offend while awaiting trial. A lower bond shows a low risk of both of these factors. To get a lower bond, especially at a bond hearing, you will need a lawyer to present evidence to the judge which will allow him/her to assess a defendant as a low risk.

Mark S. Solomon
Mr. Solomon has worked many, many bond issues at both the trial and appeal level.

How much is my bond? Why is my bond so high?

A judge weighs many things when determining bond, such as the nature of the offense charges, the person’s criminal history, ties to the community, etc. A higher bond shows a higher risk of failing to appear at future court dates or reoffending (danger to the community). A lower bond shows a lower risk.

How do I get a lower bond?

If a judge gives a person a lower bond, he must have a good reason. To get your bond lowered, you need to convince the judge that you are likely to show up at all your court appearances, that not likely to flee, and that you are not a risk of re-offending while on bond. If your new offense happened while on probation or parole, a judge will probably not be receptive to hear arguments that you are not likely to re-offend, because the case before him/her was while you were under court orders not to commit new offenses already. Talk to a lawyer to see how to find good things in your life which will allow a judge to give a lower bond, to release you with confidence that he will not be in the news for allowing a dangerous person to run free among law-abiding people.

To get a lower bond, get a lawyer! You can have a bond hearing to ask the court for a lower bond.

What is a PR bond?

A personal recognizance  bond (PR Bond) is a lower bond. This is where the defendant signs his name promising to appear in court.

What is an unsecured bond?

An unsecured bond is a lower bond. This is where a judge assess a bond, but does not require the defendant to pay it to be released. However, if the defendant fails to appear to future court dates or commits new offenses, his next bond will not be a lower bond, it will be a higher bond or no bond.

How does bond work? How do bondsmen work?

After the judge sets a bond, someone has to pay the bond to the court before the defendant can be released. In Colorado, a person can contract with a bondsmen who pays the bond for a fee. The bondsman will typically expect to be paid approximately 10% of the bond, and will keep this as his fee. He will also require a co-signor who guarantees the rest of the bond if the defendant fails to appear to court and the court orders that the bond posted is forfeited. The bondsman’s business is ensuring that he is not the party who loses if the defendant flees. As such, if a defendant flees, the bondsman has two options: (1) send a bounty hunter to find the fleeing defendant and return them to the custody of the court to avoid a bond  forfeiture, or (2) collect the forfeited bond from the co-signor by attaching their collateral (car, house, watch, etc.).

What is a surety?

A surety is where one person pays a bond for the defendant. Why would a judge disallow surety? If the judge deems the person as a high risk to fail to return to court, or a danger to the community, the judge might also believe that the defendant would not care if the surety’s money is forfeited. The judge might believe that the defendant values his/her freedom over the surety’s money.

What About When the Judge Says “No bond”

If the judge says “no bond” then no amount of money or assurances makes the judge feel one or both of those bond objectives is possible, or that the defendant is too risky for either or both to be given a bond.  In short, the defendant is stuck until the judge allows bond. An attorney can help with this through negotiating with the government and reaching an agreement.

What about parole holds?

When a person is on parole and probable cause exists for a revocation, the parole officer (PO) can either arrest the person or issue them a summons to appear at a revocation hearing. Most of the times, the PO does not issue summons, but, rather, arrests them and holds them for a parole revocation hearing.

So, while the parole officer/parole board has the discretion to release a person accused of a parole violation on a summons (like a PR bond), they usually do not do this.

Remember that bond has two purposes: (1) make sure the person comes back to court and (2) does not reoffend while waiting to resolve the case.

If the defendant is facing a new charge, then a conviction for a new offense is almost always grounds to revoke a parole. If that’s the case, the defendant is alleged to have committed a new offense while on supervised release. Generally, this is not an easy case to try to get someone released when evidence exists of their reoffending while on supervised release: parole.

To have any hope of a defendant’s release in this situation, get a lawyer and talk to them about the specifics of the situation.