State clearly but politely that you wish to have an attorney present before and during any questioning. If law enforcement continues to question you after you have requested an attorney, repeat your request for an attorney, but otherwise remain silent.
For more information, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has an excellent online article titled “ What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police,” which can be accessed at
www.aclu.org/know-your-rights. (En Español) The ACLU website contains other articles which covers topics such as “Searches and Warrants,” “Stops and Arrests,” and “Prisoners’ Rights.” The articles are not a substitute for seeking qualified legal advice and the articles are intended to give a general overview of the topics covered.
If you are not on probation or parole, you should remember that law enforcement officers are under no duty to advise you of your rights before they search you or your property. While you generally have the right to refuse to be searched or have your property searched, there are situations where law enforcement can search you or your property even without your consent; for example, if they have a search warrant. If you do not consent to being searched by law enforcement, you should clearly tell the law enforcement officer that you do not want to be searched. If they have a search warrant, ask for a copy of the warrant.
REMEMBER: ALL CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN AN INMATE AND ANYONE ELSE ARE RECORDED, with the exception of attorney-client conversations.
In addition to passing this difficult bar examination, most attorneys in our office have already practiced in other public defender offices or in other law firms. Additionally, the office makes sure that the attorneys are current in the state of the law by mandating continuing education, which they obtain both locally and by traveling to out-of-county seminars.
Before your next court date, you should contact our office in order to determine which attorney will represent you. If your schedule permits, you should meet with your attorney so that your attorney can explain the charges against you, learn from you the important facts of the case, and describe the steps that lay ahead in your case.
Second, you can call the Public Defender’s Office! If you don’t know your next court date, don’t put off calling to find out. If you miss a court date, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest or take you into custody when you do show up. If that happens, a failure to appear can actually follow you into your next case, if you have one, and can affect whether you obtain a release from jail or whether you are eligible for certain programs. Warrants are bad and to be avoided!
Remember that the bail schedule is a guideline and the actual bail set may deviate from the schedule, depending on the seriousness of the alleged crime(s), your past history, or prior failures to appear in court. Sometimes, the judge will O.R. you at your arraignment. When you appear with your public defender after arraignment, you are entitled to ask the court to lower the previously set bail amount and/or to release you on your own recognizance. Your lawyer will discuss this with you.
The decision to accept a pretrial offer or go to trial is perhaps the most difficult decision a defendant can make in a criminal case. This office is committed to providing you all of the necessary information and advice that we can, in order to help you make the best decision you can.
In the end, the decision to accept an offer and end your case without a trial or to fight your case at trial is yours and yours alone. It is important to remember that all public defenders are experienced, skilled and effective trial lawyers. If you wish to go to trial, you can be sure that you will get vigorous representation from a dedicated advocate.
If you wish to “clear” the warrant, you can request our assistance in placing the matter back on calendar. We also can accompany you to court, in some circumstances. It is far better to work with your attorney to clear the bench warrant than to ignore the warrant and take your chances.
It is usually very helpful to be prepared to explain why you failed to appear in court. If there is any written record (such as a letter from your doctor or your employer) which may help to explain your absence, the judge might consider giving you another chance rather than putting you into custody.
In all other cases, the Public Defender does not represent individuals in civil cases nor can our Office recommend any particular attorney or law firm. The El Dorado County Bar Association maintains a list of local attorneys, at
www.eldoradocountyattorneys.org or call (530) 626-5152.
REMEMBER: ALL CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN AN INMATE AND ANYONE ELSE ARE RECORDED, with the exception of attorney-client conversations. DO NOT EVER SPEAK WITH AN INMATE ABOUT ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THEIR CASE!