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Barrister
Barrister, Criminal Defense Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 35377
Experience:  16 years practicing criminal defense.
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My 25 year old son has to appear in court tomorrow morning,

Customer Question

My 25 year old son has to appear in court tomorrow morning, he can not afford an attorney and will need a public defender. How do we go about that he was not given a lot of info on what he needed to do.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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Is this son's first court appearance tomorrow?

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What is the offence that he has been charged with?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Tomorrow is his first court appearance, I am not sure of the charge, he cashed a $100 check that was not his. He admitted to the police officer he made a very stupid mistake, they were happy he told the truth and was very upset with himself for doing a very stupid thing. All the officer gave him was information with court date. No citation. They said he could have spent 4 days in jail but because he called the officer and told the truth and has a clean record they were not going to do that.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, then tomorrow is his "arraignment" where the judge will explain the charges to him and then ask him if he wants to plead guilty or not guilty. The DA will have an "offer" for a plea of guilty that will resolve the case tomorrow. But if he wants to plead not guilty, which is normal, then at that point the judge will ask him if he can afford his own attorney. If he can't, the judge will enter the not guilty plea and then assign the case to a public defender.

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The judge will then set a "pretrial hearing" date a few weeks off so that the attorney will have an opportunity to speak with son and the DA and potentially negotiate out a plea deal for a guilty plea, or will then set the case for trial on the pretrial hearing date if son wants to take the case to trial.

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The judge should give him contact information for the local Public Defender's office once the referral is made and then son can contact them a day or two later once the case file is copied and sent over to the PD's office to find out who his attorney is and set up a time to come in and discuss the case and how to proceed.

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As an aside, I used to be a Public Defender and handled literally thousands of criminal cases over my time there..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
he pleads guilty, what might happen to him tomorrow he has very high anxiety
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would you suggest he pleads not guilty and negotiate a plea bargin with a public defender
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

This is kind of hard to predict, but if he has no previous record, then it is likely that a fine and some type of probation would be ordered since this is not a serious offense.

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But as a general rule, it is not a good idea to plead guilty on the first court date without having the opportunity to talk to an attorney representing the defendant. There may be flaws with the case that the attorney can use to challenge it or the attorney may be able to get him into a "diversion program" where he is put on probation, does some community service, and then at the end of the program the charges are dismissed.

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If he just pleads guilty, it is over and he has whatever penalty the judge imposes and a criminal conviction on his record. It won't hurt him to plead not guilty and then have some time to talk to an attorney because the "offer" won't get worse for the offense, but it has the possibility of getting better for him..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Even though he admitted to officer that he cashed the check, you are recommending he pleads not guilty so he has the opportunity to have a public defender to represent him? Will the judge be aware of conversation he had with the officer
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

I can't really recommend that he take a particular course of action because I am not representing him as his attorney... What I can say is that it won't hurt him to plead not guilty and talk to an attorney before making a final decision and if it was my son or daughter, they definitely wouldn't be pleading to anything before either myself or another attorney had reviewed the case.

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And the judge won't be trying the case tomorrow so won't weigh any evidence, but will likely have read the police report that was filed in the case..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate all your advice.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome. Glad to help any time...

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you have any other advice for tomorrow's hearing?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

If son has decided to plead not guilty, which would be a wise decision, then he simply needs to say as little as possible, listen to the judge, then plead not guilty and request a Public Defender. After that, he needs to contact the PD's office a day or two later to set up an appt to meet with his attorney.

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And also make sure he asks the PD to see if he is eligible for the "pre-trial diversion program". That is a one shot deal if he has a clean record so that he can keep it clean so it is very important to remember to ask to see if he qualifies.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, again thank you so very much.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome. Glad to help.

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Have a good evening.

Barrister