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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 13891
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I was arrested for disorderly conduct alcohol after questioning

Resolved Question:

I was arrested for disorderly conduct: alcohol after questioning the officer that was arresting a friend. I was not read Miranda rights nor was I told why I was arrested until after I had spent 8 hours in custody and then released. I was not given a drug/alcohol test either.

I was issued a notice to appear in court soon. I also was not allowed to make a call except in the area code of the area I was in which did me no good since it would not give any access to the people I needed to contact for help. Was I entitled to call wherever I needed to in order to contact the persons I needed to get help?

I'd like to know what I can expect, what I should do before the court date and should I seek an attorney? Is a court appointed attorney enough for a case like this.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 6 years ago.
Good afternoon, thank you for your question. Sorry to hear about your circumstances.

Miranda warnings only need to be given to you if the police intend to interrogate you after you are in custody. If you were not questioned while in custody, then there was no need for a warning.

There is also no constitutional right to a phone call and the rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jails only let you a lawyer or family member to arrange bail, others will allow you to call a family member or friend, but in my experience, it's not unusual that you can only call within the area code of the jail. Normally, they also won't allow you to call anyone until you are booked.

It is alarming to think you were not told why you were being arrested. Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor in California, and can include everything from intoxication to pan handling and peeping. It carries up to one year in jail and fines, though for a first offense, a conviction would generally result in probation/fines/court costs. You may also be offered if this is your first offense something called diversion/defered adjudication which is a program where if you successfully complete the probation terms, they dismiss the charge from your record, and then you can have the arrest and court record expunged.

While this is a minor charge, it would still be a misdemeanor on your record if your were convicted. And, there may be issues here I'm not aware of (I don't have any documents to look at, etc). You should consult with a criminal defense lawyer about this matter. Many offer free or low cost initial consultations and they can answer many of the questions you probably have.

If you can't afford a private attorney, you may be able to get a public defender. A public defender is a licensed and qualified attorney just like any other, and can certainly handle matters of this nature. Your first court date is your arraignment, This is where the charges will be read and you will be asked to enter a plea. Plead not guilty and then the court will ask if you have an attorney. Tell the court you can't afford one and that you are requesting a public defender be appointed. Once you have entered your plea, the court will schedule the case for a later date.

Once you have a lawyer, they can speak to you about what happened, request any evidence that the state may have, and if necessary, enter into plea negotiations with the prosecutor to try and reduce the severity of the penalty.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have follow-up questions or need additional clarification, please click reply and I will be happy to assist you further.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your answer. So it sounds like I will have more than one court appearance. I read elsewhere that I am supposed to request a court appointed attorney as soon as I arrive to court and before going in for my appearance and that you should plead not guilty. I want to avoid serving time so I fear if I plead guilty it would set me up for jail time. Is this so? You say if I plead guilty I should state I need a court appointed attorney, so I'm a little confused? Please reply and thank you.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.

I may have made a typo there, I'm sorry. That should read "You should plead NOT GUILTY and request a court appointed lawyer if you cannot afford a private attorney. My apologies. I do think jail is very unlikely for a first offense, especially given the nature of the charge even if you were to plead guilty, but it's never recommended. For one thing, you don't know what a judge will do, whereas if you get an attorney they can work out a plea, so you'll know what the penalties will be (subject to court approval) prior to walking into court.

Second, if you just plead guilty, you deny yourself the opportunity to speak with a lawyer and discuss your case and have them review evidence that the state may have.

And yes, you are correct, there would be more than one court appearance if you show up to the arraignment and plead not guilty. The court will set the case on the court calendar for a later date. But, if you decide to plea, and reach an agreement with the prosecutor, then you can go back to court and enter the plea at that time, and that will be it.
RobertJDFL and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you much.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 6 years ago.
My pleasure. Best regards XXXXX XXXXX