Is it best to speak to a lawyer before or after I’m charged?
Do not wait to speak to a lawyer. Even if you have not been charged with a crime, as soon as you are arrested you should seek the help of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney’s early involvement can reduce the negative impacts of the case and perhaps even negotiate a dismissal. Additionally, if your charge is a DUII, they can help with the DMV issues that happen outside of the criminal charge.
Although you are potentially in limbo until the prosecutor decides to file charges, a criminal defense attorney often is able to get things done in the interim. They can sometimes contact the prosecutor before the charges are filed and negotiate a dismissal or a plea bargain. Negotiating before charges are filed allows the prosecutor and your attorney more flexibility. Once charges are filed, situations such as policy may prevent plea bargains.
You also may have evidence that is useful in another case, that may reduce the likelihood of you being charged. Your attorney could work with the prosecutor and police officer to assist in that collaboration. Without the assistance of a lawyer, it is very difficult if not impossible to arrange such situations.
If arrested, will I need to post bail or will can I just be released. How much will I have to pay for bail?
If you are arrested in Oregon and the charges are not dismissed, there are other ways to be released prior trial. Depending on the charge, the court may release you on your own recognizance, or set a bail that will have to be paid for your release.
If you are given the option to post bail, it is important to know that unlike many other states, Oregon does not use commercial bail bonding. That means that there won’t be any bounty hunters coming after you when you do not show up for court, instead, the police will be. Bonds are actually paid to the county, most of which require only 10% of the full bail. If you do not show up for court, not only will you be re-arrested, you will also be liable for the full bond.
The amount of your bail is based on the offense you are charged with. It’s hard know exactly how much to expect, because there is a huge variation in bail bond amounts. They can range from $10,000 to $75,000 per offense. Once again, you are generally expected to pay 10% of that bail.
If your crime is low level or you don’t have a criminal history, you may be able to be released on your own recognizance. Most of the time this is done if you have someone else who can vouch for you, or if you have a job or attend school. If you violate any of the conditions of the release, however, you will be arrested.
Is it really that important for me to exercise my right to remain silent when talking to the police?
Absolutely. The right to remain silent is a guaranteed right in the Oregon and US Constitution that prevents you from self incrimination. This means, it is in place to keep you from saying things that will harm your case. Even if this right is not re-iterated to you as the Miranda Warning, it is you right to use it.
If you are under suspicion for a crime, it is generally not in your interest to talk to the police at all. Most of the time, the police are talking to you in order to obtain an admission of guilt. They are trained in how to get useful information from you that they can add to their police report. Even if you are simply trying to explain what happened, chances are something you say will be used against you.
It is best practice to not talk to anyone about the incident at all, including friends and families. Just like police will ask you questions, they can also ask anyone that you know. If those people do not know anything, they are less likely to accidentally incriminate you. If you are questioned by the police, simply say you will not answer questions and you wish to talk to an attorney. Then, keep your mouth shut.
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