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Criminal Law FAQ


Frequently Asked Criminal Law Questions

What rights do I have after I am arrested?

1. The right to be told what you have been charged with.

2. The right to talk to an attoriney.

3. The right to remain silent in response to substantive questions by the police.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors. To qualify as a felony, the potential punishment includes a prison sentence of a year or longer. Misdemeanors are punishable by a prison sentence of less than a year.

Should you have a lawyer present when you are questioned?

If you are being questioned or investigated about your involvement in criminal activity, it is almost always best to have a lawyer present. When law enforcement officials want to question you (whether you are in custody or not), you should specifically request to have your lawyer present before answering any questions. If you desire an attorney but cannot afford one, the court will appoint one for you.

Should you exercise your right to remain silent?

Whether in custody or not you should usually refuse to talk to the police. To assert your right to remain silent all you need to do is state that you do not want to talk without your lawyer present. Many times speaking with the police only increases the chance that you will be convicted or receive a harsher sentence. If you do talk, your words may be twisted around and used against you. You also may waive your right to remain silent by answering questions after you have asserted the right to remain silent.

What is bail?

Bail is money or property that is deposited with the court to make sure that you show back up when ordered to do so. Bail can generally be made in the following forms: (1) cash or check for the full amount; (2) property worth the full amount of the bail; or (3) securing a bail bond. If you do not show up, the court keeps the bail and issues a warrant for your arrest.

How is bail set?

Judges are normally responsible for setting bail. The Eighth Amendment prohibits the setting of an excessive bail. The amount of the bail should not exceed what is reasonably necessary. In certain cases (like those involving violent crimes) it is not unusual for bail to be set very high or not allowed at all. There are also situations where people who are not a flight risk are released “on their own recognizance” without bail.

What is a preliminary hearing?

If the prosecutor decides to bring charges rather than present the case to a grand jury, the person charged is entitled to a preliminary hearing at which time the prosecutor must show that there is enough evidence of the crime to warrant a trial. f the judge finds that there is enough evidence to support the charges, then the case will move forward.

What is a grand jury?

In felony cases, prosecutors may present evidence to a grand jury who will decide whether an indictment should be returned. The proceedings are secret.

What is an arraignment?

Your first appearance in court is often at an arraignment. You have a right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay. At the arraignment the court will tell you what you are charged with; you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty; bail can be raised or lowered; and a trial date may be set.

How are attorney fees paid?

In most criminal cases we provide our legal services in return for a nonrefundable flat fee. With a flat fee is charged, the amount is determined based on our estimate of the amount of time and work that will be required to defend the case through trial. However, in certain situations we will agree to charge a refundable retainer and bill against that retainer at an agreed hourly rate.

What is sentencing?

Sentencing is the procedure where the punishment is decided and imposed. Sentencing occurs after a guilty plea or after a conviction.

What are Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide a recommended range of incarceration time. They involve a complex formula that takes into consideration various factors. The Sentencing Guidelines are advisory, not mandatory. The court may find that your particular case requires an upward or downward departure from what is provided for by the guidelines.

What is a white collar crime?

The phrase “white collar crime” generally refers to a crime committed by a business person, professional or public official which involves allegations of dishonesty and deception for one’s personal financial benefit.


At Danks, Miller & Cory, we provide experienced criminal defense for people charged with state and federal crimes throughout the State of Mississippi. Contact us online. or call us at 601-957-3101. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your specific case.

Our office is conveniently located in downtown Jackson, just off I-55. Parking is available behind the building. We schedule evening and weekend appointments on request.