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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I did it. Should I just go in and plead guilty on the first date and be done with it?

A: No! Even if you are guilty, there are many potential outcomes that could be much better for you than what is available that first court date. In some cases, you may be eligible for diversion or deferred entry of judgment – essentially, getting a court order that if you do the right thing for a period of time, you get your case dismissed. In other cases, there may be issues with the police conduct such as an unlawful search. And if a dismissal isn’t in the cards, there are still a wide range of potential outcomes, including potential reductions in sentencing or lesser charges. If you are charged with a criminal offense, contact The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns for a free consultation to go through these possibilities and more.


Q: I was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, but my partner wants to drop the charges. Do I still have anything to worry about?

A: Yes you do. The alleged victim of a case has a say in whether and how the case is prosecuted – but the final word goes to the prosecutor. Consequences can include restraining orders starting from the first court date, even if your partner declined an emergency protective order and now says nothing happened. If you are arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, it’s important to get to work immediately to prepare for and fight against those consequences. Call The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns for a consultation today.


Q: What should I expect at my first court appearance?

A: Your first court date is your arraignment. Three main things happen. The first main purpose is to have the charges against you made official and to announce your lawyer, or request appointment of one. The second main purpose is to discuss the terms of your pretrial release; in cases where the defendant is in custody, this may be an opportunity to secure release, and for certain crimes the court may add terms like stay-away orders, abstention from alcohol, and pretrial supervision. The third main purpose is to decide whether you want to exercise your right to a speedy trial, which may be to your advantage sometimes but not others times. The DA may give a few details of their theory of the case, but those details are not evidence in your case. Evidence, and actual trial and motion proceedings, do not occur until much later in the process. Nonetheless, it is important to secure a lawyer like The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns to get working on the case as soon as possible.


Q: Do I have to be present in court?

A: If you have retained an attorney, you usually do not have to appear in a misdemeanor case. You would still need to appear in a felony case. In some situations, arrangements for waiver of future appearances, or video appearances, can also be made. Contact The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns to speak specifically about your case, and at what court dates your appearance may be required.


Q: If I get pulled over, and an officer asks me if I’ve been drinking, should I answer?

A: You have a right under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not to say anything to law enforcement. You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. If you don’t say anything, your silence cannot be used against you. Read more about what The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns has to say about that here. Contrary to what you may think, though, the cop doesn’t always have to advise you of your rights. It is up to you to invoke your right to remain silent to any questions – politely tell the officer you would prefer not to answer any questions without a lawyer present.


Q: Do I have to participate in field sobriety tests?

A: You are not required to participate in any tests, answer any questions, blow into any machines, walk any straight lines, or just about anything else prior to arrest. You cannot fight or obstruct an officer, but you have every right not to participate, and you probably shouldn’t. As with your right to remain silent, you have to say no on your own – the cop doesn’t have to present the option to you, and often they won’t. And while you never have to answer questions, and you never have to participate in any test before you are arrested, there is a major exception: if you are arrested for a DUI, you must agree to take either a blood test or a breath test – or else face a hard driver’s license suspension for at least a year, even if you are not convicted of DUI. Keep your wits about you during the law enforcement encounter, and then contact The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns as soon after as you are able.


Q: What happens to my license if I get a DUI?

A: Most of the time, when you are arrested for a DUI, you have to take action within 10 days to avoid an automatic license suspension; contact us quickly if arrested for DUI and The Law Office of Samuel D. Berns can make sure you preserve your rights. If you get the contest in timely, you’ll have the opportunity to see all the allegations before the DMV can take any action on your license. Eventually, though, there is the possibility of a license suspension if you commit a DUI. However, you can drive during that suspension by starting a DUI class, putting an interlock in your car, and getting an insurance document called an SR22. This will last at least six months; exactly how long it lasts depends on a few factors with which we can help you out. Of course, if you didn’t do it, we can help you beat the DUI and not face any license consequences. Remember though – if you’ve been placed under arrest for a DUI, you are absolutely required to give either a breath test or a blood test, or else you may be facing a hard suspension with no ability to drive legally for at least a year.