Levitt Legal, PLLC.

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What Are The Common Types Of Criminal Cases That You Handle?

I handle a lot of cases involving the possession of a controlled substances, drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana or spice. I also handle a lot of cases charged as the possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. These cases often involve people who are traveling through Utah with large quantities of drugs, such as marijuana or methamphetamine, for instance. People who have drugs and either a firearm or a dangerous weapon also get charged with possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon by a restricted person. This is because the person automatically becomes restricted (as if they were a felon) simply by also possessing a controlled substance. I also frequently handle DUI cases, retail theft cases, forgery cases, all kinds of assault cases, aggravated assault, and cases involving threats with weapons, knives and guns. Additionally, I have handled whiter collar types of cases involving communications fraud, securities fraud, embezzlement, insurance fraud, etc.

What Are Miranda Rights? When Do They Come Into Play In A Criminal Case?

Miranda Rights stem from the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In that case, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for the kidnap and rape of an 18 year old woman. After two hours of interrogation by the Phoenix, Arizona police, Miranda signed a confession affirming his voluntariness and understanding of his full legal rights. Over the objection of his trial defense attorney, Mr. Miranda’s confession was admitted, and he was convicted and sentenced to decades in prison. After the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed on appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed, and held that a person interrogated in custody must prior to interrogation be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says will be used against him, and that he has the right to counsel, The requirement for “Miranda warnings” as they have come to be known were imposed by the court as a prophylactic measure in order to protect citizens from the dangers of coercive police interrogation. Everyone’s familiar with their Miranda Rights because they’ve been enshrined in our popular culture. While the law requires no recitation of any specific magic words, it does require them to inform a person of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney present before they begin a custodial interrogation. The two main buzzwords there are “custodial” and “interrogation.” Oftentimes, people think, “Well, I got a DUI and the officer did all this stuff on the side of the road and asked all these questions and never once read me my Miranda Rights.” Then they ask me, “Can you get my case dismissed because they never read me my Miranda Rights?” Unfortunately, the answer is always “no”, because a person in those types of situations is not normally considered to have been subject to a “custodial interrogation”. In other words, they are free to answer no, to end the encounter or not answer the questions at all. This is especially true in the roadside environment, which is usually where the DUI law is made.

Having said that, there are times when there is a significant enough show of force and restriction of freedom to argue that a person is being asked interrogative questions and is in custody for Miranda purposes. As you can see from my answer, it’s kind of a grey area. The issue of custody is not as clear-cut in the Fifth Amendment arena as it is in the Fourth Amendment arena where it’s defined as “not free to leave.”

When an officer pulls you over, it is at least a Fourth Amendment seizure for which the officer needs some justification. However, an officer can come up to your car and ask you questions without having to read you your Miranda Rights. This is because you are not in custody under the Fifth Amendment for Miranda purposes. Custody is defined from the perspective of a reasonable person in the citizen’s position and how that reasonable person would have understood the situation. The law states that Miranda becomes applicable when a suspect’s freedom of action is curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest. It doesn’t actually have to be a formal arrest, but there have to be actions that are associated with that kind of limitation on movement. Putting somebody in handcuffs, a locked car where they’re not free to leave, or in a locked room where they’re not free to leave are the types of restrictions that would normally constitute being in custody.

An interrogation is basically defined as verbal actions on the part of the police that they know or should know are reasonably likely to prompt an incriminating response from the subject. So, an interrogation doesn’t even need to be composed of questions; it can be composed of actions that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. There are a number of factors that the Utah courts consider in an interrogation, including whether or not it’s focused on the accused, whether or not objective indicia of arrest were present, and the length and form of the investigation. These are the most common factors that are considered in this often-times extensive legal analysis to determine whether or not the Miranda protections apply.

How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges?

Under normal circumstances, I would never advise my clients to plead guilty as charged. In other words, there is usually always something to be gained by pleadings ‘not guilty’ at the outset of the case, obtaining and reviewing the evidence, and making an informed decision about the best course of action from there. Usually any admission of guilty is to a reduced charge or some other concession and accommodation to my client as the accused defendant. In the end, though, whether or not I advise my clients to plead guilty even to amended or reduced charges or penalties all depends on the leverage that we have in negotiation, I may or may not advise my clients to plead guilty to criminal charges. Leverage is determined by the facts and how the law applies to those facts. If we have a lot of leverage, then I would strongly counsel them against making a hasty decision to plead guilty. I always empathize with my clients and understand that they have those grey clouds of a criminal case hanging over them in their life at that time. For some people, it causes a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. I try to recognize that and counsel them appropriately. Sometimes, if there aren’t good laws and facts on our side, then pleading guilty might make sense, especially in cases where the interest and the benefits of a resolution outweigh any kind of delay or further litigation. I try to honestly and realistically evaluate the case with them in light of their goals and objectives.

For more information on Criminal Cases In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.

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(801) 455-1743