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A Defendant’s Rights at Trial

advocate and jurors in courthouseWhen someone is charged with a crime, they become a criminal defendant. During every trial, defendants have access to some legal rights and protections. These rights are collectively referred to as “the due process of law,” which the government must offer during any criminal case.

The Right to Representation
Every criminal defendant has the right to adequate legal representation. If the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the government will provide one. While uncommon, a defendant does have the right to decline legal representation and represent himself.

The Right to a Speedy Trial
Defendants also have the right to a speedy trial; this ensures that the government will not conduct private hearings that may violate the defendant’s rights.

The Right to a Public Jury Trial
Juries consist of members of the community randomly selected by the court for the prosecution and the defense. To ensure an unbiased verdict, all defendants have the right to be tried by a jury.

Reasonable Bail Costs
As per the eighth amendment, a criminal defendant cannot be charged excessively for a bail bond to allow their release as they await trial. Assistance is available to help pay for bail in the form of PA bail bonds.

Things You Should Know About DUI Checkpoints

DUI checkpoint road signIn Pennsylvania, a DUI checkpoint is a marked, stationary roadblock conducted by law enforcement for several hours at a time. The police officers on the scene of a checkpoint use a predetermined standard in deciding which cars to stop and check for driver intoxication. Sometimes, those who are arrested on a first-time DUI offense at a checkpoint are released on their own recognizance (OR), but other cases will require a Luzerne County bail bond for the offender to be released from jail.

The use of DUI checkpoints in Pennsylvania has become controversial. While those in favor of checkpoints consider the stops to be deterrents to drunk driving, others believe that roadblocks intrude upon a person’s constitutional rights. However, a DUI roadblock is indeed considered constitutional so long as it meets the following requirements:

  • Nondiscriminatory methods of stopping cars must be used at DUI checkpoints. Officers can stop every car, every other car, every fourth car, etc. But, whatever method chosen for stopping cars must be nondiscriminatory against the drivers.
  • The stop must be brief and it cannot include a search of the vehicle or its occupants (unless if officers find probable cause to do so).
  • Police must give advance notice of a checkpoint in the form of road signs or notices through the media.
  • The time and location of the roadblock must be based on a history of drunk driving offenses in that area.

Mistakes to Avoid After Being Arrested

man in handcuffsWhile getting arrested is scary, it is still possible for your situation to worsen if you’re not careful. As you’re being taken into custody, your actions can have a big impact on your defense and the judge’s ultimate ruling. Here are some common mistakes to avoid if you’re placed under arrest.

Resisting Arrest
Fight the temptation to evade arrest. If you do, the additional crime of doing so will likely be added to your sentence.

Making Admissions without a Lawyer
While officers will attempt to talk to you about the incident, it is always a mistake to provide details without the presence of a lawyer. Keep in mind that the police are allowed to mislead a suspect during an interrogation, but anything you admit can still be used as evidence against you.

Waiting until You’re Indicted to Hire a Lawyer
You should hire a lawyer as soon as you’re released from jail. The earlier a lawyer is involved, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.

Missing Your Court Appearance
Even if you’re incident of the crime you were arrested for, it’s still crucial that you show up for your court appearance. Doing so will provide the judge with a reason to disfavor you, and it can also negatively affect your chance of being approved for a Lehigh County bail bond.

What to Do if You Are Pulled Over

police car in rearview mirrorFew things are more stressful than seeing blinking lights in your rearview mirror while hearing a siren. Not only is being pulled over a test for your nerves, but it’s also a test for your civil rights. For the possible outcome from a traffic stop, stick by these simple steps.

When You See the Police Car
As soon as it’s safe to do so, respond safely by using your signal to pull over as far to the right as possible. Keep in mind that pulling over right away isn’t an admission of guilt; rather, it ensures the officer that you were being alert.

After Stopping
Turn off the engine, roll down your window and keep your hands visible. Do not reach for documentation until instructed, as the officer may misinterpret your intentions. If you have suspicion about the officer’s authenticity, kindly request to see their photo identification and badge.

Talking to the Officer
Avoid saying anything that the officer can record and potentially use against you. When they ask if you know why you were stopped, or if you know how fast you were going, simply respond “no”. Remain polite, but don’t incriminate yourself by admitting to violations or admitting you were negligent.

Knowing Your Rights
Bail bond agents in PA know that a deputy can only search your vehicle without your permission if they have a valid reason to do so. For example, if an officer observes you trying to throw something out the window, he or she may legally search your car. An officer can also frisk you if they have reason to believe you’re armed, dangerous, or involved in criminal activity.

What if I Can’t Post Bail?

gavelThe inability to post bail is a tough situation. Depending on the circumstances, bail can be very expensive – and if a defendant doesn’t have enough money (even for a bond), they will likely be stuck.  How long they will ultimately stay in jail will depend on the charges, jurisdiction, and the courts.

When bail is not posted, the defendant will typically wait for their arraignment before a judge. It is at this hearing that the defendant can plead guilty or innocent. The judge has the authority to raise or lower the bail, release the defendant on a promise to appear (on “own recognizance”), or even decide that the defendant is not entitled to bail.

Bail is set at a high amount (or not at all) if the accused was charged with a serious crime and/or the judge does not trust he or she will return to court for trial. However, an attorney can file a motion for the reduction of the amount and have the ruling reviewed.

If you or a loved one does not have sufficient funds available for bail, your best option is to contact Liberty Bail Bonds for fast bail bonds in Stroudsburg, PA. Due to the circumstances of waiting for court and the discretion of the judge, most people choose to begin the bail bonds process before their hearing.

Ways to Help When a Loved One is in Jail

jail cellIt can be a daunting and hopeless feeling to have a loved one locked away in jail. You’re naturally worried about their safety, and you’re anxious about what’s to come. Even if you’re a little hurt that your loved one may have committed a crime, you still want to help him or her cope with the situation. Here are some ways to consider helping your friend or family member.

Get a reputable lawyer
While it may seem obvious, many people neglect taking the action of contacting a lawyer when the crime is a less serious one. However, no matter the crime, your loved one will still need good legal representation to ensure they’re brought home as soon as possible.

Stay open for communication
While you won’t be able to text someone that’s in prison, you can still ensure you’re answering their calls or even pay them a visit. Just ensure not to speak about the case, as you never know who may be listening to your conversation.

Offer money
Your loved one will need a commissary account in order to get necessities such as toiletries or a phone card. You can help by making sure they have enough money for these essential items.

Bail them out
If a bail amount has been set, contact us at Liberty Bail Bonds for bail bonds in Allentown, PA. An agent is available to help you get your loved one out of jail as they await trial.

Knowing Your Rights on Cinco de Mayo

alcoholDespite the origin of Cinco de Mayo and its traditions, the holiday in America is commonly associated with an opportunity to drink a lot of margaritas or cerveza. That being said, any Harrisburg bail bondsman will know that those who drink excessively on Cinco de Mayo are more likely to have a run-in with the law. If you plan on celebrating the holiday and consuming alcohol, it’s important to know your rights.

  • It is your right to deny a Breathalyzer test, but doing so may result in your driver’s license being suspended for six months.
  • It is also your right to deny an officer’s request to search your property or home. Keep in mind that if you do allow a search on your premises, officers can use any evidence during the search against you in court (even if there was no warrant).
  • The police do not have the right to use excessive force or search/arrest you without probable cause.
  • If an officer does attempt to put you in handcuffs, do not resist – even if you feel the arrest is unwarranted. Resisting arrest will, in turn, give the police a valid reason to arrest you.

As Americans, the 4th Amendment protects us from the unlawful search and seizure of our private residences without a warrant. However, if police officers can see a felony being committed, they have the legal right to act. The general rule is simple: Don’t break the law. This includes purchasing alcohol for those under 21, using a fake ID to purchase alcohol, or driving under the influence.

What if I Have the Funds to Pay My Own Bail?

signing checkIf you’ve recently been arrested, you’re likely hoping to get out of jail quickly and privately. However. being able to pay your own bail will depend on several factors. If you don’t qualify, you will be required to have a cosigner pay the bail. Keep reading to know which situation to likely expect.

The court will likely only permit you to post your own bail if you’ve committed your first-time offense. It’s also pertinent that you have a good credit score, stable employment, and a stable living situation.

On the other hand, multiple offenses, insufficient credit and unemployment are all conditions that will call for a cosigner.

If you do qualify to post your own bail, ask to be released on your own recognizance at your first court hearing. This way, you will just need to provide a statement that you will appear in court as requested. Otherwise, try asking for a lower bail.

If you don’t qualify to pay your own bail, you will be required to summon someone who knows you and would qualify. Your best option is to be honest and contact your local bail bondsman. At Liberty Bail Bonds, an agent is always available to help you with Delaware County bail bonds and more.

Recognizing a Fake Bail Bondsman

Harrisburg bail bondsmanHaving a loved one in jail typically causes a lot of stress and worry throughout a family. Family members may be understandably embarrassed, worried, and anxious about the situation, and this combination may leave them vulnerable to bail bond scams and fraud. Here are some ways to identify some costly and illegal tricks and traps while seeking a bail bond agent in PA.

You Receive a Cold Call
It is illegal to cold call potential bail bond clients in an effort to solicit business. However, fake bail agents are known to obtain booking information online and track loved ones via the Internet so they can offer their services. In the bail industry, a client must contact a bail agent first. If you receive a cold call from someone claiming to be a bail agent, hang up the phone and do your research for a reputable bail agent.

They Charge Very Little
Irreputable bail agents may attempt to offer you a rate that is much lower than the 10% bail bond premium required by law in most states. While we all jump at the chance to save money, a Harrisburg bail bondsman offering a cheap rate is likely either being deceptive in their advertising or blatantly breaking the law.

Common Reasons for Being Denied Bail

Lancaster county bail bondsThe experience of getting arrested and ending up in jail be even worse if you find that you’ve been denied bail. There are multiple reasons why bail can be denied entirely.

On Probation or Parole
If the accused is currently on probation or parole for a previous offense, the most recent crime will likely be considered a violation.

Threat to Self or Others
Suspects that are considered unstable cannot be released with the help of Lancaster County bail bonds, as they may hurt themselves or others. However, in certain situations, the court may release the suspect to a treatment facility instead of jail while a trail is prepared.

Flight Risk
If someone displays erratic behavior and it is believed they may leave the city, state, or even the country, they could be denied bail. When a judge sees a history of running from the law, they will typically play it safe by keeping the accused in jail.

Severe Crime Involvement
Felony charges such as murder are subject to denied bail. Suspects of such felonies must be held in custody until they’re released according to a jury’s guilty or innocent decision.

Not a U.S. Citizen
Certain immigration laws require people to remain in custody if they are not U.S. citizens. In addition to being denied bail, the suspect may also be deported back to their home country.