Posts Categorized Traffic Crimes

How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost?

Criminal law in Minnesota is different from other areas of law, and that is important when considering who to hire as your criminal defense lawyer.  When you seek a lawyer for personal injury, or wrongful termination, employment issues, or other lawsuits, the question is most often “do I have a case?”  Your consultation involves a fact exploration to decide if you have a good case to begin litigation.  Attorneys often are paid out of settlement or damage, so their fee is dependent on the outcome When you are charged with a criminal offense,  and consult with a criminal defense lawyer, circumstances are very different.  It means there is already a case, and it has a court file number, and the State has a lawyer, and that means you need one too.  You are facing the most serious consequences a government can impose.  Jail.  Prison.  The collateral consequences of employment, licenses, etc. are also on the line. A good criminal defense lawyer charges flat fees.  That means, you pay them immediately, and they handle the case from the beginning to end, so you are paying in advance for future work.  That doesn’t mean the fee isn’t refundable.  It simply means that you are giving you criminal defense lawyer security to handle the entire case because they have to stick to it.  While this seems perhaps strange or risky, there is a reason behind it.  A criminal defense attorney does not need to determine whether litigation can be started.  It already has, and there is a lot of work to do quickly.  And if you are facing a criminal charge, the outcome is either (1) Conviction, (2) acquittal, (3) dismissal (4) plea to lesser charge.  Negotiating these outcomes, or trying a case to a jury, is time consuming, and requires a criminal defense lawyer with a reputation for jury trials.  The trouble of a jury trial, and the chances of the State to win or lose, really drive the result of a case.  Even if a trial doesn’t happen, aggressive representation, negotiation, and motion practice, and the clear threat of trial,  are all necessary for a criminal defense lawyer to achieve the optimal result.  A common mantra at The Law Office of Alex DeMarco is “a good lawyer prepares to beat a case, prepares for trial, but also prepares to lose.”  A savvy defense lawyer must always be prepared for trial, but must also be prepared for sentencing if they lose.  If a case cannot be won, sentencing itself is also an important phase that can make the difference between sitting in a cage, and staying free. The other reason for flat fees is that a criminal defense attorney cannot charge a fee for a specific outcome, and cannot withdraw from the case without a motion hearing before the court.  This is because criminal law involves constitutional rights, and the very freedom of a person.  So a criminal defense lawyer is very much bound to you until the very end of the… Read more {+}

Expanding a Stop for a Minor Traffic Infraction

Many people throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul have been stopped for minor traffic infractions. Perhaps the driver was going a few miles over the speed limit or drove left of center for a second. However, there are times when the officer may expand the stop when the only offense was a minor traffic violation. The expanded investigatory stop is something that has been under a lot of scrutiny, as many of the actions by the officer that occur during these stops are questionable. As everyone knows, a police officer can stop a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that that vehicle is about to engage or has already engaged in a traffic violation or criminal act. They have to have probable cause because the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizures. If a person’s vehicle is unreasonably searched, then their Constitutional right is violated. Nonetheless, a police officer is to not expand an investigation on a vehicle if they don’t have probable cause to do so. For instance, you may have been speeding. The officer pulls you over, asks you how fast you were going, you say you don’t know, and then he proceeds with telling you and either lets you off with a warning or with a ticket in most cases. It is when the officer decides to search your vehicle, pat you down, or do something else not related to the purpose of the stop (speeding) that an expanded investigation is being conducted. Even asking questions not relevant to the purpose of the stop is considered an expanded investigation and this can make a driver very uncomfortable because they feel as if they are being accused of something when they have done nothing wrong other than speeding. Such questions can include: Reasons for traveling Details of the reason for traveling Whether or not there are large amounts of cash in the car If there are drugs or alcohol in the car (although the defendant does not smell of alcohol, marijuana, or even show signs of being intoxicated) Unfortunately, law enforcement officers throughout the Twin Cities have been known to ask such questions, believing that they may be able to secure the probable cause they need to conduct an expanded investigation. The exception is when there is probable cause to have the vehicle seized. When a vehicle is seized, an inventory may be taken. Anything that is found in that inventory could be used as evidence. In an ordinary traffic stop, the officer is to not go any further than the initial investigation. If it was running a stop sign or stop light or speeding, that is all the further the officer is to conduct their investigation. A question, such as, “do you know why I pulled you over” is an acceptable question. If the officer asks where you are coming from, where you are going, and why, you do not have to answer those questions because they are irrelevant to the… Read more {+}