Being charged with a crime can be an intimidating event, especially when you’re having trouble getting answers to the questions you have about your case. Attorney Stangl is a professional criminal defense attorney with years of experience and a long history of successful criminal defense case victories.
To help you learn more about the process of hiring a criminal defense attorney, we’ve compiled some of your most important questions about the process here:
Q: When should I call a lawyer?
A: As soon as you become aware that the police (or some other investigating agency) are looking for or investigating you, or if you believe that you may have committed a crime. A lawyer can intervene with the police and either prevent an arrest or, if you are going to be arrested, arrange for your surrender at a time and in a manner that minimizes embarrassment to you or your family. Hiring a competent lawyer in a timely fashion may also protect you from being questioned by the police. If questioned by the police, never answer any questions and always ask for an attorney to be present during any questioning, no matter where the attempted questioning takes place.
Q: If I am innocent, why do I need a lawyer?
A: More often than you think, innocent people get accused of committing crimes. Also, people who may have committed one crime often get accused (sometimes wrongfully) of committing additional and more serious crimes. As the accused, you have a constitutional right to counsel. You are always better off having a lawyer learn about the accusation and then discussing it with you to develop a strategy for responding to the charge.
Q: What should I do if I am arrested?
A: First, be polite and cooperative. Arguing, struggling or fighting will never make the situation better. Rarely, if ever, is a person able to convince an officer to stop an arrest. Remain silent! Finally, call a lawyer as soon as possible.
Q: Why is remaining silent critical?
A: Never answer any questions and remain silent even if it means going to jail. Call a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. When the police, or some other investigating agency, are investigating you or if they believe you may be involved in the commission of a crime, they will always attempt to talk to you. The reason they want to talk to you is not, as many police officers claim, “to get your side of the story” but rather in hopes that you will incriminate yourself. Incriminating statements are statements either verbal or written which show you may have committed or been involved in the commission of a crime.
Most people are aware, at least in some sense, of their Miranda rights. Those rights, which the Supreme Court laid out in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966) are protective rights which apply when two conditions are met; (1) a person is in custody, and (2) that person is subject to interrogation.
Most police and investigating officers are well versed in Miranda and will want to talk to you while you are not in custody. That is, they will come to your home or business and want to talk to you under circumstances where a reasonable person would feel free to leave the setting, thus the legal standard for arrest and/or custody is not met. Most people who are the subject of a criminal investigation incriminate themselves by making verbal and/or written statements while they are not in custody. There is no requirement that Miranda be read when a person is not in custody. Therefore, it is critical to invoke your right to remain silent under all circumstances. If the police ask you any questions you should simply state that “I invoke my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and I will not answer any questions without a lawyer present.” Most investigative officers will become upset or threatening after you tell them you are not answering any questions. This is the best initial step you can take to defend yourself even if it means being arrested and taken to jail.
Q: What is a misdemeanor?
A: In Wisconsin, a misdemeanor is a crime with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $10,000.00 fine. There are different classes of misdemeanors but never can the maximum penalty exceed one year in jail. Generally a conviction for a misdemeanor does not include a restriction on the right to possess firearms; however, there is an important exception. By virtue of 1996 amendments made to the Gun Control Act of 1968, persons convicted of domestic violence offenses are prohibited under Federal Law from possessing firearms. Section (g) (9) prohibits anyone “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from legally possessing a firearm.
Furthermore, it is unlawful for any person to possess a firearm “who is subject to court order that (a) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate; (b) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and (c) (i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or (ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.”
Q: What is a felony?
A: A felony is a crime that carries with it a potential sentence of at least one year and one day in prison. In Wisconsin, other serious consequences flow from a felony conviction including prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a firearm. A convicted felon also loses the right to vote, can never hold public office, and must submit a sample of their DNA to the DNA Database in Wisconsin.
If a person is convicted of a sexual assault or sexual offense that person will be required to register as a sex offender. If a person is convicted of a serious child sex offense that person cannot engage in any occupation or participate in a volunteer position that requires that person to work or interact primarily and directly with children under the age of sixteen.
Q: What happens if I am arrested and taken to the county jail?
A: You will be fingerprinted and photographed. You will either be released on personal recognizance or you will have to wait for a bail commissioner to set bail. Provide basic personal information only and do not make any statements, verbal or written, about the allegations. Remain silent.
Q: What is bail?
A: Bail is cash money or other property that is deposited with the court to ensure that the person accused will return to court when he or she is required to do so. If the defendant returns to court as required, the bail will be returned at the end of the case, even if the defendant is ultimately convicted. Sometimes cash bail is used to satisfy court costs or fines. However, if the defendant does not come to court when required or violates his or her bail conditions, the bail will be forfeited to the court and will not be returned.
Q: How much will it cost to hire a lawyer?
A: The cost of defending against criminal charges will vary depending upon the nature and severity of the charges, the facts of the case, and other factors including the lawyer’s reputation. We usually have a two set fee structure for representation in criminal cases. The first fee is a non-refundable retainer that covers all representation at the trial level unless the case proceeds to a jury or court trial. If the case proceeds to a jury or court trial then an additional non-refundable retainer fee is due three (3) weeks prior to the first scheduled jury trial date. If those fees are not tendered the firm will withdraw from further representation. The reason we have a two set fee structure is to allow us to thoroughly investigate, research, and develop defense strategies prior to the determination of whether proceeding to a jury trial is in our client’s best interest or not. That is a joint decision made with the client. Nonetheless, an individual has an absolute right to a jury trial regardless of our assessment of the likelihood of success on the merits.
We provide a free initial consultation so that we can fully assess your case and discuss fee arrangements. Do not be reluctant to ask specific questions about potential representation—there are no dumb questions and if hired our job and goal is to ethically, aggressively and thoroughly defend your case. Our goal is to win. We promise that you will be provided with straightforward advice about the best manner in which to proceed including potential likelihood of success on the merits, evidentiary and dispositive issues and chances of success at trial or on appeal.
Q: Do you handle all kinds of criminal cases?
A: At Stangl Law Offices, S.C. we have successfully defended numerous state and federal felony cases ranging from first degree intentional homicide, drug trafficking and drug conspiracies, fraud and other “white collar” crimes, and drunk driving, as well as criminal domestic and misdemeanor cases.
We have also successfully represented clients in both federal and state appellate courts having convictions reversed and have argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
See a list of Attorney Stangl’s Criminal Defense Victories