Criminal Defense Attorneys in Dothan, Alabama
Being arrested and charged with a crime is a serious situation. Even for a relatively minor offense, the consequences can be severe and long lasting; including heavy fines and penalties and the loss of your freedom for an extended period of time. Having a criminal record can have indirect consequences as well, such as problems obtaining employment, housing, loans, admission to college, and losing your right to carry a firearm. With so much at stake, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to protect your rights and interests.
The practice of criminal law is not for the faint of heart. It requires skill, knowledge and the ability to think both creatively and strategically. At Smith & McGhee, PC, our attorneys are tough, aggressive and extremely knowledgeable in Alabama and federal criminal law. Armed with that legal knowledge and with experience in dealing with hundreds of cases of all kinds, we vigorously defend the rights of our clients, fighting charges and working to minimize the consequences of a conviction.
Defense Lawyers Skills, Abilities and Strong Legal Knowledge
From the most minor misdemeanors to the most severe felonies, we defend clients facing all types of criminal situations. This includes but is not limited to:
- Federal Criminal Law: We defend those who are charged with all crimes that are handled in federal court.
- DUI: We provide strong defense for those facing drunk driving charges, including aggravated DUI, repeat offenses and issues involving diminishing consequences of DUI.
- Drug Crimes: We have handled cases involving all types of drug charges; including simple possession, distribution, manufacturing and issues that involve the consequences of drug possession crimes and drug trafficking.
- Drug Trafficking: This involves higher amounts of controlled substances, with intent to distribute.
- Sex Crimes: Including sexual assault, rape and other serious sex crimes.
- Assault: Including violent crimes, murder, manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
- Property Crimes/: Theft, burglary, robbery and other property-related crimes.
- Domestic Violence: Domestic assault and other issues related to family conflict and family law.
- White Collar Crimes: Including fraud, embezzlement and counterfeiting.
- Traffic violations: Including speeding tickets and citations for reckless driving or driving without a license.
- Expungements: Expunging criminal records for qualifying charges.
- College Student Arrests: We help individuals who have been arrested on campus, or who are attending a local university.
Dothan Criminal Defense Lawyers Using Strategy and Knowledge for Your Case
As lawyers, we are aggressive and strong yet very strategic in the approach that we take to representing our clients. That means that we will listen to your story, carefully analyze all the details of your case and develop a detailed and focused plan to help you reach the best possible results. We will use that strategy to defend you at all stages of case preparation, negotiation, hearings and arraignments.
What Should I Do If I Am Arrested?
Regardless of the seriousness of the charges against you, you have numerous legal rights and protections under state and federal law, including the right to hire an attorney. Here are some of the most important steps to take if you are arrested in Alabama:
Be Respectful with Law Enforcement
It goes without saying that no one enjoys getting arrested, and it can be very hard to control your emotions at a time like this. That said, nothing good can come out of disrespecting law enforcement officers and/or resisting arrest. Even if the officers are not treating you kindly, it is in your best interests not to do anything that could make the situation worse. Be firm and assert your rights but do so in a polite and courteous manner.
Exercise your Right to Remain Silent
When you are arrested, the officer is required to read you your Miranda Rights. One of the most important of these is the right to remain silent. Although they have to inform you of this right, they are hoping that you will talk to them and say something that is incriminating. They will also distort things you say and try to spin them in a way that will incriminate you. For these and other reasons, it is always best to remain silent until you have had a chance to talk with an attorney. This is true not only with law enforcement officers, but also other individuals you talk to in jail. These are not trustworthy individuals, and things you say to them could also end up being used against you.
Avoid Granting Law Enforcement the Right to Search without a Warrant
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures and grants individuals the right to be secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Law enforcement officers will often want to search your person, vehicle, home, or surroundings at the time of the arrest in order to obtain evidence that could incriminate you.
It is important to understand that, in most circumstances, law enforcement must have a warrant issued by a judge to perform such a search (after demonstrating probable cause). Do not allow an officer to perform a search without a warrant. They may say something like, “we can easily get a warrant, but it will be a lot better for you if we do the search now.” If they say they can get a warrant, then politely insist that they go ahead and obtain one.
Assert Your Right to Legal Counsel
As we alluded to earlier, you have a right to an attorney after being arrested, and you should assert that right as soon as possible. Avoid taking part in any type of questioning or any other steps without first retaining the services of an experienced attorney. Even from the outset, there are numerous pitfalls that can seriously damage your case, and you are at risk of having your rights severely compromised if you decide to go it alone without an attorney.
Are You under Criminal Investigation?
There are some instances when the wheels of justice (or injustice in many cases) are turning behind the scenes before you are ever arrested. In fact, an investigation may have been opened up against you to determine if there is enough evidence to formally charge you with a crime. As soon as you become aware that you are under criminal investigation, you need to take proactive steps to mitigate the circumstances as much as possible.
If you have reason to believe that you are under criminal investigation, get in touch with one of our skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyers. We can guide you through this process and forcefully assert your rights during the investigation phase. Some of the ways we can help include:
- Accompanying you When you are Questioned by Investigators: If you are being investigated, you may be called to come into the station for questioning. As we talked about earlier, being questioned without a lawyer can be very risky, and you could end up saying something that could be twisted around and used against you. You could also fall into a “perjury trap” and end up being charged with a process crime like lying to investigators simply because you forgot a minor detail. Our attorneys can advise you on what questions you should expect, how you should answer them, and which ones you should refuse to answer.
- Putting Together a Rock-Solid Defense: If an investigation has begun, this means there is a fairly good chance you might be charged with the crime. That being the case, there is no reason to wait to start crafting your defense strategy. We will conduct a thorough investigation of our own to identify any and all weaknesses in the case against you. This may include locating witnesses and securing important pieces of evidence that will help strengthen your case. Being fully informed on all the critical facts of the case will help ensure that your answers to investigators’ questions are consistent, and it can also help convince the other side to end what is often a misguided investigation before any criminal charges are ever filed.
- Negotiating with the Government on your Behalf: Based on what is found during a criminal investigation, the government might try to negotiate with you. For example, they may want to go after someone else you may be associated with, in which case they might offer you a plea bargain in exchange for your testimony against another suspect. Since we will be fully informed on all of the facts and have the strongest possible defense in place, you will be in a position to negotiate a much better deal.
Serving Areas Such as Dothan, Ozark And Enterprise — Criminal Defense Lawyers
You may have been taught in civics class that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Although the presumption of innocence is a bedrock of our legal system, unfortunately, it does not always exist in our courtrooms. The reality is that many judges and prosecutors know each other, and it is often presumed that a defendant is probably guilty, or the prosecutor would not have brought charges against them. This is why you need defense attorneys who have in-depth knowledge of the law and know what it takes to mount a successful defense. If you still want more information you may check out our criminal defense frequently asked questions page.
At Smith & McGhee, PC, we are ready to go to work for you! We offer initial consultations by phone by calling 334-377-1674 or you can contact us online. We are available for evening and weekend appointments and jail visits when needed. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.