Criminal Law FAQ

Answers from a Pittsburgh Defense Lawyer

When you have difficult criminal law questions, it is important to get answers immediately from an experienced lawyer in your area. Our Pittsburgh attorney at the Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz has decades of knowledge representing those accused of crimes throughout Pennsylvania. You can rely on our team for answers when you need them most.

For more information about your individual situation, contact us online for a free initial consultation.


What is the first thing I should do after being arrested?

Rule number one is to ask to speak to an attorney. While it is important to avoid being rude to police officers, it is also your right to not answer any of their questions without speaking to your lawyer. Police will try to get you to answer incriminating questions and they are allowed to lie to you, so do not answer anything without an attorney present.

What are the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony?

The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that felonies are much more serious charges with much larger penalties. This does not mean that a misdemeanor offense should not be taken seriously. Misdemeanors can still put you behind bars and can still cost you a lot of money. Speaking with a skilled attorney who knows your options is important so you can keep your record clean of either of these charges.

Can I be arrested for drunk driving (DUI) if I haven't had much to drink?

The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is a blood alcohol content of .08. If you blow above that number, you can be cited for DUI. Depending on your body weight and some other factors, it may only take one alcoholic beverage to get to this point.

What penalties do I face after being arrested?

It depends on the crime. Some of the most common penalties individuals face if convicted of their charges include jail time, monetary fines, community service, probation, and a permanent criminal record.

How is parole different from probation?

Probation is what a court will order for an individual instead of sending him or her to jail. Under probation, the individual is monitored and has to meet certain requirements to avoid having more severe penalties imposed on him or her. Parole occurs after an individual has already been to prison and is given an early release for good behavior or other conditions. A person on parole is also monitored carefully and must meet certain requirements to avoid further prison time.

If my offense is very minor, do I still need a lawyer?

Yes. An attorney can prevent your minor charge from becoming a larger one, as well as present mitigating factors to the prosecution and the judge to possibly have your case dismissed completely. It is always wise to put a lawyer in your corner when facing any criminal offense.