1. What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that carries a potential jail term of less than one year. Misdemeanors generally include such acts as disturbing the peace, petty theft, drunk driving with no injury to others, public drunkenness, simple assault and battery, and traffic violations. On the other hand, a Felony is the most serious type of crime. The term felony can be defined as a crime with a punishment of more than one year.
2. Would not it be easier if I just pleaded guilty to the charges?
It depends on the nature of case and the circumstances. It is almost always a mistake to simply enter a guilty plea to the charges before trial because once you enter a guilty plea to a charge; you will have a record of conviction. Furthermore, it also makes it difficult to mitigate and be heard. Not unless you are sure you committed an offence, pleading guilty is not a good idea.
3. Now that I have been arrested, what are my rights?
- Being advised on the right to remain silent; that is, your right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcement or other officials (Miranda rights);
- You have the right to an attorney and if you cannot afford one, the Court will appoint one for you;
- To be handled with dignity;
- Enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury
- To be informed of the reasons for the arrest; and
- Not to be compelled to be a witness against himself (Fifth Amendment).
4. Do I have the right to refuse to take a Breathalyzer if I am pulled over?
Yes, you can refuse to take a Breathalyzer. You do not have to agree, and have the right to politely refuse. However, this option attracts serious consequences. For instance, if an officer stops you and believes you are intoxicated, and you refuse to submit to a test, you may risk having your license suspended or even face jail time. Your refusal may also be used against you in any possible trial thus penalties might arise.
5. Do I have to take field sobriety tests?
This test is used by police officers when a person is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can refuse to take field sobriety tests. However, this has its advantages and disadvantages. If you consent to field sobriety testing, your performance can be used against you and failure can lead to an arrest. Nonetheless, you have the right to refuse to submit to a field sobriety tests as you are not legally required to do so.