Criminal Defense FAQs
1. What is the difference between a felony and misdemeanor?
Felony is a crime where the maximum punishment in prison exceeds one year. Misdemeanor is a crime where the maximum punishment in jail is one year or less.
2. There has been no charge filed but a law enforcement officer wants to talk to me.
Should you talk?
No. You should seek the advice of a lawyer first.
3. Should you hire a lawyer before a criminal charge is actually filed?
Yes, if it is certain or likely a charge will be filed. Otherwise, you may want to seek the advice of lawyer and hire one when the charge is actually filed.
4. A criminal charge has been filed and there is a warrant for your arrest. What is the first thing you should do?
Contact a lawyer. The lawyer may be able to have the warrant withdrawn without you being arrested.
5. You have been arrested. Should you talk to a law enforcement officer?
No, not without consulting a lawyer, and or having a lawyer present.
6. After the charge is filed should you talk to other people about the charge?
No. While it is natural to want to talk to family and friends, any statements you make could be used against you.
7. How long does a criminal case take to be completed?
There is no exact time for the completion of a case. Although a judge may set certain deadlines, some cases take years to become final.
8. Is there mandatory jail or prison time for all felonies?
No. While some felonies (alcohol, sexual offenses) have required jail or prison terms, most defendants charged with felonies are eligible for probation.
9. If you are placed on probation can you be released early during your probationary period?
Yes. Misdemeanor probation terms usually are 6 months to two years; felony probation term is usually 5 years. A defendant may apply to the court to be released early from probation during the term. The court has sole authority to terminate,
10. How long does a criminal conviction stay on your record?
For the lifetime of defendant, unless the conviction is expunged, cancelled, or set aside. The following offenses are examples of convictions which may pursuant to statute be expunged by a Missouri court:
- 1st offense for DWI after 10 years from date of conviction if no other arrests or convictions for alcohol related traffic offenses during the 10 years
- Passing bad checks (felony or misdemeanor)
- Fraudulently stopping payment of checks
- Fraudulent use of credit card
- Negligent burning or exploding
- Negligent setting or allowing fire to escape
- Tampering in the second degree
- Property damage in the second degree
- Trespass in the first degree
- Trespass against posted property
- Private peace disturbance
- Drunkenness in church or courthouse
- Peace disturbance