Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions
I just got arrested. What do I do first?
It depends on whether you are still in jail. The first step should always be trying to get released on bond. In Mr. Pham’s experience, clients can always be more helpful when they are available. That is, we have been able to secure far more dismissals and not guilty verdicts when our clients can actually go to the scene with us and describe what happened. A conversation in the jail can work if need be, but the attorney-client relationship works far better when we are able to combat the charges together. If you are already out of jail, the very first thing you should do is speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham. Also, and importantly, never speak to anyone about your case.
Can I be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone?
Unfortunately, yes. There are two types of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence involves eyewitnesses and statements. Circumstantial evidence is the type of evidence where a jury or a judge can draw inferences. For example, if a police officer saw you punch someone in the face and he testified to that, his seeing it happen would be direct evidence. But, if someone was punched in the face and you are the only person with bruised knuckles, then a jury could infer that you are the person who did it. Many, many cases have been proven on circumstantial evidence alone.
I did it. Why do I need an attorney?
For several reasons. There are a number of alternative sentences available that a private citizen would not be able to obtain for themselves. The fact is that prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants who represent themselves. However, experienced defense attorneys can and often to obtain alternative sentences that result in probation or even dismissal of their clients’ cases. Furthermore, even if you did do it, it is our duty to hold the prosecution to their burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Attorneys like Mr. Pham know the rules of evidence and can determine whether the prosecution’s case against you is likely to result in a conviction.
What are the most common defenses used in a criminal trial?
The first is an alibi defense. That is, you could not have committed the crime because you were somewhere else at the time of the offense. The second most common is self-defense in assault cases. This defense is self-explanatory: when someone felt himself being attacked, he fought back. There are very specific legal guidelines as to when and to what degree a person can retaliate or defend themselves. Lesser used and less successful defenses include insanity, entrapment and the statute of limitations. However, Mr. Pham has used each of those defenses and has been successful with each.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham can often make the difference between incarceration, probation and freedom. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, and want an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, contact Houston attorney Michael H. Pham at (713) 236-7791.