James R. Makin Law Firm


Q.     I have a day in court - any advice?
A.     Be on time. Dress appropriately. No weapons of any sort. Turn off electronic equipment. Speak clearly and loudly.

Q.     I was in jail and the guys in there told me things that were different than what my lawyers told me. What should I do?
A.     Discuss all questions with your attorney and don't believe everything you hear in jail.

Q.     You are seeking employment. You have a pending criminal matter at the time. When you apply for a job, and the application asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime . . . what do you do?
A.     Always tell the truth. In our scenario, you have not been convicted, so your answer would be "no". It is probably a good idea to tell the interviewer about the pending charges though. However, if you are in doubt, ask your attorney.

Q.     My religion prevents me from swearing to an oath. Does this protect me from having to testify at a trial?
A.     No person can be disqualified from giving evidence due to his religious opinions or lack of them. All oaths or affirmations shall be administered in the mode most binding upon the conscience, and shall be taken subject to the pains and penalties of perjury.

Q.     You are charged with a crime. You are going to trial. Do you testify or not?
A.     If you are a defendant, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from self-incrimination; therefore, you don't have to take the stand at your trial and testify, but you can if you want to and if your attorney feels that doing so can help your defense. It is your constitutional right to testify or not to testify. Just make sure to listen to your attorney when making your decision.

Q.     A police officer wants to ask me questions, what are my rights?
A.     You have the right to remain silent (anything you say could be used against you). If you start answering questions you have the right to stop answering at any time. You have the right to consult with an attorney prior to and during the questioning.

Q.     I work for an establishment and have found out that the owner of the business has been committing crimes. Unbeknownst to me, I have taken part in the same activity under his direction. Can I be charged with the same crimes as the owner since I am an employee?
A.     The answer is YES. But, there may be defenses available to you. The best advice would be to consult a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Q.     How long does a criminal case conviction stay on my record?
A.     Basically, FOREVER. While there are limitations for enhancement or impeachment purposes, the general rule is once it's on your record, it's always there to hurt you.

Q.     Is it true that I could be charged with a serious crime if I am in the car with someone that is committing a crime? Even if I don't know the person is or has committed a crime?
A.     The simple answer is YES. And YES . . . If you are in the car, odds are you will be charged.

Q.     Can't my case be dismissed if the police forgot to read me the Miranda Warning?
A.     Contrary to popular belief, when you are arrested for a crime, the police don't have to read you the Miranda Warning unless they intend to interrogate you. The Miranda Warning says that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can be used in a court of law; that you have the right to speak with an attorney and to have your attorney present when you are questioned by the police; and that if you can't afford to pay an attorney, the government will provide one for you. The Miranda Warning helps protect your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. Prior to getting an attorney, don't volunteer any information to the police, and after you have an attorney, always exercise your right to remain silent unless your attorney tells you to do otherwise.

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James R. Makin is a member of the, Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, and an Accredited Member of The Better Business Bureau.