Criminal Defense Attorney Helping You Through The Process
At Thompson Law, we understand that being arrested and facing the criminal justice system can be intimidating, especially if you have not been through it before. You have many questions and concerns. Attorney William D. Thompson is an experienced, dedicated criminal defense lawyer who is deeply committed to treating clients with respect and helping them through every step of their defense.
Read the frequently asked questions and answers below, and reach out to an experienced lawyer who provides strong defense against all types of criminal charges.
What should I do if I am arrested or pulled over for a crime?
If you are pulled over or arrested, there are three critical things you should do:
- Cooperate with the police: Do not fight or be overly argumentative with the arresting officer(s).
- Remain silent: Do not tell the police anything. You have a right to remain silent; use that right.
- Call a lawyer: You have a constitutionally protected right to the assistance of legal counsel in criminal proceedings. Tell the police you are remaining silent until you have an attorney present.
With these steps, you will protect your rights in the criminal justice process.
Are the police allowed to search my car or home?
In many cases, yes, but not always. For example, a police officer cannot pull you over for no reason at all and open your trunk. There needs to be reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Talk with an attorney who can help you determine whether your rights were violated.
Can I refuse a breath test or blood test?
Technically, yes. But in the vast majority of cases, it is a bad idea. Refusal will result in the automatic suspension of your license, and you can still be convicted even without the blood, breath or urine test evidence. Call an attorney before you take the test, if possible.
Will I lose my license for DUI?
This depends on a couple of factors. Most importantly, it depends on whether you’ve been convicted of DUI in the past and the degree to which you were intoxicated.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses a three-tier system to classify the degree of impairment.
For first offense, general impairment (the lowest level of intoxication, between .08 and .10 blood alcohol content), there is no mandatory license suspension, but it is not out of the question. For the higher levels of intoxication, there is a 12-month mandatory minimum license suspension.
These numbers can increase with multiple DUI convictions, and it is important to remember that these are “mandatory minimum” sentences. The judge will have discretion to increase that penalty if the facts surrounding the case merit this decision.
Will I have to go to court?
While many cases end up with a plea bargain that can help avoid the trial process, you will almost certainly have to show up for a hearing. We will help you through the process and explain everything happening, so you will be prepared.
Will I go to jail?
This depends. Similar to the suspension of driving privileges, jail time depends on numerous factors. For first offenses of general intoxication, the minimum mandatory sentence is six months of probation, but there is a minimum of 48 hours to six months in jail for higher intoxication.
With a good lawyer defending you, it might be possible to get your charges dismissed or to find another way to avoid jail time.
What if I hurt or killed someone while driving under the influence?
Of course, in cases of DUI that results in manslaughter or DUI resulting in serious injury to another, the penalties will be much higher and the judge is much less likely to be merciful.
These are cases that require particularly strong defense.
Should I go with the public defender?
While most public defenders are skilled, conscientious lawyers, the system is such that they are simply too overburdened with cases to give your case any unique attention or care.
A private lawyer will be able to dig deeper into the record of your arrest and other details to find ways to get your case thrown out or at least to minimize the penalties you will receive.