If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you’re probably confused or worried about what steps to take next, and you probably have a lot of questions on your mind like:
- Will you go to jail for a long time?
- Will you have to perform community service?
- What happens if I don’t show up in court?
- What if I can’t afford a lawyer and have to take a public defender?
- Will I have a permanent record, or can I get it expunged later?
- Do I really need a lawyer or can I just show up in court on my own?
- Can I appeal if I lose?
- How do I choose a lawyer?
If you or someone you care about has these concerns after an arrest for a crime, then please keep reading this Special Report. My name is David Stoddard. I’m a lawyer and I’ve been helping clients in the upstate who have been accused of crimes for over eight years. Prior to this, I was a criminal prosecutor for another eight years.
I focus on the challenges faced by my clients who end up with criminal charges. It’s unfortunate, but many people these days end up with a criminal conviction on their permanent records when they don’t have to. These criminal convictions also cost them thousands of dollars in fines and sometimes time in jail.
Not Everyone Accused is Guilty
Not everyone accused of a crime is guilty. The truth is that prior to the trial of the century, the O.J. Simpson trial, most people assumed that O.J. was guilty. O.J. Simpson’s lawyers made it their quest to show that O.J. was innocent, even as the prosecution was throwing everything they had at O.J., like DNA tests, so called "eye witnesses," Mark Furman, the "bloody glove," and O.J.’s house guest, Kato. Even in the face of all of this incriminating evidence, O.J. was found not guilty. Inside this report I am going to outline some of the key points that anyone who is accused of a crime should know. Unfortunately, I see why too many people are misinformed about the court system that end up being convicted when they could have been found innocent, going to jail when they don’t need too, and serving excessive sentences when they could have received a reduced sentence.
That’s why I have written this report and offer it free to everyone. In most cases, there are key steps that should be taken to protect your rights. Each case is different and the specific steps that should be taken in your case depend on the facts of that case. However, you do need legal counsel to help you through these steps. These days, knowledge is power, and having the right kind of knowledge is your best defense! Especially now as local law enforcement gets even more zealous to increase government revenues and crack down on crime. Sometimes in this atmosphere, even unsuspecting innocent people get arrested and charged with a crime for no reason.
Let me share a couple real of life examples with you of how I helped clients get their lives back after being charged with a crimes and give you some critical facts that you need to be aware of to ensure that you don’t get taken for a ride when you show up in court.
An Example Criminal Case: Frank
Names are changed to protect the identities of my clients.
Take for example Frank, one of my clients. Frank and Tim were partners in a tree harvesting business. They would clear a parcel of land, and pay the landowner so much for the timber after they sold it. Unfortunately, they fell on hard times. Their truck broke down and they had to use some of their profits to buy a new truck. Then, Tim was arrested for failure to pay child support. Frank could not finish the jobs with Tim in jail. Frank could not pay one of the landowners for the trees they had already harvested. The Forestry Commission arrested them and charged them with Breach of Trust.
Tim had the Public Defender. The Public Defender let Frank and I know that he had a deal to plead Tim guilty and receive probation. My client, Frank, was anxious to make a similar deal. However, I knew from my years as a prosecutor that this was a mere breach of contract case, and that the prosecutor could not make out the elements of the criminal charge. I advised Frank to hang in there, that I believed I could get the case thrown out. I explained my analysis to the public defender, who had thought probation was a good deal. The Public Defender joined in my motion to have the case thrown out. We filed our motion, I wrote a memorandum of law to the court explaining our position, and after a hearing, the court dismissed the case. Frank did not have to serve probation, nor did he have the stigma of a criminal record.
Criminal Domestic Violence: Jim
One night, Jim and his wife had been at a bar and had a few drinks. On the way home, they got into an altercation, and Jim pulled the car over. Jim’s wife jumped out of the car and flagged down a police officer, who arrested Jim for Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV). When Jim came to me, he explained that he had several prior arrests for CDV, but that he was innocent of them all, including this one. Given his track record, even I had my doubts. Jim also explained that if he were convicted of this one, he would lose his career.
Jim explained that on each previous occasion that he was arrested, his wife actually attacked him, then she called the police, and each time he got arrested. What made things especially bad in this latest case was that the police report indicated that the officer actually witnessed part of the altercation, and stated that he saw Jim's arm outstretched toward his wife as if he were hitting or pushing her.
Jim explained to me that his wife began hitting him as he drove, and that he held his arm out to keep her off of him. He explained to me that this was his second marriage. I interviewed his first wife, and she told me that Jim was very mild mannered and that she had never witnessed a temper. She also told me that she had observed Jim’s current wife lose her temper to the point of being violent.
We went to trial. I cross examined the officer and got him to admit that he had not seen the beginning of the altercation, and that what he saw was not inconsistent with Jim holding his arm out to keep his wife off of him. Jim’s ex-wife testified that she knew Jim to be honest and to be a peaceful, non-violent man. She also testified that she new his current wife to have a violent temper, and further stated that she did not think the wife was honest. The jury found Jim not guilty.
Criminal Drug Case: Charlie
Charlie was arrested for selling crack cocaine. Charlie told me that he has never sold drugs. The police had sent an informant, wearing a wire, into a house to buy drugs, and the informant told the police that he bought from Charlie. The whole thing was on tape. Or was it? I got a copy of the tape through discovery procedures and listened. There was talk of business on the tape, and even some reference to money. When Charlie and I listened to the tape, Charlie did confirm that it was his voice on the tape. However, he didn’t remember the conversation. It was not clear what was being discussed on the tape. At the preliminary hearing, I got the officer to admit that he gave the informant money to buy drugs and that the informant drove off out of sight, and was gone about an hour before returning with the drugs. This was a scenario I had often seen as a prosecutor. The problem was, the tape was ambiguous. While it might have been a drug deal, it could have been something else. The other problem was, the informant was out of police surveillance too long. Good police practice is to search the informant to make sure he has no drugs (which they did do), give him marked money (which they did do), watch him go in the house, watch him come out, and retrieve the drugs from him. The informant is out of sight only while he is in the house. In Charlie’s case, the informant was out of police sight and control too long. He could have stashed drugs somewhere prior to meeting with the police, retrieved them while he was out of sight, then had a conversation with Charlie that the informant purposely made sound like a drug deal. Or the informant could have bought from one of his regular suppliers, and then approached Charlie to get him on tape, thereby setting him up and keeping his supplier protected.
I explained all of this to the prosecutor and let him know that I was prepared to go to trial and that there was surely reasonable doubt. We didn’t have to go to trial. The prosecutor agreed that this was a case that he’d rather not try.
Please Note: Each case depends on the facts of that particular case. The results described above cannot be guaranteed in each case. Actual results depend on the facts of the case.
Now, I didn’t work any miracle on these cases. I just did my job as a lawyer. I worked hard for my client. I investigated the cases, analyzed the police reports for weaknesses, interviewed witnesses, and hired experts when necessary. I used my knowledge of criminal law from my years of experience, both as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, to help these clients.
The tragedy in all this is there are many people out there like Frank, Jim and Charlie who don’t fully understand their rights and who get run over by the criminal justice system. Each year, thousands get unfairly charged with crimes, and that is one of the reasons that I am dedicated to fully informing and educating my clients to the steps that are necessary to protect their rights.
A Good Criminal Attorney Makes All the Difference
The most important "inside secret" I know is not really a secret at all. If you face a criminal charge, you need representation from a competent criminal law attorney. Without this, you are at the mercy of the prosecutor and the court, neither of whom are your friend and neither of whom has your best interest in mind.
Even though the court is interested in justice, the court is not your friend, but is impartial. With a trained prosecutor working against you, there is little chance that the impartial court will be able to fairly hear your side of the case unless you have an advocate working for you.
Here’s What I Can Offer You
If this report makes sense to you, perhaps it reflects that I do know a little bit about criminal law and the criminal justice system. I have practiced law since 1985. I practiced from 1986 – 1994 (eight years) as a prosecutor for the tenth judicial circuit. Since 1994 I have practiced trial law including criminal defense. I offer a free, one hour consultation to discuss any question that you may have about criminal law, or about your criminal case (be sure to tell my receptionist that you read this free Criminal Report as I do not normally allow free consultations for an entire hour.
Please call my office and make an appointment while this report is still fresh on your mind. I will set aside an hour to meet with you at no cost or obligation. Hopefully, this consultation will allow you to protect your rights and perhaps give you peace of mind.
We can go over the facts of your case and discuss the merits of the case against you. We can discuss possible ways to discover exculpatory evidence (that is, evidence of innocence). We can discuss the range of sentences the charge carries (that is the harshest and least possible sentence if convicted). I will discuss and explain my fees for representation should you choose to retain me. Of course I will answer any other questions that you might have. Hopefully, at the very least, you will learn what to expect in the weeks and months to come and you will leave my office more knowledgeable and confident about the future.
Here’s My Guarantee To You
I will invest my time, resources, and abilities into your case. I will give you an honest, straightforward analysis of your case and honestly discuss your options. Should you retain me, I will do everything within my power and ability to protect and deliver you from jeopardy.
The Worst Thing You Can Do
Is What too Many People Do – Delay or Do nothing at All!
Way too many people have told me that they wish they had obtained competent representation. I have talked to many who pled guilty or went to trial without an attorney who could have helped. I have been hired by family members to file appeals where they indicated that they were dissatisfied with the trial attorney who handled the case. I explain to them that I may not have been able to do anything different or better but I often wonder if I could have done something, based on my experience that the trial attorney missed.