The criminal justice system can be extremely complex and confusing to the inexperienced. At RAAB | MAHONEY, one of our goals to to insure our clients understand not only what is occurring but why. We have compiled a number of subject areas in which individuals most commonly seek information. We encourage you to review each area, keeping in mind each case presents unique and varied circumstances. In the information below, RAAB | MAHONEY does not provide legal advice and creates no attorney-client relationship. If you or someone you know needs immediate legal information or advice, please contact RAAB | MAHONEY immediately.

Attorney Fees

An attorney’s fees are generally based on an attorney’s experience, the nature of the attorney’s representation, the severity and complexity of a case, and the amount of time necessary for effective representation. In the majority of state and federal criminal cases, an attorney’s fee will be a “flat fee” based not on the number of hours spent in representation, but set at a fixed amount for certain stages of the criminal process. Attorney’s fees are subject to negotiation, and written retainer agreements are required for most fees exceeding $1,000.00.
 
At RAAB | MAHONEY, we offer free initial consultations, explain our fees in detail, and comply with all State Bar rules and regulations regarding written retainer agreements. We make every effort to make our services affordable to our clients, with an understanding that we are not able to accept every client who may wish to retain us. We also offer payment plans to many clients who are unable to pay their entire fee in advance.

Retaining or Changing Attorneys

The right to counsel is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This right also guarantees that if an accused cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be provided for him or her. For those that can afford to do so, an individual may select and retain the attorney of their choosing, and may retain new and different counsel while their case is pending so long as that decision is for appropriate reasons, and not to create unnecessary delay.
 
We at RAAB | MAHONEY are happy to schedule a consultation whether you are unrepresented or considering changing attorneys. We will provide you with an honest and fair assessment of your case, and when we can, our suggestions for how the case should be handled.

Criminal Court Process

Whether you or someone you know has been charged with a state or federal offense, or is currently under investigation, it is important to have an understanding of the criminal court process in order to better make appropriate decisions. At RAAB | MAHONEY, we have former prosecution and lengthy, successful defense experience to help our clients navigate the complex criminal justice system in both state and federal courts. We also work to educate our clients about the criminal court process so that each client has an understanding and awareness of the charges they face, possible penalties, and appropriate strategy decisions involved.

Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions

A felony is any crime punishable with a custody sentence of a year or more, generally in prison. A misdemeanor is a crime punishable with no more than a year in custody. An infraction carries only a monetary fine. Many crimes can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. These offenses are commonly referred to as “wobblers.” An accused has a right to a jury trial for felonies and misdemeanors, but only a court trial for infractions.

Arrest

Legally, an arrest arises when an individual is deprived of their freedom in any significant way. Commonly, an arrest occurs when someone is placed in hand-cuffs, but an actual arrest may occur in a wide variety of ways. Many times, an arrested individual is interrogated, asked for consent to search his or her home or vehicle, and subject to aggressive law enforcement tactics. Under most circumstances, a person subject to arrest has the right to an attorney.
 
If you or someone you know has been arrested, it is important to immediately exercise your right to counsel. Contact RAAB | MAHONEY immediately to schedule a consultation or arrange for an immediate jail visit.

Bail

For those arrested for state criminal offenses, the amount of bail generally will be set by the law enforcement agency based on a Bail Schedule adopted by most counties. Unless a parole, immigration, or other “hold” is placed preventing bail, an arrested person may post bail immediately, usually by contacting a licensed bail agent, who will charge between 8% to 10% of the bail amount. For those who are unable to afford bail, an opportunity to seek a reduced bail amount exists at a bail hearing when the arrested appears in court for an arraignment, usually within 2 business days. Reasonable bail is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights under the Eights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
 
For those arrested for a federal offense, bail is generally addressed at the initial appearance on either a criminal complaint or indictment, often the same day as the arrest or the following day. At the initial hearing, a defendant may ask the court for a reasonable bail, based on a number of factors, including criminal history, the nature of the offense, community ties, danger to the community, and the likelihood the defendant will return to court if ordered to do so. These factors, outlined in the Bail Reform Act of 1984, are similar to those considered by the court in setting bail for state offenses as well.
 
Many federal offenses carry a presumption that a defendant be detained without bail pending resolution of their case. The presumption of detention without bail may be overcome with a proper showing in court that the factors supporting bail outlined in the Bail Reform Act of 1984 outweigh detention. A presumption of detention can still result in an order for a reasonable bond. An order for bond in federal court man also be accompanied by pre-trial supervision, which can include home detention, electronic monitoring, GPS tracking, and regular anti-narcotic tests.
 
At RAAB | MAHONEY, we work with state and federal bail companies to ensure bond is promptly posted for those arrestees eligible for immediate bond. We also are successful in securing court orders for affordable bonds with reasonable conditions. Often, securing a reasonable bond guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is necessary for a defendant to effectively assist his or her attorney fight their case. We at RAAB | MAHONEY work tirelessly to secure our clients’ constitutional right to a reasonable bond.

Arraignment and Initial Appearance

At the initial hearing, often referred to as an arraignment, an individual charged with a state or federal offense will have the opportunity to learn the charges against them and enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or under some circumstances, a nolo contendere plea, commonly referred to as a no contest plea. Often, all or a portion of the law enforcement reports will be available for the first time. When appropriate, bail can be addressed at the initial appearance.
 
At the arraignment or initial appearance, a defendant’s right to a speedy trial guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution arises. The right to a speedy trial is codified under the federal Speedy Trial Act and state statutes, each of which varies to some degree. Frequently, a defendant’s right to a speedy trial is waived in order to permit additional investigation, preparation, witness availability, or where a case is designated as legally complex. The decision whether to postpone a trial involves the consideration of a variety of factors unique to each case.
 
The most common plea entered at an arraignment or initial appearance is a not guilty plea. After entering the not guilty plea, the case is generally scheduled for a preliminary hearing. If the prosecution elects to proceed with presentation of the case to grand jury, the case may also be scheduled for a post-indictment arraignment.

Preliminary Hearing and Indictment

In any state or federal court in which the defendant is charged with a felony offense, the next significant stage in the criminal process is a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is an evidentiary proceeding in which the prosecution must present witnesses in order to demonstrate to a judge or magistrate that sufficient evidence exists for the case to proceed to trial. The defendant possesses many of the same constitutional rights as at trial, such the opportunity to cross examine witnesses and, where appropriate, present a defense. If the judge or magistrate finds sufficient evidence to demonstrate reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed, the judge will order the defendant “held to answer” for the charge and schedule a hearing in the trial court.
 
Instead of a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor may chose to seek an indictment by presenting the facts of the case to a Grand Jury. Grand Jury proceedings, which are more common in federal court, are secret proceedings in which an accused has no right to be present nor the right to cross examine witnesses against him. If the Grand Jury finds sufficient evidence, an Indictment will issue.
 
Under a wide variety of statutes and the U.S. Constitution, the findings of a judge or magistrate at a preliminary hearing, and the findings of a Grand Jury can be successfully challenged in court. A successful motion attacking the findings at a preliminary hearing or Grand Jury proceedings can result in the dismissal of all or some of the charges against an accused.
 
At RAAB | MAHONEY , we are well versed in all aspects of preliminary hearing and grand jury proceedings, and have been successfully obtaining the dismissal of some or all of the charges against our clients by attacking either the evidence presented or the manner in which evidence was presented.

Pre-Trial Hearings

A pre-trial hearing in state or federal cases, for misdemeanors and felonies, is an opportunity for the defense, prosecution, and court to communicate regarding the status of the case, possible motions, plea negotiations, and discussions. The majority of criminal cases are resolved at a pre-trial hearing. The term pre-trial hearing refers to most court appearances, motion hearings, formal plea negotiations, as well as any other proceedings in which the parties are ordered to appear in court.

Trial

One of the most fundamental and import rights contained in the United States Constitution is the Sixth Amendment’s right to trial. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, contained in the Bill of Rights, states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for the obtaining of witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
 
Trial can be a complex and lengthy process, involving a wide variety of practical and strategic decisions. Whether a case should proceed to trial is often a difficult decision which requires an accused to weigh all the possible risks and benefits, including the strength of the government’s case, credibility of witnesses, and possible sentences. Often, entering into a plea bargain can result in a more advantageous result, while avoiding significant risk and harsher penalty.
 
Jury trials involve the process of jury selection, opening statements, the presentation of evidence, closing arguments, and jury deliberations. If the jury is able to unanimously agree on a verdict of guilty, sentencing follows. If the jury is deadlocked and cannot reach a unanimous decision, the court will declare a mistrial and usually schedule a new trial date. Upon a unanimous non-guilty verdict, a defendant is discharged from the case, which may not be re-tried.
 
Michael Raab and Patrick Mahoney formed RAAB | MAHONEY in order to zealously, effectively, and successfully assist their clients navigate the complex, risky, and frequently dangerous process of trial and plea negotiations.

Plea Bargaining

The vast majority of criminal cases end with a guilty plea rather than a trial, with more than 9 in 10 cases involving plea agreements. As a result, a criminal defense attorney must be well versed in the facts of each case, the possible consequences of a conviction, and in estimating possible outcomes if a case proceeds to trial. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that effective plea negotiations at the pre-trial stage of a criminal case is a right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
 
Often, plea negotiations can lead to the reduction or dismissal or more serious charges, the avoidance of mandatory minimum prison sentences, as well as the requirement of sex offender registration. Plea negotiations require not only a knowledge of the law and facts surrounding each case, but a solid reputation for integrity and sound relationship with prosecutors.
 
We at RAAB | MAHONEY have extensive experience in state and federal court successfully securing favorable and lenient plea agreements for our clients. We encourage you to study our case results, as the successful outcomes for our clients speak for themselves.

Appeal and Post Conviction Proceedings

State and federal defendants convicted after trial are guaranteed the right to appeal their convictions and sentences to either the state courts of appeal or a federal circuit court of appeals. Under some circumstances, a defendant may appeal the ruling of a court prior to trial or conviction in a proceeding that is called an interlocutory appeal.


Appeals may be based on a wide variety of factors, such as legal errors by the court, mistakes made by either the prosecutor or defense attorney, or misconduct by jurors. An appeal is not a new trial, but a review to determine if any errors occurred in the trial court, and an examination of whether any errors require correction with a new trial or modification of the judgment.
 
An appeal following trial is commenced by filing a notice of appeal in the trial court where the conviction occurred. Generally, specific rules, which can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, require a notice of appeal to be filed within a specific time following the conviction, and in a specific manner. Often, a defendant filing a notice of appeal will designate an appellate attorney and the issues to be raised on appeal. Once a notice of appeal has been filed properly and timely, the trial court and court reporter will prepare transcripts of all the court proceedings, which will be sent to the attorney for the appellant, government, and appellate court, which will then designate a schedule for when appellate briefs shall be presented. Once all the briefs have been filed, the appeal will be set for oral argument, if necessary. Ultimately, the appellate court will render a decision, which can take many forms.
 
Unsuccessful appeals and negative appeal rulings may be challenged through petitions for re-hearing, appeals to higher courts, or through a variety of writs. Unlike a first appeal, however, a defendant does not possess the same right to a hearing in each of these proceedings. Appeals, and the challenge to unwanted appellate rulings are lengthy proceedings, requiring significant time and preparation. Some require additional investigation into newly discovered evidence or government misconduct.

Statements to Law Enforcement

In the United States, an accused has the right to remain silent, and cannot be compelled to make statements that might incriminate them. Under many circumstances, an accused may have a right to the assistance of counsel during questioning. This means that an individual under investigation or prosecution is under no obligation to make any statement to law enforcement officers, and their refusal to do so may not be used as evidence against them.
 
Generally, we at RAAB | MAHONEY believe it is unwise to speak with a law enforcement officer conducting an investigation in which a person may be a suspect, target, or person of interest. Often, such an individual may have limited knowledge of the length and depth of any law enforcement investigation or the nature and extent of evidence which may have been gathered.
 
A person under arrest and subject to custodial interrogation must be provided Miranda Warnings in order for any statement made to be admissible in court. A failure of law enforcement officers to give the warnings, which are usually read from a pre-printed card, will not result in dismissal of any criminal charges, but will prevent a prosecutor from presenting any evidence of statements made to a jury. Although the United States Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording law enforcement agents must use, the Court did create a set of guidelines: “…The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him.”
 
Before speaking with a law enforcement officer, we at RAAB | MAHONEY encourage our clients to consult with us to determine whether making a statement is beneficial. A mistake in the decision whether to make a statement to law enforcement officers can have disastrous consequences. A wise and fully informed decision can prevent criminal charges, or can lessen possible penalties for crimes already committed.

Consent to Search

Generally, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that, with a variety of specialized exceptions, law enforcement officers are required to obtain a search warrant or a person’s consent before they may conduct a search. An individual is under no obligation to provide consent. Yet, many people mistakenly provide law enforcement officers with consent to search, believing wrongly they are required to do so. Often, such mistakes can have disastrous consequences, leading the the discovery of damaging evidence or contraband.
 
At RAAB | MAHONEY, we commonly advise our clients to politely refuse to consent to a search, and to simply comply if law enforcement agents possess a valid warrant. Refusing to consent to a search often protects an individual from prosecution or results in the dismissal of charges based on evidence obtained unlawfully without consent or a warrant.

Criminal Records

Often, an individual convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony can take steps to “clean” up their criminal history with a petition to set aside a conviction (commonly referred to as an expungement) and through a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. Many times, successful efforts to set aside, reduce, and clear criminal records will permit people to re-locate, change employment, remain in the United States, or avoid registration as sexual offender. These steps are not always available, and may not always accomplish an individual’s goals. A thorough understanding of what avenues are available to “clean up” a criminal records, and the actual consequences are necessary.
 
At RAAB | MAHONEY, we have successfully helped countless clients clear their criminal records and move forward to productive lives in their communities.

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on these or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communication should be construed as legal advice for any individual, case, or situation. The information contained on this website is not intended to create, and receipt and/or viewing of this information, does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship.