The Most Frequent Questions From Criminal Defendants

If you have been charged with a crime, it's natural to feel angry, humiliated and scared. It's natural to have questions. It's also important to get answers — quickly.

I am attorney Matthew Maddox of The Maddox Law Firm, and I believe that everyone has the right to a passionate, aggressive defense of their rights. I have a tremendous amount of empathy for my clients, who are often caught up in a system that they do not understand — a system that is stacked against them.

For answers to specific questions about your case, please call my office in McKinney, Texas, at 972-546-2496, or contact the office online to schedule an appointment. For the answers to several of the most common questions I hear from defendants, please read below.

Q: When do the police have to advise me of my rights?

A: The police only have to issue a "Miranda" warning if you are both formally in custody and are being interrogated. It is crucial to understand these two points because the police can use anything you say against you — even before you have heard your rights — as long as these two conditions are not in place.

Q: Is it okay to talk to the police if I am innocent of the charges?

A: No. The best rule to follow when interacting with police is to remain silent until you have consulted with an experienced defense lawyer. Innocent people end up convicted all the time because of nervous mistakes they make when answering police questions. Something you say can be taken out of context. Something you forget to say can be seen as an evasion of the truth. Do not take chances with your future.

Q: What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

A: A misdemeanor is usually defined as a crime that is punishable by no more than a year in jail. Any crime that is punishable by a year or longer in prison is usually a felony. Generally speaking, there are many levels of both misdemeanor and felony charges and a broad array of possible punishments meant to fit the crime.

Q: Is it possible to defend against a drunk driving charge if I fail the breathalyzer test?

A: Absolutely. Breathalyzer tests are notoriously inaccurate and can be affected by everything from the way the machine was calibrated to whether or not you have recently taken some cold medicine. In addition, it is often possible to attack the basis, or "probable cause," of the traffic stop in the first place. No case is utterly hopeless.