Criminal Legal FAQ

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I've been arrested! What should I do?
Most people charged with a DUI, a misdemeanor drug charge, or a felony crime in Nevada have never been in legal trouble before. Many are surprised to learn that the procedures they've watched law enforcement and prosecutors go through on television are not at all what occurs in real life. The truth is, being arrested is a confusing, frightening experience. It is easy to say or do something that will only hurt your case. This is why it is critical to retain an experienced attorney to advise you of your rights and options as soon as possible.

Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC is one of the Las Vegas region’s pre-eminent criminal defense law firms. We speak with people every day who have found themselves facing criminal charges. Many are from out of state and don’t understand our criminal court procedures or where to turn for help.

Here are some basic steps to follow in the event you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Nevada:

  • Pay attention to your Miranda rights: When law enforcement says that anything you say or do can be used against you as evidence in court, they are serious. There is only one good way to avoid saying anything harmful: Say nothing at all until you have legal representation advising you of your rights and protecting you from officers and prosecutors twisting your words and using them against you.
  • Tell your lawyer the truth: Don’t lie while explaining your side of the story. The truth will come out at some point. Be honest with your defense attorney about the events that led to your arrest. You have nothing to fear by telling your lawyer the whole truth. Nothing you say to your attorney is admissible as evidence against you. Everything you tell your lawyer is privileged and cannot be repeated. Your attorney will advise you about offering details that may be used against you.
  • Don’t let your fears get the best of you: It is easy to get worried about spending years in jail. This is exactly what the prosecutor wants you to think. Even if you know you made a bad mistake, it doesn’t make you a hardened criminal. Yes, penalties can be serious, but Nevada law, and in particular the various specialty court programs in Clark County, offers many diversion options to help first-time offenders avoid a conviction and jail time. It’s often more than a slap on the wrist, but your future won’t be destroyed. We work hard with prosecutors to find alternative penalties that make sense for you and your family and will keep you out of jail.
  • Make sure you understand the charges: Prosecutors and court clerks speak a language of their own. You have the right to understand exactly what charge you are receiving. Before you leave the station or courthouse, you need to know what will happen next. If your court papers include abbreviations or legal language that doesn’t make sense to you, we will help you understand everything. In fact, we insist that you understand the process and the particulars of your case. By being aware of these issues, you are then in the best possible position to assist us as your lawyers.
  • Don’t worry your family needlessly: You will have the opportunity to discuss your circumstances with your spouse and other family members. Don’t jump into the deep end with talk about the worst possible scenario. Telling your spouse that you are facing 10 years in prison isn’t going to help anyone. The truth is, you don’t know what the outcome will be until all procedures and strategies have played out. Tell your family you have a good, experienced lawyer on your side, and you will keep everyone up to date throughout the process. As your attorney, we will be happy to explain the situation to your spouse or other family members, to make sure they completely understand the situation.
  • Listen to your lawyer’s advice: We will aggressively assist you through the process. Rest assured that we e will fight aggressively to challenge the prosecutor’s case and seek a dismissal of charges, if possible. At various points during the legal defense process, you will have decisions to make. We offer intelligent, knowledgeable legal advice, based upon years of experience successfully handling thousands of cases, many just like yours. You will always have the final decision in those legal matters attributable to the client, but it is always a good idea to trust your lawyers’ experience and recommendations.

What penalty am I looking at receiving?
Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC has earned a reputation for providing effective, intelligent criminal defense services for individuals charged with DUI, misdemeanors, and felony offenses in municipal, state, and federal courts throughout the Las Vegas region. When we meet with a person by phone or in person following their arrest, the first thing we are often asked about is about the possible penalties. Although there is no hard-and-fast answer to a question about jail time, fines, or other penalties, there are often guidelines in place that give judges some leeway and compassion in their decisions.

The only way to answer the question about penalties and jail sentences is to remind you that there is always a good defense that should focus on avoiding a conviction. Even if the evidence against you stacks up, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are guilty of a criminal charge. Prosecutors and courts know that people make mistakes. Many prosecutors and judges recognize that throwing someone in jail is not a productive way f to address and correct errors in judgment. . Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC have earned the respect of prosecutors throughout the region. We work hard to find a solution that will help you avoid a conviction and jail time. If you, after considering the issues in your case believe it best to accept a plea agreement, there are often alternative penalties to jail time, including probation, a fine, restitution to victims, and education and rehabilitation programs that may be utilized to your advantage.

If you find yourself anxiously obsessing about the possible penalties associated with your case, worrying won’t help. Speak with an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at our firm for straight answers. Whether you have already been charged, or are under investigation for a crime in Nevada, get straight answers from an experienced, respected criminal defense attorney at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC. We know who to win cases and have the results to prove it. From our offices in Las Vegas, we represent clients residing in Nevada, or visiting the state from across the nation and around the world. We can help with your case.

Why is it important to choose a trial attorney?
One of the only things most prosecutors are afraid of is losing a case in front of a jury. Some prosecutors routinely overcharge defendants in hopes of forcing a plea agreement — all to avoid the risk of trial. When you are charged with a crime, your choice of attorney is important. Particularly, you should consider the impact of being represented by someone who is known to be a tough advocate who is always prepared to take a case to trial, if necessary, to protect a client’s rights and freedom.

The moment you are represented by a trial lawyer with a reputation for tenacity, the prosecutor knows the risk of taking your case to trial just went up. You may find the prosecutor is more likely to offer a better deal. You may find that bogus charges are dropped. You may find that overly serious charges are reduced. All because you have an experienced, aggressive trial lawyer on your side. We know that time is of the essence when hiring a defense lawyer. You don’t have the luxury to do as much research or compare as many law firms as you might like. Here are some questions that may help you rapidly identify whether or not an attorney has the right skills and experience for you:

  • How many cases have you taken to trial?
  • How many acquittals have you achieved at trial?
  • Have you represented clients at trial who were charged with serious state felony or federal crimes?

At Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC, we are trial lawyers. We have proven skill, experience, and a record of results fighting for our clients at trial. This means we will not encourage you to accept a plea agreement unless it is truly in your best interests. This means we will absolutely take your defense to the highest level. When your future is on the line, you need tough, experienced, and aggressive representation. This is what you will find at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC.

I was arrested in Las Vegas but I live out of state. Can you help me?
Las Vegas is a vacation destination for millions of people from around the world every year. Our law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, however, don’t make a distinction between Nevada residents and visitors when it comes to making arrests and pursuing criminal charges. If you have been arrested for a criminal offense while visiting Las Vegas, Laughlin, or another community in Las Vegas, you need experienced, local representation. Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC is recognized as one of the region’s pre-eminent criminal defense law firms, successfully representing hundreds of individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses in municipal, state, and federal courts every year.

As a non-resident charged with a crime in Nevada, it may feel as if you are at a disadvantage. What happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay in Vegas. It is frightening to know that you need to return to your home state for your job and family, but you are under the control of the local law enforcement and prosecutor. For most offenses, we can help you secure your release. For offenses such as DUI and misdemeanors, we can often handle the entire defense proceedings without the requirement that you appear in local court.

No matter where you live, we handle your case aggressively; always determined to protect your rights and help you receive a favorable outcome for your charges. We pursue every strategy to challenge the prosecutor’s case. Most importantly, we keep you fully informed of court procedures and decisions. You are assured of aggressive, intelligent representation, and you remain in control of your decisions about taking a plea or going to trial. We know you don’t need a mistake or indiscretion to land you in jail and ruin your future. In many cases, local prosecutors offer diversion programs that can help you avoid a conviction and time in jail, upon successful completion. We work with the prosecutor to find options that can include probation, restitution, fines, and education programs. When you meet the requirements and stay out of further legal trouble, you may have your record cleared.

How can I get my records sealed?
Having a criminal record can be a life-long burden. Your employment opportunities may be limited. Depending upon the nature of the crime for which you were convicted — or to which you pled guilty — you may find many of your rights and freedoms to be curtailed. At Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC, we help people seal or clear their criminal records.

Records sealing is a process by which a prior arrest and conviction is removed from your record. Another alternative is what is sometimes referred to as a petition for nondisclosure. If successful, such a petition should ensure that a prior arrest or conviction does not show up on a standard background check.

Are You Eligible for Expungement?
Records sealing is not available in all cases. In our experience, the best results often come when future eligibility for expungement is part of the initial criminal defense strategy. Even if records sealing was not considered early on, you may still be able to effectively clear your record. An experienced defense lawyer at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC can help.

When you come into our Las Vegas offices for an initial consultation, we will explain your rights and options in detail. We will lay out the course of action that is most likely to produce results, and will provide you with a reliable estimate of the cost of clearing or sealing your record. If it is not possible to seal your records, we will tell you honestly. It is our job to advocate for your right to a second chance. Let us help you today.

What does my "right to remain silent" guarantee?
When law enforcement reads the Miranda Warning to a suspect upon arrest, one of the most important points is the right to remain silent. It isn’t just your constitutional right. It is the best legal advice you can follow. Despite reading you your rights, law enforcement and prosecutors count on fear and intimidation to get critical statements and even outright admissions of guilt from suspects. When officers say that anything you say may be used against you as evidence in the prosecution of your case, they mean anything. Even innocent answers to their questions may be part of a broader investigation of which you aren’t aware. It is their job to connect the dots and your statements, no matter how innocent or harmless they seem, may be twisted and turned to help them build their case against you.

It may not seem like it at the station, but it is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has a strong burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. The station is not a court of law. You are under no legal mandate to say anything to the investigators or the prosecutors. Even if it seems as if answering questions may be in your best interests, exercise your right to have an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney present. Get sound legal advice about how much to say, or whether to say anything at all. After an arrest, protect your rights. Hire an experienced criminal defense advocate with the proven skill, knowledge, and experience to fight vigorously for the most favorable outcome, including the experience to win your acquittal in front of a jury trial, if necessary.

What are the search and seizure laws in Nevada?
When law enforcement makes an arrest, particularly for illegal possession or sale of narcotics, they are under strict Fourth Amendment restrictions to obey the law regarding illegal search and seizure of the suspect’s home, car, and other property. Under federal and state law, the circumstances at the scene of the arrest must demonstrate that the officer has probable cause for suspecting that the property contains evidence of the specific crime.

There are instances when officers have the right to search property and seize evidence they believe is connected to the criminal offense. Such circumstances might include:

  • You agree to the search of your property, when properly informed and asked
  • The law enforcement officer searches your property in direct connection to the arrest being made
  • The law enforcement officer can prove that the search and seizure was necessary to protect the public
  • The search is necessary to prevent the destruction of evidence
  • When the officers are in hot pursuit of a suspect fleeing arrest

What is privacy as it pertains to legal search and seizure?
You have the reasonable right to expect protection and privacy from government intrusion into your personal and private property. However, the expectation of privacy must also meet a litmus test deemed ‘reasonable’ to society. For example, if law enforcement is searching the trunk of your car, according to a properly executed search warrant, but find visible evidence of illegal narcotics elsewhere in your garage, the courts would deem it reasonable to confiscate the drugs as further evidence in the case.

Because state and federal laws leave so much room for interpretation, officers often over-reach their authority when searching property and seizing evidence. When a valid argument can be made that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, all or part of the evidence relating to the illegal search and seizure can be disqualified (suppressed), in the event your case proceeds to trial. If the suppressed evidence is critical to the prosecutor’s case against you, it may lead to a dismissal of charges or reduced charges. Filing a successful motion to dismiss illegal evidence is often the critical point that a successful defense hinges on, no matter how badly the initial body of evidence stacks up against you.

Understanding search and seizure laws, and successfully investigating and filing motions to suppress illegal evidence requires years of experience and in-depth knowledge of prior case law and how particular judges have ruled in the past.

What does it mean if I'm charged as a habitual criminal?
Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, a person charged with a state offense may be designated and charged as a habitual criminal if the following circumstances apply:

  • Two prior felony convictions in Nevada or any other state: The suspect may be charged with a minimum of a Class B felony and will face a minimum mandatory sentence of five years.
  • Three prior felony convictions: Charged with a minimum of a Class A felony and will face a minimum mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, life with the possibility of parole after 10 years, or a minimum of 25 years in prison with eligibility for parole after 10 years.

It is important to remember that it is up to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney to decide whether to pursue a felony charge under the habitual criminal statutes. If you have a prior conviction and are facing designation or charges as a habitual criminal in Nevada, it is critical to hire a defense attorney with experience working aggressively with prosecutors to eliminate the habitual criminal designation from the charges.

Call Our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers at (702) 904-8858

Our Las Vegas criminal defense trial lawyers at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC are different because of our willingness and capacity to fight aggressively all the way to trial, if necessary. When we sit down with prosecutors, they know we come prepared and our legal defense case has merit to win in court.

We offer free consultations so you can discuss your case. Call (702) 904-8858 to schedule yours.

Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC

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