Being accused of a crime can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with an offense, you need to consult with qualified counsel. James Law Firm in Little Rock is one of Arkansas’ largest and most accomplished defense firms, experienced in the full range of state and federal criminal cases. Our attorneys have compiled this list of some of the most common questions we receive from clients.
The attorneys of James Law Firm in Little Rock are ready to provide you with personalized answers and take action to protect your rights. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (501) 375-0900 or contact us online. Hablamos español.
Is it better to be charged in federal court or Arkansas state court?
It isn’t necessarily better or worse to be charged with a crime in federal court versus state court, but it is different. Criminal cases heard in federal court involve activity that crosses state lines (such as interstate kidnapping or human trafficking) or that violates a federal criminal law, which can include anything from mail fraud to terrorism. State and federal courts each have their own rules and procedures, governing such issues as admissibility of evidence and standard of proof. There are also different guidelines for imposing sentences.
Should I accept the plea bargain offered by the prosecutor?
Agreeing to a plea bargain is a major decision that should only be made with the advice of a defense attorney. You have a constitutionally guaranteed right to a jury trial in a criminal case. The vast majority of cases do not go to trial because prosecutors typically offer a reduced sentence, a lesser charge or some other benefit in return for a guilty plea. However, you need to fully appreciate the pros and cons of the deal in question, including the consequences of having a criminal record.
Does a jury verdict have to be unanimous?
Criminal verdicts rendered by a jury in Arkansas state court must be unanimous. The same is true in federal criminal cases. If a jury is hung — that is, unable to reach a unanimous verdict — the judge may declare a mistrial, requiring the prosecutor to decide whether to retry the case or drop the charges.
Does Arkansas have mandatory minimum sentences?
Arkansas law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for specified offenses, mainly drug crimes, for which the length of imprisonment depends on the quantities of controlled substances involved. The federal system also has mandatory minimum sentences for many drug crimes as well as for certain gun, pornography and financial crimes.
If I’m found guilty at trial, do I have a right to appeal?
In Arkansas, you can appeal to a higher court after trial and conviction, but the appeal can only challenge alleged errors of law and procedure, not the jury’s finding of guilt. You must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the entry of judgment. If the case was in federal court, the deadline is 10 days. These are short deadlines, so you should consult with an experienced appeals lawyer immediately to proceed.