logo(left)logo(right)

image of uniformed officer

The information on this site is not offered as legal advice. To be effective, legal advice must be tailored to the needs of individual clients and cases. If you are interested in a competent opinion about how some of the information on this site applies to a situation in your life, you should make an appointment to see Brandon Crawford. You can make an appointment by calling 855-CRAWFORD or emailing Brandon at brandon@crawfordlaw.net.

General Questions

Here is the better question: Can you resolve your criminal case without hiring a lawyer?

Can you sail a yacht across the Atlantic without an experienced navigator? Sure, it’s possible. Is it possible to perform an appendectomy on yourself without a surgical team? Wikipedia says so. So can you resolve your criminal case without hiring a lawyer? Sure. The Sixth Amendment guarantees both the right to self-representation and the right to appointment of counsel for the indigent defendant facing incarceration.

Public defenders are often some of the most experienced trial lawyers in a given jurisdiction, but that reality is both a blessing and a curse. Public defenders frequently have crippling caseloads that prevent them from becoming intimately familiar with every case. More than that, public defenders are assigned to cases rather than being chosen by the accused, which can impact rapport building. Good rapport is essential to a successful attorney-client relationship in a criminal case because of the angst and embarrassment that come along with a criminal charge and the limited amount of time available in criminal cases.

If you are considering representing yourself, the prosecutor handling your case will probably love the idea. In fact, the prosecutor handling your case might even encourage the court to oblige your request to proceed pro se. After taking care of a few formalities (and with a little help from the court), your prosecutor will even carve some time out of your schedule for you to reflect on the decision to represent yourself (housing and wardrobe provided). Even if horizontal stripes give you that portly look, you’ll be losing weight in no time. In this business, there is a vast divide between paper and practice. As the old adage goes, every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

The fact that you are reading this demonstrates that you recognize the risk associated with running the gamut of the criminal justice system with inadequate reinforcement. Deciding to do so can have devastating consequences and it’s a decision you will almost certainly regret.
Great question. Call Brandon Crawford at (501) 725-6517 to discuss. If you already have an attorney in mind, here is a good place to start the vetting process.
Estimating an exact fee without any consideration of the circumstances of a case is impractical because of the number of factors that must be considered in determining a reasonable fee. I will discuss your case with you for free and I always communicate contingencies on the front end. I will not quote a fee until I have a firm grasp of the complexity of your case and the outcome you desire. Although I use comprehensive flat fees primarily, different fee structures work best for different types of cases and I will try to work with you to find a workable structure for payment.

Criminal Law FAQ

Because this dynamic is a recurring theme in the criminal justice system, prosecutors are quite familiar with this predicament. When a complainant indicates a desire to abandon the case, the prosecutor handling the case may decide to move forward with evidence other than testimony from a complainant to prove to the case-- a tactic referred to as "evidence based prosecution."

You may have heard talk of a victim "dropping the case" on television or in casual conversation, but prosecutors ignore these requests all the time. Unlike civil cases, prosecutors initiate criminal cases and have broad discretion and exclusive autonomy in determining whether or not to pursue a case.
In the United States, an act is considered a crime if the governing legislative body has defined the act as a crime. Arkansas law clearly establishes criminal culpability in certain instances where a person "should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk" associated with their actions.

So yes, there are plenty of examples of accidents that are also crimes. Negligent Homicide (negligently causing the death of another person), Battery in the Third Degree (negligently causing physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon), and Unknowingly Furnishing or Selling to Minor (unknowingly selling, giving away, or otherwise disposing of intoxicating liquor to a minor) are all examples of "accidental" crimes.

There are also strict liability crimes, which make an act a crime regardless of the person’s state of mind. Many traffic offenses (speeding, for example) are strict liability offenses.
In order to convict a person of a crime, the government must satisfy its burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of a crime are established by statute and case law. If the crime does not require a specific state of mind, there is no need to establish what the defendant was thinking or the defendant’s motive in committing the act.
Prosecutors frequently rely on circumstantial evidence to prove what a person understood or intended in a specific situation. In other words, the government presents a set of circumstances and asks the judge or jury to infer the person’s intent from the circumstances. For example, say a parent catches his or her child in the act of lifting the lid to the cookie jar; it’s a safe bet for the parent to assume the little heathen’s aim was to swindle a cookie. Because it is a legal fiction, however, the law establishes limits for the admissibility of circumstantial evidence and the weight that should be given to it.
An accomplice is someone who assists or encourages another person in the commission of a crime with the intent that the crime be committed. Put differently, when two people aid one another in the commission of a crime, each is an accomplice and criminally liable for the conduct of both. In some situations, a person can be convicted on an accomplice theory even if the person did not personally participate in every act that makes up the crime as a whole.

Unlike accomplice liability, which describes the scope of liability for certain parties to a crime, conspiracy to commit a crime is a crime in and of itself. A person conspires to commit a crime when the person agrees with at least one other person to commit the crime and either person takes some step to put the plan into motion.
Whether the drugs belong to you or not, if the officer suspects that the drugs are yours, the officer is going to place you under arrest. If you are in this situation, you need to hire a lawyer immediately. Paradoxically, Arkansas law does not require the government prove a person physically possessed an illegal item in order convict the person of possessing the item. The government can rely on the concept of constructive possession, which allows the element of possession to be inferred so long as the government can present enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that the item was under the person’s dominion and control. Prosecutors can point to a variety of circumstances (called "linking factors") to prove a person constructively possessed an item.
Without more, possession or control of stolen property is not a crime. In order to convict a person for the crime of theft by receiving, the government must establish that the person received, retained, or disposed of the stolen property knowing or having good reason to believe the property was stolen.
Although both crimes prohibit a person who is intoxicated from operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, only a person who is under twenty-one (21) years of age can get a DUI in Arkansas. The DUI statutes, often called the "Underage DUI Laws," establish a penalty structure separate and distinct from the DWI statutes.
Breath testing instruments are a heavily used investigatory tool for obvious reasons. You have a right to refuse to submit to a chemical test, but doing so is a violation with a mandatory license suspension.

Having said that, you should know that before you even saw the blue lights, the officer started collecting evidence to use against you. When the officer arrives at your window, you can choose to assist the officer in that endeavor or you can choose to leave the officer to his or her own devices.

Criminal Procedure FAQ

In the investigatory stage of a criminal case (before the case percolates into the courthouse), two constitutional provisions are of paramount importance because they restrain law enforcement's ability to deprive you of your freedom and intrude into your private affairs and thoughts: the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. No need to run off to Google though, here’s a crash course on the options and protections afforded by them:

Lawyer Up Or Shut Up
Yes. Even when a police officer has no reason to suspect that you have committed a crime, the officer can legally approach you to ask questions, request identification, or even request consent to search you. Much like any other person you might encounter on the street, police officers do not need a particular reason to bother you. Unfortunately, there is no constitutional protection that prevents a police officer from pestering you. So long as the circumstances surrounding the contact are not coercive, the officer is not prohibited from hassling you as you walk down the street.
Maybe. If the officer is investigating a recent crime, Arkansas law implies an obligation to cooperate with the investigation to a certain extent. However, Arkansas law does not permit a police officer to arrest a person for refusing to identify himself if the person's identification is unnecessary to address other concerns, such as suspicion of criminal activity or the safety of the officer. Certain constitutional rights (such as the right to remain silent) may trump the obligation to cooperate with an investigation as well.
In Arkansas, the act of evading a checkpoint is almost certainly enough to justify a traffic stop. In other words, if you turn around to avoid a checkpoint, you should prepare yourself to explain the decision to a police officer.
Absolutely. Police officers regularly use a minor traffic violation as a pretext to justify an unrelated intrusion into a person's affairs. Despite the fact that police use the tactic as an end run around the protections of the Fourth Amendment, courts approve of the tactic.
In Arkansas, a law enforcement officer acting without a warrant may arrest a person only in limited situations:
  • when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a felony
  • when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a traffic offense involving the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, death or physical injury to a person, or damage to property
  • when the person has committed a violation of law in the presence of the officer
  • when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person committed certain criminal acts of domestic abuse within four (4) hours preceding the arrest if no physical injury was involved or 12 (twelve) hours if physical injury was involved
  • when the officer is otherwise authorized by law, such as an arrest for violation of probation or parole

So long as the arresting officer is instructed to make the arrest by another officer or police agency that collectively possesses knowledge sufficient to constitute reasonable cause, an arresting officer need not personally have the information that provides reasonable cause for the arrest.

Probably nothing. Courts use the standard of voluntariness to assess whether or not a confession is admissible and several courts have determined that misrepresentations about key facts regarding the strength of a case (such as falsely telling the accused that an eyewitness identified the accused) are insufficient to make confession involuntary. However, false promises of leniency and misrepresentations of the law will frequently render a confession involuntary.
No. Courts recognize a number of different exceptions to the warrant clause of the Fourth Amendment. For instance, no search warrant is required to search certain open areas of a person's property outside the person's home. An officer may conduct a warrantless search in other limited situations involving an emergency or the risk that evidence may be lost or destroyed before police could obtain a warrant.
No. When a person discards trash by placing a trash bag on the curbside for pickup, the person abandons any expectation of privacy in the contents of the trash bag. Abandonment can also apply to places, like an apartment or a vehicle.

Brandon Crawford
brandon@crawfordlaw.net
Brandon Crawford's Avvo Rating
CRAWFORD LAW FIRM
415 Ouachita Avenue
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901
P: 501-725-6517
T: 855-725-6517
F: 855-725-6013
free case review