Quick Reference Guide
The purpose of this guide is to provide you, as a client, with answers to many commonly asked questions about what to expect when you go to court. So, hopefully this information will be helpful to you in understanding both our legal system, as well as the way that I normally operate.
What to do if you’ve been arrested
As soon as possible you, or someone on your behalf, should contact me. All my numbers are readily available on my business cards, and the internet at balansimpsonlaw.com. Do not talk to police until we have spoken to each other.
What happens when a person gets arrested?
When you are initially arrested you will be booked and fingerprinted. After that, a representative from Pre-trial Services will interview you to aid the judge in determining what your bail bond should be. If you are arrested for DUI you must stay for 5 hours no matter what. In cases where you are charged with Domestic Violence-Assault the local judges will normally require that you appear in court the next morning.
It is best if a family member can appear at your initial hearing if you are still in jail. This will make it more likely that the judge would approve a surety bond for you. Remember, the presiding judge is the only person who can reduce or lower your bond. The jail can only answer calls and give general information about the charges a person has and what their bond is.
Do they really record inmate’s phone calls from the jail?
Absolutely, positively yes. They cannot listen to Attorney/client calls, but everything else is recorded and subject to being played back to you in open court.
What happens to my bond money?
If you post bond, your bond money is held by the Clerk of the Warren District or Circuit Court. The bond will normally be refunded to the posting party at the end of your case. However, judges sometimes ask if your bond can be applied to your fines and court costs. If it is not “your money”, then it will be refunded to the person who posted it.
What should I bring to my appointment?
Please bring all paperwork that you received from the jail and/or police. This will assist us in determining how serious your charges are and when you will have court. Also, if you have witness statements those can also be very helpful.
What is an Arraignment?
This is your first appearance that you make in front of a judge. The purpose of this hearing is to explain the charges to a defendant. Rarely will anything happen at these hearings other than the entry of a plea of Not Guilty. If you are charged with a traffic violation or a misdemeanor, a pretrial conference will be scheduled. If you are charged with a felony and are still in District Court, the Judge will schedule a Preliminary Hearing.
What is a preliminary hearing?
A preliminary hearing occurs when you have been charged with a felony. They are done in District Court only. The purpose of these hearings is to determine whether there is probable cause to have your case bound over or sent to the Grand Jury. In about 95% of felony cases the judge will find probable cause and then your case will be sent to the Grand Jury for review. If you are in custody, you have the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days, or 20 days if you are not in custody. In some cases, it is better to waive this hearing.
Will my case go to a jury trial?
Less than 5% of cases go to a jury trial. However, in some circumstances your case may go to trial. Therefore, it is important to keep up with any witness information or anything else that you think may assist in your case.
What is a grand jury?
Each cycle of jury duty (every month in Warren County) a different group of people are summonsed in for jury duty. From that group of people, the court will randomly select 12 people who will serve as Grand Jurors. The grand jury will meet at a regularly scheduled time and hear testimony presented through police officers. This group is to determine whether a person should be indicted. This means that they vote to formally charge you and require you to appear in Circuit Court. Normally the only persons in attendance at these proceedings are the police officers and the Commonwealth’s Attorney. On rare occasions, a Defendant will ask to appear and give their side of the story. However, the Grand Jury is not required to hear testimony from a Defendant.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is the material that the prosecution will provide to a defendant to show them what evidence they have against them. While this varies greatly from county to county, and even more so in Federal Court, the prosecutors are required to disclose what evidence they have against you. We usually receive discovery after your Arraignment.
What should I do if I change addresses?
Changes of address and phone numbers create all kinds of avoidable problems – like missed appointments and, even worse, missed court dates. So, if you move or change your phone numbers, please let us know immediately.
What do you charge?
It depends on the situation and how serious it is. I normally charge a flat fee, which is non-refundable. I price criminal cases by the job, not by the hour. Now with almost 30 years of experience, I feel that you are getting the benefit, not only of my time, my experience and the good reputation that I have built with prosecutors and judges.
I called and only got to voicemail, did you get my message?
If you left it, we got it. The staff here in our office will do everything they can to respond in a timely fashion. Usually, if you haven’t heard back there is a really good reason. However, if you have a real emergency, call my cell phone. I am accessible and will attempt to your call as soon as possible.
When is my next court date?
If you have questions about your court date, (we always send letters with that information) you may visit (www.courts.ky.gov/counties/warren) or call the clerk at 746-7400. Also, if you have questions about the status of your driver’s license, you can contact the Department of Transportation office at 746-7493.
If the police want to question me, do I need a lawyer?
You better believe it. In many cases, the police will not be able to prove a case, or even bring charges, unless they get a confession or other information from you. Always play it safe. Hire a lawyer before you say anything. You have a right to a lawyer. Exercise that right. Depending on the charge, your life may depend on it.
Do you handle Personal Injury cases?
Of course I do. While you won’t see me on TV, I have handled these cases for 20 years. The difference you will experience with me on your side is trial experience. A good personal injury attorney is no stranger to the courtroom. If the insurance company doesn’t offer enough for your injury, we go to trial. If you are even thinking about hiring an injury lawyer, the most important factor is trial experience. Ask them how many jury trials they have had in the last 5 years. Then verify it. There is NO substitute for experience. Oh by the way, there is no fee unless you win.
Are DUI’s serious charges?
Absolutely. A DUI can result in the loss of driver’s license, jobs and possible jail time. If convicted, it will remain on your driving record for 5 years from the date of your conviction. You should at least talk to a lawyer to see if there is a defense to the charge.
Can I clear my criminal record?
Possibly. There is a procedure called Expungement that can clear your record, depending on what your record is. In the last few years, it has become more difficult to expunge charges. Call us today and we will gladly evaluate your specific situation.
Am I going to jail? Can you get me out of jail?
The answer here is that a lawyer can’t GUARANTEE anything. If you get a guarantee like that, someone is pulling your leg. While an experienced attorney can give you an educated opinion when asked, nothing is guaranteed in this business. Only a judge can change someone’s bond/bail. That said, if your in need I will work hard to keep you with your loved ones.
Are you friends with the prosecutors and judges?
I have spent over 20 years building a professional reputation with judges, prosecutors and other attorneys. That being said, our prosecutors and judges in this area do not play favorites. Again, if someone tells you they get special treatment because they are buddies with someone, walk away. Not only is that not true, its unethical to even suggest it.
Do you only work in Bowling Green and Warren County?
I have practiced all over Kentucky and on occasion in Tennessee. While on many occasions it is a good idea to hire a “local” lawyer, I do practice all over South Central Kentucky and beyond.