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Frequently Asked Questions: Criminal Defense

If you are facing criminal charges in Arkansas, whether for a drug offense, a violent crime or theft crime, or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you undoubtedly have lots of questions about what comes next. Here are answers to frequently-asked questions from Bentonville, AR criminal defense attorney Mike Armstrong:

Q: If I'm guilty, do I still need to hire a lawyer?

First of all, never assume you are guilty. The law is complicated, and in order to establish guilt the prosecutor will need to prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you think you are guilty, there is still a very real possibility that you have not actually committed the crime alleged.

However, even if you committed a criminal offense, you absolutely should still hire a lawyer. You could still have several defenses available, and an experienced attorney may be able to help you secure a reduced charge or sentence – if not avoid conviction entirely.

Q: What are some potential defenses to criminal charges in Arkansas?

The first line of defense is to challenge the prosecution's evidence of guilt. The prosecution has the burden of proof, and if you can effectively dispute the reliability of the government's evidence or identify weaknesses in the government's case, this can avoid a guilty verdict at trial.

Another strategy for defending criminal cases is to argue that police mistakes before, during or after your arrest entitle you to walk free. From unwarranted searches and seizures to failing to read your Miranda rights prior to an interrogation, you may have Constitutional grounds to argue for dismissal or acquittal.

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

A felony is a criminal offense for which the potential penalties include imprisonment for a term of one year or longer. The term of imprisonment for a misdemeanor cannot exceed one year. In Arkansas, the maximum prison sentences for felonies and misdemeanors are:

  • Class Y felony: life imprisonment
  • Class A felony: imprisonment for 30 years
  • Class B felony: imprisonment for 20 years
  • Class C felony: imprisonment for 10 years
  • Class D felony: imprisonment for six years
  • Unclassified felonies: imprisonment as determined by statute
  • Class A misdemeanor: imprisonment for one year
  • Class B misdemeanor: imprisonment for 90 days
  • Class C misdemeanor: imprisonment for 30 days
  • Unclassified misdemeanors: imprisonment as determined by statute

Q: What penalties can I face besides jail time in Arkansas?

In most cases, in addition to facing possible jail time, when charged with a crime in Arkansas you will also be facing fines and court costs. These can easily add up to thousands, or even tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars. Community service may also be on the table (perhaps as an alternative to imprisonment). For certain offenses, such as DWI and domestic violence, you can face additional crime-specific penalties as well.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Northwest Arkansas? Call for a Confidential Consultation

If you are facing criminal charges in Northwest Arkansas, contact Rhoads & Armstrong for a confidential consultation. Facing any type of criminal charge is a serious matter, and it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. To speak with one of the attorneys at Rhoads & Armstrong directly about your case, call our firm 24/7 at 479-254-0135 or inquire online today.