FAQs: DC Criminal Defense

Below, DC criminal lawyer Peter Odom answers some frequently asked questions about criminal charges, investigations, and defense attorneys in Washington, DC.

What Should I Expect When I Get to Court?

That depends on what kind of hearing you have. If you’re scheduled for an arraignment, then you can expect to have the court read to you what your charges are and for your attorney to be ready to enter a plea of guilty or not...

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What Does it Mean to be on Probation?

Probation is a sentence by a judge that establishes a certain number of requirements that a person would have to follow instead of serving jail time. So after a person is found guilty, either because of a guilty plea or a jury verdict, the judge...

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How is the Punishment for a Given Offense Determined?

The DC legislator writes into the laws what the maximum sentence a person can face for a given offense. For a misdemeanor assault charge, for example, they determined that the most jail time a person can legally get is one hundred and eighty days. For...

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What is the Difference Between a Felony and Misdemeanor Charge?

Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors,  both in the actions that result in the charge and the associated penalties upon being convicted of the crime. A felony is any charge that carries a maximum penalty of more than 1 year of incarceration.  Any charge...

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What is The Difference Between Active and Suspended Jail Time?

Shawn Sukumar: Active jail time is time that a defendant spends in the DC jail serving a sentence. Suspended jail time is jail time that is imposed by the court, but that the defendant does not have to serve as long as he complies with...

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What does it mean to have a warrant out for my arrest?

When law enforcement officers believe you have committed a crime, they can’t always simply knock on your door and arrest you.  In certain situations, they are required to first file a request for an arrest warrant with a judge.  This request must establish probable cause...

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If an officer wants to search my car, my home, or my person, do I have a choice?

Shawn Sukumar: If the police officer has a search warrant for your car, your home, or to be able to search you personally, then no. A warrant grants them the authority to be able to conduct that search with certain limitations. But, if the police...

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Can I Have a Misdemeanor Arrest or a Conviction Sealed in DC?

Yes, in most circumstances. In the event that you are arrested for a misdemeanor and you were not convicted, then your record can typically be expunged after a waiting period of either two or four years, depending on your charge. However, in the event that...

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What are Some Other Conditions of Probation in DC?

The most important condition of probation is don’t get re-arrested while you’re on probation, either in DC or anywhere else. Other conditions can include regular drug or alcohol testing and treatment, anger management classes, and community service. In a domestic violence case, a person can...

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If DC Law Enforcement Calls About My Criminal Investigation, Should I Talk To Them?

Shawn Sukumar: Absolutely not. And it doesn’t matter if you feel that you didn’t do anything wrong, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s not a big deal or if the police tell you you’re not suspected of committing a crime. If a law enforcement...

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