Call today to defend your rights!
24/7 Availability

Criminal Defense FAQs

Read our most frequently asked criminal defense questions asked in the Chicago area. Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys 24/7 for a FREE consultation. We protect your rights!
Tell Your Side of the STory
social security attorney southfield mi
"We can help you defend your rights. Call and speak with me today." -M. Schmiege

criminal defense Frequently Asked Questions (FAq)

contact our attorneys with any additional criminal case questions you may Have.

We pride ourselves in representing each client's case as if it were our own. We understand how important it is to fight for your rights and the best possible outcome for your criminal matter.

Here's some frequently asked questions you may find helpful. Remember, you can call me with any criminal related questions you may have.

How can Attorney Schmiege help me?

Our legal team takes pride in our impressive record in the defense of clients charged with even the most serious of criminal offenses. We will fully analyze the case, the evidence, all reports and statements and determine what strategy will be employed to fight for your freedom. We know how important the outcome of the case is and are prepared to aggressively defend our clients, no matter how hopeless the case may first appear. An aggressive and dedicated defense lawyer from our team can increase the possibility of a better outcome on any criminal charges. Act quickly, as a strong defense begins from the moment you are arrested.

Contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Michael P. Schmiege for aggressive legal represenation in all types of criminal charges. Fill out our free case evaluation form today!

Read the full FAQ here:
How can Attorney Schmiege help me?

What if I have been wrongfully accused?

Even in cases in which the individual is completely innocent, if you have been arrested this indicates that the prosecutor considers there is enough evidence to get a conviction. Unfortunately, you will be forced to prove your innocence in court. The attorney you select to represent you has an important impact on the outcome of the case. Contact our firm at once to initiate the defense actions that must take place when the client is innocent of the charge.

Do I have certain rights?

You absolutely have rights; rights that should be protected above all else. Upon arrest, you should be read your Miranda Rights, denoting that you have the right to remain silent until you retain an attorney to speak on your behalf. This is something we strongly suggest you take into consideration. Do not speak unless you have to, and even then be careful what you say as anything you say after arrest could be held against you in a court of law. No one should force a statement out of you, not the police, not medical professionals, no one. You should be treated with respect and decency throughout the entire process, from the point of your arrest until the final arraignment.

Read the full FAQ here:
Do I have certain rights?

What kind of penalties could I face?

This largely depends on the crimes you have been charged with and if you have a previous record of criminal convictions. Illinois is not entirely lenient, even when it comes to misdemeanors. Offenses such as possession of marijuana less than 30 grams or driving under the influence could still land you with up to $2,500 in fines and jail time up to one year. More severe felonies could result in a lifetime of prison and up to $1 million in fines for some crimes.

Read the full FAQ here:
What kind of penalties could I face?

Why do I need a criminal defense attorney?

Should you choose to represent yourself or use a public defender, you may be writing your own conviction and sentence.

What should I do if I have been charged with a crime?

Any accusation of criminal activity is a dangerous matter and requires the assistance of a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney. Even a first DUI offense if you are convicted can affect your future employment and result in a suspended license and costly fines. When the crime is more serious, such as a felony offense, you are in serious legal trouble and must act quickly. It is true that you must stay silent after being arrested for any serious criminal offense. Many individuals have damaged their own cases by making comments or statements that are later used as evidence against them in court. Your first step after the arrest should be to contact our firm and get legal counsel to protect you.

What are Common Defenses Used in Criminal Trials?

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer

In order to be convicted of a crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant met each element of the alleged offense. There are defenses that the criminal defense attorney can use that may cast doubt upon the prosecution’s case against the defendant. This is vital. If the finder of fact has any reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, then the fact-finder (judge or jury) must find the defendant not guilty. If these defenses are presented to the prosecution prior to trial, then the prosecution may realize the weaknesses in the case and may dismiss the charges. The following are common general defense options used in criminal cases and trials by criminal defense lawyers.

1. Alibi – When supported by sufficient evidence, this defense is often successful. This criminal defense strategy attempts to prove that you were not in the place of the crime at the time of the crime. This is usually backed up by witness testimony or other documentation, such as a credit card receipt at a gas station in Alaska on the day a crime was committed in Chicago.

2. Self Defense – This defense can be employed in cases of violent crimes like assault or homicide. To employ this defense, the defendant must admit that they committed the violent act in question. Then, the defendant must attempt to justify his or her actions by claiming that the complaining witness was threatening him or her and therefore the defendant acted without premeditation or criminal motive, and that he or she only acted to protect his or her own safety.

3. Insanity Defense – The insanity defense is a complicated but sometimes highly effective defense against criminal liability. If you are going to use this defense it is extremely important that you have a qualified criminal defense attorney representing you. In Illinois, you cannot be committed of a crime if at the time of the crime you lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. However, if you are acquitted of a crime because you are found not guilty by reason of insanity, you may end up spending more time in a mental hospital than you would have spent in jail or prison had you been found guilty.

4. Entrapment – The law does not allow government actors to persuade citizens to commit crimes that they were otherwise not planning on committing. However, if the government provides an opportunity for criminal activity and arrest those who willingly participate in it, that is not considered entrapment. A skilled criminal attorney will know when an entrapment defense is appropriate.

5. Statute of limitations – The government must bring charges against a criminal defendant within a certain period of time after the commission of the crime. If the government fails to bring charges within the period of statute of limitations, then they effectively forfeited their ability to prosecute anyone for the crime, whether that person is guilty or not. Some crimes, especially violent crimes, do not have a statute of limitations. For other crimes, the statute of limitations varies by crime and state. Your criminal attorney will know the statute of limitations for the crime you are charged with.

Call Us Today

If you have been charged with a crime in Chicago it is important that you contact an experienced criminal attorney to aggressively defend your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

What are the Top DUI Defenses in Chicago?

DUI Defense in Chicago

All police officers are required to comply with the U.S. Constitution, police procedures, and the law when making traffic stops. Failure to do so often means that a DUI charge should be dropped. Here are some common defenses criminal lawyers use for DUI charges in Illinois.

1. There was no reasonable suspicion to make a stop. Unless you were stopped a routine checkpoint that stopped vehicles in a lawful pattern (i.e., they stopped every third car, not just cars they wanted to stop), then an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is or is about to be committed in order to pull you over. This includes minor traffic stops. Reasonable suspicion can come from an anonymous tip of unsafe driving, as long as the police officer personally verifies the erratic driving. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to tell you if there was reasonable suspicion to make a stop.

2. No signs of intoxication. If there are no signs of intoxication once an officer pulls you over, then the officer cannot request that you take a Standardized Field Sobriety Test or that you submit to a breath test machine. In order to do so, the officer must have reasonable suspicion of intoxication. Reasonable suspicion of intoxication includes, but is not limited to, slurred speech, glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol, or admission of the use of drugs or alcohol by the driver.

3. Unlawful arrest. Sometimes, police officers pull a car over for a minor traffic infraction, such as a broken taillight, in the hopes of finding probable cause to arrest the driver for a driving under the influence offense. If the officer arrests you before such probable cause arises, then that arrest is unlawful. All evidence gathered after an unlawful arrest, such as evidence of intoxication, may be deemed inadmissible in court. It is not always clear when an arrest has occurred. A criminal attorney should review the facts of your case to determine if the police officer made an unlawful arrest.

4. Improperly scored Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes that several mistakes that can occur while administering the SFST result in a failure of the test. These mistakes skew the results in favor of impairment and therefore cannot be relied upon to determine if someone committed a DUI offense.

5. An experienced attorney. Your best defense against a DUI charge is an experienced criminal attorney. There are many ins and outs of DUI defense. Each case is factually distinct and a good attorney will know how to best apply the facts of your case to the law in order to get you the best outcome possible. If you are charged with a DUI, the penalties can be severe. You should contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible to assist you with your defense.

Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer in Chicago

Contact criminal attorney Michael Schmiege today if you have been arrested for DUI in Illinois. Mr. Schmiege will provide an honest assessment of your case. Contact us today.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

A good rule of thumb is: If you think you might need a criminal defense attorney, you probably do. It is not worth risking fines, marks on your record, or incarceration because you choose not to hire an attorney.

Being charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience. There are many different statutes and laws designed to define and set punishments for criminal conduct. You might commit a crime without even realizing it. You may think you are committing a minor crime but then find yourself facing severe penalties. The criminal justice system is a harsh and complicated beast. It is almost always in your best interest to at least consult a criminal attorney if you find yourself in any criminal trouble, including trouble with traffic violations.

Protect Your Rights

If you are ever taken into custody, you should immediately ask for your criminal lawyer. You do not have to answer any questions asked of you by the police. They will try to convince you that it is in your best interest to answer their questions, or that they are on “your side.” This is almost never the case. You should ask for a lawyer as soon as they read you your Miranda rights or as soon as you believe you are not free to go. Once you ask for a criminal lawyer, the government officials holding you in custody must cease asking you questions. Do not initiate conversation with them again until you have your lawyer present. The government officials holding you are obligated to provide you with a public defender if you cannot afford an attorney.

A criminal defense attorney will understand much better than you the implications of your charges, how the facts of your case help or hurt your chances of being found not guilty, and what questions you should or should not answer. You have the right against self-incrimination. While this seems basic and simple enough, it is almost impossible for a layperson to understand what statements can be incriminating. Something that seems neutral to you, or something that seems like it could help exonerate you, can be used by the police and prosecution against you. Additionally, an experienced criminal defense attorney will have a good working relationship with the opposing side. If the prosecution has respect for your attorney, you are much more likely to end up with a favorable deal or dismissal.

The fact of the matter is that, even though the saying is “innocent until proven guilty,” once you are arrested, the police, prosecution and even judge are likely to presume you are guilty. This is an unfair, harsh reality. With an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you, you are much more likely to overcome these unfair biases. Further, a criminal defense attorney has seen and done this all before. Your criminal attorney can be a reassuring source of comfort during a very stressful time.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Contact criminal lawyer Michael Schmiege for a free consultation. Mr. Schmiege handles criminal matters throughout the Chicago area and the United States.

Is Circumstantial Evidence Enough to Convict Someone at Trial?

The Law Office of Michael P. Schmiege

Yes. Circumstantial evidence is enough to convict someone at trial. The standard for finding someone guilty in a criminal trial is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” This standard can be met using either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence. An experienced criminal attorney can explain this more indepth.

Direct evidence is evidence that, if believed by the fact-finder, proves the existence of a certain fact without needing any inference or “connecting the dots.” For example, if Susan sees Mary put a diamond ring into her purse and then walk out of the store without paying for the ring, then Susan’s testimony would be direct evidence that Mary committed a theft.

Circumstantial evidence is also known as indirect evidence. Circumstantial evidence involves the connections of a series of facts that, when examined together using reason and experience, can lead one to infer a certain conclusion. For example, say that Susan, a jewelry store employee, knew that Mary had very little money and loved diamond rings. One day, Susan and Mary were alone in the jewelry store, where a diamond ring lay on a table. Susan leaves the room briefly and when she returns, Mary and the diamond ring are gone. One can reasonably infer from that set of facts that Mary stole the diamond ring. There are alternative explanations, though, because Susan did not witness the alleged theft. A criminal attorney will be able to develop a strong defense to a circumstantial evidence case.

It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which circumstantial evidence is all that is needed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, imagine Jane sees Tom go into an empty house with Jim. Then, Jane hears screams and shortly thereafter sees Tom run from the house covered in blood and carrying a knife that is later proved to be the weapon used to stab Jim to death. We have to infer from the facts presented what happened. The facts are: 1) Tom and Jim go into a house together; 2) the house was empty before Tom and Jim entered it; 3) someone screamed; 4) Jim was stabbed to death; and, 5) Tom was seen running from the home covered in blood and carrying the murder weapon. We can fill in the dots, so to speak, to believe that Tom stabbed Jim. However, Jane did not actually see Tom stab Jim, so there is no direct evidence.

Clearly, direct evidence makes it easier to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a prosecutor can still convince a jury using only circumstantial evidence that a defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to win a case where there is direct or circumstantial evidence. The important questions to ask is: What is the evidence? Are there reasonable ways to interpret the evidence that lead to a conclusion other than the defendant committed the crime? Each judge and jury is different. What may be persuasive to one jury falls short of persuading another. That is why it is important to have an experienced and skilled criminal attorney defending you at trial, no matter how circumstantial the evidence may be.

Are You Accused of a Crime?

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Schmiege is experienced in defending criminal cases in Chicago and throughout the United States. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today. Call our office for a free consultation.

What is the Right to a Speedy Trial?

The U.S. Constitution includes in the Bill of Rights the right to a speedy trial. The Sixth Amendment states in part: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that there is no unnecessary or unreasonable delay between arrest and trial. It is not the point of our justice system to hold arrestees who have not yet been tried indefinitely. That is contrary to the principle that criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty. If there is a violation of your Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, that is cause to dismiss your criminal case with prejudice. When the court dismisses a case with prejudice, that means you cannot be re-charged for the same crime and made to go to trial again. An experienced criminal lawyer can explain this to you in greater detail.

Speedy Trial History

In the 1970’s, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that whether or not a criminal defendant has been denied his or her right to a speedy trial is subject to a case-by-case analysis. What that means is there is no set rule to determine if someone’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury has been violated. Instead, the court must look at the unique factors in each case to determine if there has been such a violation. In order to determine if there has been a violation, the court has to apply a four-part balancing test. If, after applying the test, the court finds that the delay unfairly prejudiced the defendant, then there is a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The court will weigh the following four factors in determining if there was a violation:

(1) The length of the delay;

(2) The reason for the delay;

(3) When and how the defendant has asserted his or her Sixth Amendment right;

(4) How much prejudice is caused by the delay.

The Supreme Court has found that a 7-month delay due to the illness of the chief investigating officer, while long, is justifiable. A five-year period between the arrest and trial was considered “extraordinary.” A crowded docket with many criminal cases to try is not a sufficiently good reason for excessive delay. If you believe that your right to a speedy trial has been violated then contact a criminal lawyer immediately.

It is possible, and sometimes advisable, to waive your right to a speedy trial. Your experienced criminal defense attorney will know when waiving your right to a speedy trial is the prudent choice.

Contact The Law Office of Michael P. Schmiege

However, in order to turn yourself in you have to know that there is a warrant out for you. If you are suspicious that there may be a warrant in a particular city or county, you can go to that city or county’s courthouse. However, there is no guarantee that it will be there. Additionally, you can search a clerk of court’s website

A more effective method of searching for a warrant is to conduct a background search on yourself. There are many websites that allow you to do this for a small fee. These websites will provide you with your criminal record, also called your “rap sheet.” It should include past, present and pending local, state and federal charges. These are the same websites used by employers and landlords when they are considering hiring candidates or leasing to tenants. Simply Google “criminal background check” and choose the company you like best to conduct your background check.

Even if you don’t think you have a criminal record, it is never a bad idea to conduct a period background check on yourself. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find mistakes. It’s possible that you share a name with a criminal. If you find a mistake on your record, contact a criminal attorney to discuss your options for having the mistake rectified.

Call Us If You Have Questions

Contact criminal defense lawyer Michael Schmiege today for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been arrested or accused of a crime.

Read the full FAQ here:
What is the Right to a Speedy Trial?

How Can I Find Out If I Have a Warrant?

Do You Have a Warrant Out?

Just because a warrant is issued for you does not mean that the police will immediately come seek you out. It is possible there is a warrant for your arrest even if no one has notified you of it yet. A criminal lawyer can help determine if you have a warrant for your arrest.

There are two types of warrants that allow government officials to take you into custody: a bench warrant and an arrest warrant.

(1) A bench warrant is typically issued because you failed to comply with a judge’s order, such as that to appear at a hearing or to comply with probation conditions.

(2) An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by a judge or magistrate upon a sworn statement that there is probable cause that a) a crime occurred, and b) the person to be arrested committed the crime. It does not matter if the crime is a misdemeanor or felony.

After the judge or magistrate issues the warrant, the police may seek you out and arrest you or arrest you if they happen upon you unintentionally. Alternatively, if you know you have a warrant out for your arrest, you can turn yourself in. This is advantageous for many reasons. For example, you do not have to worry about being arrested in an embarrassing situation, such as in front of your family or coworkers, or out in public. Also, you can plan to have bail money ready so that you have a better shot at getting out of jail soon after you are arrested. Importantly, turning yourself in shows a willingness to cooperate with the authorities that, rightly or wrongly, tends to indicate innocence to the judge and police. It is recommended that you turn yourself in with a criminal attorney to guarantee that your rights are protected.

Finding Out About the Warrant

However, in order to turn yourself in you have to know that there is a warrant out for you. If you are suspicious that there may be a warrant in a particular city or county, you can go to that city or county’s courthouse. However, there is no guarantee that it will be there. Additionally, you can search a clerk of court’s website

A more effective method of searching for a warrant is to conduct a background search on yourself. There are many websites that allow you to do this for a small fee. These websites will provide you with your criminal record, also called your “rap sheet.” It should include past, present and pending local, state and federal charges. These are the same websites used by employers and landlords when they are considering hiring candidates or leasing to tenants. Simply Google “criminal background check” and choose the company you like best to conduct your background check.

Even if you don’t think you have a criminal record, it is never a bad idea to conduct a period background check on yourself. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find mistakes. It’s possible that you share a name with a criminal. If you find a mistake on your record, contact a criminal attorney to discuss your options for having the mistake rectified.

Call Us If You Have Questions

If you or a loved one believe that they may have a warrant for their arrest it is important that you contact an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Contact criminal attorney Michael Schmiege for a free consultation.

What is the Criminal Trial Process?

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime you are probably wondering what the criminal trial process is. It may be that you have never been through the justice system before and have never hired a criminal attorney before. Criminal attorney Michael Schmiege is an experienced criminal lawyer handling cases throughout Chicago. Below is a brief summary of the criminal trial process. If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact criminal lawyer Michael Schmiege.

Pre-trial Motions

After your arrest and grand jury indictment but before a trial, the prosecution and your criminal attorney will file a number of pre-trial motions. These might include motions to admit or suppress evidence, motion to dismiss the case, and a motion to change the venue.

Negotiation

Usually after these motions are filed and ruled upon, the prosecuting attorney and your defense counsel will most likely attempt to negotiate a plea deal. For a client that is innocent, taking a plea bargain might seem on its face like a bad idea. However, a dedicated and skilled criminal attorney will know when it is a good idea for even an innocent client to take a lesser charge.

For example, if you are charged with a DUI and your criminal defense attorney believes it is likely a judge or jury will find you guilty, he may strongly urge you to take a reduced traffic charge that might come with a high fine but none of the jail or license suspension requirements that accompany a DUI conviction. It could be well worth not risking having a DUI on your record to take a plea bargain. In the end, though, it is up to you whether or not you want to take any plea bargain offered to you.

Jury Selection

If there is no plea agreement, the first step in a criminal trial is jury selection. Your criminal attorney and the prosecution will question a number of citizens selected to appear for jury duty and will narrow it down to twelve jurors. Your criminal lawyer will do his or her best to select a jury that will find you the most favorable verdict.

The Trial

At the beginning of a trial, the jurors are sworn in. Then the prosecutor must make an opening statement in which he lists all of the elements of the defendant’s charged offense and that he can prove each and every element. Then, your criminal defense attorney may make an opening statement or wait to make it until after the prosecution presents the government’s case.

The prosecution presents the government’s case first. The prosecutor will introduce evidence and interview witnesses who are under oath. The defense can cross-examine any of the prosecution’s witnesses. Then, the defense presents your case in the same manner, and the prosecution may cross-examine your witnesses.

During the trial, the burden of proving your guilt is on the prosecutor. The defense does not have to present a case.

The prosecutor must prove to the jury that you committed every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if there is any reasonable doubt left in any one of the juror’s minds, then the jury must find you not guilty.

At the conclusion of trial, the parties make their closing arguments to the jury. Then, the jury convenes to decide if you are guilty or not guilty.

How We Can Help

Please contact criminal defense attorney Michael Schmiege today for a free consultation if you have been accused of a crime.

Read the full FAQ here:
What is the Criminal Trial Process?

We are the best criminal defense attorney in chicago for your case

when your freedom, reputation, and future are at stake contact us

WHAT SEPARATES US FROM OTHER CHICAGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE FIRMS?

We Are a Highly recommended chicago criminal defense law firm

Experience. 10+ years of experience fighting criminal charges on behalf of the accused.

Integrity. We are honest and upfront with you to ensure you understand our defense strategy.

Passion. You deserve our unwavering commitment to defend your rights.

Vision. We believe in the value of a powerful legal advocate.

Dedication. We care about your rights and are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Success. We aim to deliver the best possible outcomes for every client, every time.

Our criminal defense practice areas

contact our attorneys with any questions you may Have. We can defend most any criminal charges in the chicago area.

More Criminal Defense Practice Areas
Copyright 2019 The Law Offices of Michael P. Schmiege. All Rights Reserved. Site Design by Law Firm Innovaitons