The Law Offices of
Noel D. Cooper
117 North Street,
Suite 2
Nacogdoches, Texas
75961
(936) 564-9000
(936) 715-6022 (fax)
The Law Offices of Noel D. Cooper
(936) 564-9000
Copyright © 2007-2011
Noel D. Cooper.
Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I really need a criminal defense lawyer?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.  Neither
police officers nor prosecutors have a legal duty to act in your best interest.  
There is an old proverb:  The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a
client.  In other words, it is in your best interest to have someone on your side
who is cool, calm, and experienced, who does not have any personal interest
at stake, only your best interests.  As the Texas Lawyer's Creed states, "A
lawyer shall not be deterred by any real or imagined fear of judicial disfavor or
public unpopularity, nor be influenced by mere self-interest."

If I have a lawyer, won't that make me look guilty?
You have an absolute right to the assistance of counsel if you are being
charged with a crime.  Also, if you are the target of a criminal investigation,
you may be contacted directly regarding your alleged involvement in a crime,
and you have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning.  

You have a
right to an attorney.  If anyone has a problem with that, they
should take it up with the Supreme Court of the United States.  

What should I do if I am pulled over by the police?
If you hear the siren and see the red light in your rear view mirror pull to
the side of the road as soon as you can do so safely and turn off the
engine.  Do not get out of the car, but roll down your window and remain
seated with both hands on the steering wheel.  When the officer
approaches your window you will probably be asked to produce your
driver's license and proof of your automobile insurance.  

Remember to BE POLITE!  Do not argue with, verbally abuse, or touch the
police officer.   After examining your license and proof of insurance, the officer
will likely tell you the reason why you were pulled over and you may be asked
some questions.  If you decide to answer additional questions, remember,
anything you say may be used against you.

Whenever you have been contacted by a police officer, assume that your
conversation and your movements are being recorded.  Many law
enforcement agencies equip their officers with sophisticated recording
devices.  If you would not want a jury to hear how you talked to the police
officer or how you acted, then don't say it or do it.  

If a police officer asks for my permission to search my person, house,
or car, do I have to consent to the search?
NO.  You do not have to consent to any search of yourself, your car, or your
home.  If you DO consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court.
If the police say they have a search warrant, ASK TO SEE IT.  However, if
the officer has probable cause or a search warrant, they will search your
vehicle or home regardless of your consent.  

If I am arrested, can police officers use force to arrest me?
Yes.  You should not resist arrest, even if you think you are innocent.  A
police officer may use as much force as is necessary to arrest you.
Unreasonable force is assault.  On the other hand, resisting arrest may
constitute a felony offense.  After arrest, a police officer may handcuff you if
you attempt to escape or the officer considers it necessary to prevent you
from escaping.

What is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)?
DWI occurs when someone is operating, or is in actual physical control, of
a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled
substance to the extent that their mental faculties are impaired and/or
their blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.  Even for a first offense,
penalties can include driver's license suspension, substantial fines, and
incarceration.  In addition, it typically results in higher insurance
premiums and an offender may become ineligible for credit.

If I am arrested on suspicion of drunk driving will I lose my license?
If you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving your driver's license is
definitely at risk.  In addition related to suspensions for DWI convictions,
Texas law allows for an administrative suspension of persons who are
arrested for DWI and refuse to provide a sample of their breath or blood.   
The suspension is longer if you refuse to provide a sample than if you
provide a sample but fail.  However, you have a right to request a hearing
on the administrative suspension of your driver's licence.  Should your
license be suspended, in some cases, it is possible to petition the court
to allow you to drive to and from work, school, or medical appointments.

If I refuse to provide a sample of my breath or blood, can I still be
convicted?
Yes.  Prosecutors were obtaining convictions in drunk driving cases long
before breath and blood testing was available. In some cases, refusing a
blood or breath test will not greatly improve your prospects at trial, and any
minor benefit it may produce is usually overwhelmed by the many other
harsh consequences it brings.

What is a plea bargain?
Not all criminal cases result in a trial.  Many times, the prosecution and
the defense have reached an agreement to resolve the case.  However,
successful plea negotiations require knowledge of the law.  This is why it
is very important to have a criminal law lawyer representing you if you plan
to negotiate a plea.  A criminal attorney considers many factors in
deciding whether to recommend a plea bargain for a client and what
strategies to engage if a plea bargain is the best choice for the client's
situation.