Do I need an attorney?
Yes! If you are currently facing any type of criminal charge, you absolutely need an attorney. If you have had police contact, it is likely that you are the target of an investigation and you need an attorney. If you receive an unusual phone call from a friend or family member trying to get you to admit to any criminal conduct, you need an attorney. Police officers try to obtain as much evidence as possible before charges are filed. They may come to your home without a warrant and try to convince you to “voluntarily” speak with them. They may say that they just want to get “your side of the story.” They may ask your family, friends, or the alleged victim to call you and try to get you to say something incriminating while they are recording the call. You absolutely need an attorney to protect your rights and to limit your exposure.
When should I contact an attorney?
It is always best to contact an attorney sooner rather than later. You should consult with an attorney before answering any questions by law enforcement.
If you have recently been arrested, you should immediately call an attorney. Individuals who have been arrested will see a judge within 24 hours. An attorney can be present with you at this hearing to argue for favorable release conditions and to argue against probable cause findings.
If you have not been arrested, but instead, received a summons to appear in court at a future date, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can review the case with you, preserve any pertinent evidence, and be present for your court appearances.
You should contact an attorney if you have recently been convicted or sentenced to discuss your various options on appeal. There are very specific deadlines to file a Notice of Appeal or a Notice of Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. An attorney may be able to reverse your conviction or obtain a new sentencing.
If you have received a ruling on your Appeal or your Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, you should immediately contact an attorney. There are limited time frames to file a Petition for Review of your ruling or to take the next steps on appeal. A lawyer can explain all your options and guide you through this process.
A good rule of thumb, when in doubt, contact an attorney!
Why hire a certified criminal law specialist?
Not all attorneys are created equal. There are many areas of practice and an attorney who practices bankruptcy or real estate law is not in the best position to assist you in your criminal case. Likewise, a criminal attorney who practices in another state may also not be in the best position to assist you in your criminal case. It is important to contact an Arizona attorney who practices criminal defense.
However, even criminal defense attorneys are not created equal. Elizabeth Mullins is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist. The State Bar of Arizona Board of Legal Specialization identifies lawyers who have demonstrated superior knowledge, skill, integrity, professionalism and competence in a specific area of law, to better serve the public. To obtain certification, lawyers must meet specific requirements. Many lawyers may claim they “specialize” in a particular area of law. If that lawyer is not a Board Certified Legal Specialist, then their claim is meaningless.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN HIRING A LAWYER:
Who will be handling my case?
Many large law firms have a designated attorney who only handles retentions. This attorney may do nothing more than meet with prospective clients all day, briefly discuss their case with the clients, convince the clients to hire the firm, and then will never see those clients again. Law firms may tout the accolades of its management, cite recent high profile cases, claim to have several certified specialists, or even expound upon the experience of its founding partner. But if none of those individuals are sitting next to you in trial, how does any of that matter?
At the Law Office of Elizabeth Mullins, you will meet with Elizabeth Mullins at your first appointment. She will personally handle your case from beginning to end. Your case will not be passed around the office from one less experienced attorney to the next. Your court dates will not be handled by a junior coverage attorney with no knowledge of your individual case. You will receive personalized service from Elizabeth herself from your very first call.
Do you offer free consultations?
Yes. The Law Office of Elizabeth Mullins offers free 30-minute initial consultations at her office to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have prior to making the decision to hire the firm. If your family member or friend is currently incarcerated at any jail, an initial consultation can be arranged at a cost to be applied to the total cost of representation if our firm is hired.
Do you offer payment plans?
Yes. The Law Office of Elizabeth Mullins offers payment plans on most cases. Call to schedule a free initial consultation and inquire further.
Do I need a DUI lawyer?
If you have been stopped by police for suspicion of DUI, or if you have been arrested or charged with DUI, then you absolutely need an experienced DUI attorney. DUI laws are complicated and carry extremely harsh penalties including mandatory jail, license suspensions, ignition interlock, and large fines. The sooner you contact an attorney, the more protection your attorney may be able to provide.
DUI cases typically rely heavily on blood or breath alcohol concentrations or drug tests. This “science” is frequently unreliable. However, only a skilled DUI attorney who understands these tests can show the judge or the jury that the prosecutor’s evidence is unreliable.
Because DUI cases are unique from most other criminal offenses, many criminal defense attorneys who do not regularly defend DUI cases inadvertently give their clients bad advice. Therefore, it is extremely important to hire an attorney who actually handles DUI cases, who understands DUI science, and who can protect you.
What should I do if I am contacted by police?
If you are contacted by police, you should be polite and remain calm. If you are in your car, remain in your car with your hands on the steering wheel, or otherwise visible to the officer. You are required to provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you should comply with the officer’s request.
Do not lie to the officer. Do not answer the officer’s questions. Instead, you should ask the officer if you are free to go. If the officer says you are free to go, leave. If the officer says you are not free to go, inform him or her that you want to call your attorney and will not be answering any more questions. If the officer persists, politely repeat that you want to call your attorney and will not be answering any more questions.
Do not perform any field sobriety tests. Do not perform a portable breath test. The portable breath test is a small handheld device that the officer may use on the side of the road to determine breath alcohol content. This device is not regularly calibrated and there are no penalties for refusing this test.
If you are arrested, be compliant and do not say anything other than repeating your request to speak to an attorney. While being transported to the station, do not say anything. Once at the station, you are entitled to a phone and a phone book. If you are not provided a phone and a phone book, repeat your request to call your attorney.
You may call the Law Office of Elizabeth Mullins at 602.344.9648 at any time, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. She can assist you free of charge so that you do not need to deal with the officers alone. Elizabeth can privately discuss your situation and advise you of what you should do to best protect yourself.
If the officers refuse to give you a phone, politely repeat your requests. Pay very close attention to any documents they read to you. Pay very close attention to anything they say and exercise your best judgment. Contact an attorney as soon as possible and provide the attorney with all of the information you can remember.
Don’t forget: you cannot fight the police on the street. Contact an attorney and let us fight them in the courtroom.
Do I have to perform field sobriety tests?
No. You are not required to perform field sobriety tests and you should not do them. Field sobriety tests are not reliable indicators of whether you can safely drive a car. The standardized field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (“HGN”), the walk and turn, and the one leg stand. The HGN test is an eye test where the officers are looking for an involuntary jerking of the eye, one cause of which may be alcohol consumption. The walk and turn and one leg stand tests are testing balance, coordination, and divided attention. There are additional non-standardized field sobriety tests as well: the finger to nose and the Rhomberg Modified. Both are testing for divided attention, balance, and an ability to follow instructions. None of these tests are required and there is no penalty for refusing these tests.
If you perform the field sobriety tests well, you are in an exceptionally small minority of the population. The officers will claim the tests are not “pass/fail” tests. However, if you do not perform the tests well, you “failed” the tests and provided additional evidence to the officers to use against you in your case.
Finally, officers will frequently offer a portable breath test, or PBT, on the side of the road. The PBT is a small handheld device which is not regularly calibrated. You are not required to provide a PBT sample and there are no penalties for refusing to provide a PBT sample. This is different than an Intoxilyzer test. An Intoxilyzer is a larger breath machine (about the size of a desktop printer) and its results are admissible in court. Refusal to provide a breath sample may result in a one year suspension of your license from the DMV. You should contact an attorney who can advise you if it is in your best interest to consent to a breath test on the Intoxilyzer or to refuse.
What about my license?
If you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, the officer will request a blood or breath sample. As a licensed driver, you acknowledge that it is against the law to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are suspected of driving while impaired, you must give your consent to a breath or blood test. If your breath or blood alcohol result comes back at .08 or above (.04 or above if you have a commercial driver’s license), the DMV will request a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license.
If you refuse to expressly consent to the breath or blood test, and you have no prior refusals, the DMV will request a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. A DUI attorney can request an administrative hearing from the DMV to challenge or postpone these suspensions. These hearings are not automatic and must be requested within days of your arrest. You should contact a DUI attorney as quickly as possible to discuss all your options and determine your best course of action.