West Virginia Criminal Defense FAQ
Should I plead guilty to a crime? Do I need my own attorney, or can I use a court-appointed lawyer? Our FAQ page has the answers you need after you have been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor offense in West Virginia. Browse or search our FAQ to get help.
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The police have asked me to talk to them about something or have asked me to answer some questions. What should I do? Do I have to speak with them?
The answer to this question is simple: No. Police officers and other members of investigative law enforcement have every right to ask you to speak with them about anything. It is your right not to talk or answer questions they may have for you.
The job of a law enforcement official is important and should not be discounted. Members of law enforcement should be respected because they have committed themselves to protecting you and the community. Still, if you are confronted by an officer and are uncomfortable speaking about any matter, regardless of whether you know anything or not, simply tell the officer that you are unwilling to speak with them without the assistance of an attorney. No one is above the law, and the Constitution of the United States commands that law enforcement officials cease questioning upon the request of legal counsel.
What is going to happen to me? Am I going to go to jail?
This questions is the one most often asked by clients who have been criminally accused. Obviously, the question is common because the answer to the question is the very reason clients chose to retain an attorney. However, the Rules of Professional Conduct applicable to lawyers prevent this office from answering this question in certain terms. First, if you are not yet a client, but merely exploring this option, William T. Nestor, PLLC will not provide you with any information on this topic whatsoever. However, if you choose our office we will work extremely hard to make sure that incarceration is avoided by all means permissible and expected under the laws of the State of West Virginia and the United States, if possible.
I had been indicted by the State of West Virginia. What does that mean and what should I expect?
You have been indicted for a crime, not convicted of crime. In that capacity, and during a meeting of the grand jury, approximately twelve of sixteen people felt there was probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that you were somehow involved with it.
Although at least twelve members of the grand jury felt that probable cause existed, probable cause warrants only further investigation of this matter by virtue of initiating a formal criminal prosecution. The fact that you have been indicted for a crime has no bearing on whether you will ultimately be convicted for that crime. Instead, the indictment has merely compelled you to answer for your implication in a certain matter of public concern. In order to be convicted of the crime for which you have been indicted, a twelve person jury must be unanimously convinced that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Unlike the proceeding that caused you to be indicted, you will have an opportunity to cross examine the witnesses, as well as exclude certain testimony and evidence that was considered by the grand jury in their decision to indict you.
It is important to note that a grand jury is exposed to a great deal of testimony and evidence that would not otherwise be allowed during the trial of the case. During grand jury proceedings there are virtually no safeguards or procedures in place to ensure that the testimony and evidence presented is accurate, or that it came from honest people. In short, the jury in the criminal trial will hear both sides of a story, instead of just one.