FAQ

Do I need a lawyer?

The honest answer is yes. Unfortunately, the courts aren’t always fair in their jurisdiction, and simple misunderstandings are sometimes wrongly punished. Having a strong criminal defense at your side, no matter the charges you’re facing, will give you the best chance at a desirable outcome for your situation. Attorney Joe A. Johnson has been practicing criminal defense in North Dakota for more than 20 years and handles all levels of cases. Even if you are unsure about whether or not you want to hire a lawyer, an initial phone call won’t hurt. He offers free consultations, so call Joe Johnson today to discuss your options.

What should I do if I’ve been arrested?

When you are arrested, it’s crucial you remember that you are not required to give a statement to police or any other law enforcement agent. You do have the right to remain silent, and it’s suggested you exercise that right. You also have a right to a lawyer. If you or a loved one has been arrested, the first thing you should always do is contact a competent criminal defense lawyer who will speak on your behalf. Don’t mistakenly incriminate yourself – call attorney Joe A. Johnson first, and he will help you defend your rights in court.

What are Miranda Rights?

Miranda Rights, or Miranda Warnings, are right to silence warnings, meaning you have the right to say nothing any time prior to or during questioning. These rights are in place under the Fifth Amendment for protection against potential self-incrimination. However, just because someone chooses not to speak does not mean he or she won’t be arrested. Once the rights have been read and a suspect continues to speak freely with the cops about the situation, those statements may later be presented as evidence should the issue go to trial. Your right to remain silent is a right for a reason, so use it. If you are arrested, don’t say anything until you contact a lawyer.

What if I wasn’t read my Miranda Rights?

If an officer fails to read you the Miranda Rights at the time of your arrest, it does not mean your case will automatically be dismissed. Miranda Rights are only required to be read to a suspect if the police intend to interrogate the person they are taking into custody. Depending on the situation, an attorney may be able to argue that there was a lapse in procedure. But every situation is different, and the case of an officer failing to read your rights being beneficial to you is entirely dependent on the circumstances of your arrest. Your best bet is to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney about your case before you do anything else.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Misdemeanors are more serious crimes than infractions, but not as serious as felonies. The most serious types of crimes are felonies, and those convicted serve the harshest punishments. In North Dakota, felonies are classified into four categories: AA through C, with AA being the worst. Class AA crimes can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, and include human trafficking and murder. Misdemeanors, however, have a maximum penalty of one year in jail or prison, and can include disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony, criminal defense attorney Joe A. Johnson can help.

What is the legal limit for alcohol in North Dakota?

In North Dakota and most other states in the U.S., the legal limit for alcohol content (AC) is .08 percent while operating a vehicle. This means that if you are pulled over and you have an alcohol content of more than .08 percent, you are considered to be driving under the influence and may be arrested for DUI. North Dakota law also states that if you are in actual physical control (APC) of your vehicle and you are over the legal limit you may be charged with DUI. Drivers handling commercial vehicles have a legal limit of .04 percent, and drivers under 21 who are over the .02 percent limit may be arrested and charged with DUI.

What does APC mean?

APC, or actual physical control, means you have the potential or the means to drive or operate a vehicle. So as long as you have the potential ability to drive a vehicle, if you are over the legal alcohol limit at the time you could be arrested for DUI. Even if the car is parked and you are in the passenger’s seat, if you have the keys to the vehicle you have the potential to drive and could therefore be arrested. If you or a friend has consumed a good amount of alcohol, don’t think you can just “sleep it off” in the parking lot without getting in trouble. Don’t take chances – always find a safe way home to avoid the potential for DUI charges.

What is the process for DUI in North Dakota?

An officer that stops a driver for any legal traffic reason can look for signs that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An arrest can be made if the officer has a good reason to believe the driver is intoxicated (slurred speech, smell of alcohol on clothing or breath, etc.). Drivers have the right to be notified of their charges at the time of their arrest. The defendant will then be brought before a judge or magistrate no more than 48 hours after the arrest, and preliminary examinations will be conducted by the court to determine any criminal activity. At that point, the defendant may plead guilty to the charges or contest them by going to trial.

What are the penalties for DUI in North Dakota?

Depending on the severity of the situation, punishments for DUI and drunk driving range from suspension or revocation of their license to years of imprisonment. DUI and drunk driving crimes are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. In North Dakota, defendants charged with misdemeanor offenses cannot simply be released with a citation, and all defendants charged will be tried in a jury trial. First-time offenders may be sentenced a fine of up to $750 and a license suspension between 91 and 180 days. Second, third and fourth-time offenders face greater fines, greater lengths of license suspension and jail time. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, no matter if it’s your first or fourth offense, make sure you have a good criminal defense lawyer at your side before you do anything.

What happens if I refuse to take a chemical test?

North Dakota has an implied consent law in regards to chemical testing, meaning that if you refuse a test you will automatically be subject to fines and suspension of your license. A chemical test may be a blood test, breath test or urine test. If you refuse to take a test and this is your first offense, your license will be revoked for one year. Repeat offenders face longer revocation times. North Dakota’s implied consent law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer, you consent to taking a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) within two hours of driving. Refusal to take a test even before an arrest warrants the same penalty. If you’ve been pulled over and are suspected of driving under the influence, your best bet is to just take the test and have a lawyer help you with the consequences later.

The Law Office of Joe A. Johnson can answer all of your North Dakota criminal defense related questions. Attorney Joe Johnson has been defending clients for years, and there isn’t much he hasn’t dealt with. Call him today at (701) 297-5965 or stop by his office conveniently located in Fargo for a free consultation.