1. Arrest is presumed to be false; officer has the burden of proof
The only thing the plaintiff needs to plead and to prove is either (1) that the defendant made an arrest or imprisonment, or (2) that the defendant affirmatively instigated, encouraged, incited, or caused the arrest or imprisonment. Burlington v. Josephson, 153 Fed.2d 372,276 (1946).
When the plaintiff has shown that he was arrested, imprisoned or restrained of his liberty by the defendant, "the law presumes it to be unlawful." People v. McGrew, 20 Pac. 92 (1888); Knight v. Baker, 133 P. 544(1926).
"The burden is upon the defendant to show that the arrest was by authority of law." McAleer v. Good, 65 Atl. 934, 935 (1907); Mackie v. Ambassador, 11 P.2d 6 (1932).
"Any arrest made without a warrant, if challenged by the defendant, is presumptively invalid...the burden is upon the state" to justify it as authorized by statute, and as not violative of constitutional provisions. State v. Mastrian, 171 N.W.2d 695 (1969); Butler v. State, 212 So.2d 577 (Miss 1968)
"As in the case of illegal arrests, the officer ... must keep within the law at his peril." Thiede v. Scandia, 217 Minn. 231, 14 N.W.2d 400 (1944).
2. Must show warrant upon request
"He must show it to the accused, if requested to do so." Smith v. State, 208 S.2d 747 (Miss., 1968).
"If demanded, he must produce the warrant and read it to the accused, that he may know by what authority and for what cause he is deprived of his liberty." State v. Shaw, 89 S.E. 322 (1916).
"An accused person, if he demands it, is entitled to have the warrant for his arrest shown to him at the time of arrest." 42 L.R.A. 682, 51 L.R.A. 211, Crosswhite v. Barnes, 124 S.E. 242, 245 (1924).
"A special deputy is bound to show his warrant if requested to do so, and if he omit, the party against whom the warrant is may resist an arrest, and the warrant under such circumstances is no protection against an action for an assault, battery and false imprisonment." Frost v. Thomas, 24 Wendell's Rep. (N.Y.) 418, 419 (1840).
“It is doubtless the duty of an officer who executes a warrant of arrest to state the nature and substance of the process which gives him the authority he professes to exercise, and, if it is demanded, to exhibit his warrant, that the party arrested may have no excuse for resistance.” Shovlon v. Com., 106 Pa. 369, 5 Am. Crim. Rep. 41 (1884)
“It was the duty of an officer who attempts to make an arrest to exhibit the warrant if he has one.” Jones v. State, 114 Ga. 79, 39 S.E. 861 (1901)
3. Warrant must be valid
A constable justifying an imprisonment under a warrant must show that the warrant on its face is legal, and that the magistrate had jurisdiction of the subject-matter. 51 L.R.A. 197, Poulk v. Slocum, 3 Blackfords (Ind). 421.
A warrant is regarded as insufficient and thus void if, on its face, it fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a crime. Wharton’s Crim. Proc., 12th Ed., vol. 1, p. 152 (1974).
4. No rubber-stamp “signature”
“The United States Supreme Court ... stressed the need for ‘individualized review’ to avoid the issuance of ‘rubber stamp’ warrants.” State v. Paulick, 277 Minn. 140, 151 N.W.2d 596 (1967).
5. False arrest is assault and battery
"An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right, and only the same right, to use force in defending himself as he would have in repelling any other assault and battery.” State v. Robinson, 72 Atl.2d 262 (1950).
"An arrest without warrant is a trespass, an unlawful assault upon the person ... where one is about to be unlawfully deprived of his liberty he may resist the aggressions of the offender, whether of a private citizen or a public officer, to the extent of taking the life of the assailant, if that be necessary to preserve his own life, or prevent infliction upon him of some great bodily harm.” State v. Gum, 69 S.E. 464 (1910).
Every person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest ... and, in preventing such illegal restraint of his liberty, he may use such force as may be necessary.” Columbus v. Holmes, 152 N.E.2d 306 (1958).
6. No handcuffs (sorry, OSHA)
“But a constable cannot justify handcuffing a prisoner unless he has attempted to escape, or unless it be necessary in order to prevent his doing so.” 51 L.R.A. 216.
“The handcuffing was utterly unlawful.” Osborn v. Veitch 1 Foster & Fin Eng Rep 317.
7. Go immediately to magistrate (no photographs, no fingerprinting)
The one arresting has “a duty to immediately seek a magistrate,” and failure to do so “makes a case of false imprisonment.” Heath v. Boyd, 175 S.W.2d. 217 (1943); Brock v. Stimson, 108 Mass. 520 (1871).
"To detain the person arrested in custody for any purpose other than that of taking him before a magistrate is illegal.” Kominsky v. Durand, 12 Atl.2d. 654 (1940).
"Any undue delay is unlawful and wongful, and renders the officer himself and all persons aiding and abetting therein wrongdoers from the beginning.” Ulvestad v. Dolphin, 278 Pac. 684 (1929).
"The taking of the plaintiff’s picture before conviction was an illegal act.” Hawkins v. Kuhne, 137 NY Supp 1090, 153 App Div 216 (1912).
"The power to arrest does not confer upon the arresting officer the power to detain a prisoner for other purposes.” Geldon v. Finnegan, 252 N.W. 372 (1934).
"Compulsory fingerprinting before conviction is an unlawful encroachment...[and] involves prohibited compulsory self-incrimination.” People v. Helvern, 215 N.Y. Supp. 417 (1926)
A warrant must be issued and signed (no rubber stamp) by a judge who has jurisdiction. It must state the facts showing jurisdiction. It must be based upon probable cause. It must name the offense committed. It must contain an affidavit (under oath) by the accuser, stating facts constituting a crime. It must name the person to be arrested, or describe him sufficiently to identify him. You must show me the warrant and the affidavit upon request. No handcuffs. You must take me immediately before a magistrate, and hold me for no other purpose (no photographs, no fingerprinting). You are responsible for everything that happens to me even if you relinquish custody. Unlawful arrest is assault, battery & trespass. There is no immunity in a false arrest case. Good faith is not a defense.
This article lays out five strategies that many have found useful in fighting traffic tickets they received. These tickets range from speeding tickets, to tickets for running red lights captured by a red light camera.
1. Dispute the Police Officer's Personal Opinion
Police officers often cite drivers for making unsafe turns or driving unsafely down a road. These tickets require the officer to put down his personal opinion and come to a subjective conclusion about what happened. If you have received a ticket where the officer needed to exercise some sort of personal judgment about the situation, you may be able to challenge that judgment. For example, suppose you were cited with an unsafe lane change while driving on the highway. If you show up to fight the ticket, you can argue that your lane change was safe given the weather and traffic conditions at that time. To further support your argument, you could point out that the police officer was in front of you during the lane change, and that, due to the heavy traffic conditions, the officer most likely was paying more attention to the road in front of him rather than a car changing lanes behind him.
Subjective tickets are also issued in some states that have leave it up to the police officer to determine whether a driver is driving at a safe speed. These speeding tickets are often challenged by those who are cited. In states that have such laws, the posted speed limit is not the clear-cut law, and a driver has the discretion to travel at a speed that is safe given the traffic conditions. If you have received a speeding ticket for going above the posted speed limit in such a state, you may be able to challenge the officer's opinion by proving that your speed was safe given the conditions. As an example, if an officer cites you for going 75 mph in a posted 65 mph zone, you may argue that your speed was safe because all of the cars in your lane were also traveling at 75 mph, and thus, it would be unsafe to drive at or below 65 mph.
2. Dispute the Police Officer's Presentation of Evidence
There are yet other types of tickets where the police officer's judgment cannot be called into question. These tickets generally have to do with tickets that are clear cut, like running through a stop sign or making an illegal U-turn. Here, challenging a ticket involves challenging whether or not the officer saw you perform the ticketed action. The results of these types of cases will generally boil down to who the judge believes, and you, as the driver, will often have a high burden to overcome. However, there are certain types of arguments and evidence that you can present that may help your case by calling into question the officer's observations.
Some of the best arguments and evidence to present in such a situation are:Eyewitness statements from passengers, other drivers on the road or pedestrians that will confirm your story.Diagrams, diagrams, diagrams. The more clearly you can show where your car was in relation to the officer's car at the time of the citation, the more robust an argument you can make. For instance, a great diagram would show that the officer could not have seen you run a red light because he was trailing you too far behind to see whether or not your car was in the intersection at the time the light turned red.Photographs of the scene of the alleged traffic violation. Photographs can help you if, for example, they demonstrate your claim that a stop sign was obscured by an overhanging limb, or show that a traffic light was out of power at a certain time of day.
3. Present Evidence that the Traffic Violation was a "Mistake of Fact"
In most jurisdictions, the judge hearing your case will be allowed to come to their own decision regarding the traffic ticket if presented with the right evidence. For certain types of tickets, like running a stop sign, you may be allowed to present evidence that you should not be required to pay the ticket because you made a "mistake of fact."
Mistakes of fact are mistakes made by drivers about the situation. To clarify, it helps to look at a few examples. First, it would be a mistake of fact if you were driving in two lanes because the lane markers were so worn down by use that you could not see them. Second, it would be a mistake of fact to make an illegal right turn because wind had recently blown down the no right turn sign.
Often, a judge will toss out a ticket that has been issued against you if you can show that you had inadequate notice. For example, if you regularly drive a stretch of road everyday and one day are ticketed for running a stop sign that was installed the previous day, you can argue that you had insufficient notice about the new sign, and that you made a mistake of fact. However, if the stop sign was up long enough for you to be aware of it, or if you never drove that stretch of road before, or if you were driving recklessly and failed to see the sign, you would probably not win this argument.
4. Argue that Your Driving Was Justified
Another way to fight traffic tickets is not to deny or point out mistakes in the ticketing process, but rather to admit to the illegal driving but present another fact that makes the illegal driving justified and allowable. This is a great way to fight a ticket because you do not have to dispute the officer's statement or the charge in the ticket, but rather show circumstances that necessitated your driving.
For instance, if you were ticketed for driving too quickly on the highway, you may present evidence that you were passing a car that you thought had a drunk driver. In this situation, your speeding may be warranted as you were trying to prevent an accident that may have caused a multi-car pile up. However, this defense would be negated if the officer could prove that you kept your high speed even after passing the other vehicle on the road.
As another example, if you are ticketed for changing lanes recklessly and stopping on a highway, you may be able to fight the ticket by showing that you felt waves of dizziness and felt like fainting while driving. You pulled over your car and stopped as soon as you could so as to avoid passing out while driving. A judge could very well agree that your conduct was legally justified and throw out the ticket.
5. Argue that Your Ticketed Driving Was Necessary to Prevent Harm
This defense is much like the one above in that you are trying to show that your ticketed driving was necessary in order to prevent immediate harm to you or others. Speeding on the highway in order to prevent an accident is a prime example. Another example is swerving dangerously in order to prevent hitting a pedestrian who has fallen off a sidewalk and into the lane you are driving in. The key to this argument is to show a judge that, if you had not taken the action you did, someone would have been seriously hurt.
Decide Whether the Ticket Is Worth Fighting First off, decide whether it's worth your time to fight a ticket. It's certainly possible, but fighting traffic tickets can take a lot of time and effort and may not be worth it in the long run. If a ticket means thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, however, it may be very worthwhile to fight it.Understand the Law You Are Alleged to Have Violated
Most police officers don't really know the letter of the law - after all that's what attorneys are for. An easy first step in fighting traffic tickets is to read the exact law you're alleged to have violated, and break it down into elements. Once you've broken the law down into its components, if you can show that your behavior didn't meet the exact prohibitions contained in the law, then you've gone a good ways towards showing that youhaven't violated the law at all. Here's an actual stop sign law, with brackets to separate different elements of the law:
"[A person] [operating a human-powered vehicle] [approaching a stop sign shall slow down] and, [if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection]. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, [the person shall yield the right-of-way to] [any vehicle] [in the intersection] or [approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across] or [within the intersection or junction of highways], [except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping]."
Some elements you can't really challenge (you are a person after all), but notice that stopping isn't actually required! It's only necessary if it is "required for safety" and the law explicitly allows you to "cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping".
Chances are good that the police officer wrote down something like "rolled through intersection without a complete stop". You can easily go into court, lay out the law, and demonstrate that you never violated the law in the first place. Will a judge accept this? Absolutely. This is precisely what lawyers do, they break down laws into elements and try to prove that some element wasn't met. Remember, you're innocent until proven guilty. Don't Pay the Ticket, It's Often an Admission of Guilt
When you first get your ticket, do not pay it. In almost all jurisdictions, paying the fine is an admission of guilt. Instead, find out how you can get your day in court. Consider Traffic School
Many jurisdictions offer an option to attend traffic school. In return, your charges will be dismissed or reduced. Explore this option by researching the law in your state. If you find that traffic school is a good option, request it from the prosecutor or judge. Common Defenses to a Traffic Ticket
There are several typical defenses used when fighting traffic tickets. Many of the defenses below are based on your constitutional right to question the accuser .
The Officer Doesn't Show Up
The easiest way to win is to have the police officer not show up. Because you have a constitutional right to question the accuser, if the officer doesn't show, you will typically automatically win. How can you increase your chances of getting a no show? Postponing the court date can significantly increase the odds that the officer will not be present during the trial. Never go with the date on your ticket. That's usually a "gang date" for the officer, where the officer has scheduled all of his or her court dates at once. If you schedule for an extension that falls on a different day, chances are they aren't going to come in on their day off just for you. Try to choose a court date that is closer to the holidays or summer vacation days - this might increase the odds of your officer being out on vacation.
Camera Tickets and Hearsay
People often think that there's little they can do with a camera based ticket, but they're amazingly easy to beat. Here are some tips: Courthouses will rarely go through the trouble of bringing the video or picture to court, usually resulting in an automatic dismissal of the ticket. Even if they do, there is no human subject to question other than the officer who viewed the tape. The second the officer opens his mouth, you just object "hearsay". Hearsay is the equivalent of "so and so told me", which courts consider unreliable evidence. After all, the officer didn't actually see you do anything, rather the officer is relying on the observations of someone/something else. As a result, the officer can't testify as to what you did wrong and obviously neither can the camera. It takes courage to do this, but it can work.
Trial by Declaration
In many states, you are entitled to a trial by mail. You submit your claim as to why you are innocent in a letter, and the officer must do the same. While officers will often show up for court because it is an overtime opportunity, trial by mail is pure paperwork, and they will often not bother to submit their side of the story. When this happens, you win by default. Should you lose by mail, you have lost nothing: you can still request an in-person trial, request traffic school, or pay your fine.
The Sixth Amendment Requires a Speedy and Public Trial
The sixth amendment guarantees you a speedy and public trial, and this can be an easy basis to avoid a ticket. For example, in California, a speedy trial is defined as 45 days from the time of the infraction. In many jurisdictions you must go to the courthouse in person to get a court date. Among those legal documents you are asked to sign, will be one in which you waive your right to a speedy trial. Do not sign this document. You cannot be legally forced to waive this right. What this means is that if the court system cannot fit you in, within those 45 days, (times for your state may vary) then your case must be dismissed.
Tickets Based on Radar Guns
Most radar guns need to be recalibrated every 30-60 days, and due to ignorance, lack of funding, or laziness, they rarely are. One solid argument for your case is to prove that the measurement device is faulty. In some states the officer must check the calibration after issuing the ticket - usually by using two tuning forks held in front of the radar, which vibrate at the frequencies for 35 mph and 55 mph. Verify whether this was done and documented.
Check Your Ticket for Errors
While courts will often excuse minor errors on a ticket – a misspelled name or whether your car color is maroon or dark red – if the officer cites the wrong law on the ticket, or grossly misidentifies the highway or your make of car, you may to get your ticket dismissed. Defenses That Don't Work
The following is a short list of common defenses people often make when fighting traffic tickets that just don't work:
You claim ignorance of the law. It doesn't matter how honestly you misunderstood what was required, it won't work.
You argue that no one was hurt. The no-harm-no-foul rule doesn't apply in court. The only exception is whether safety is part of the law itself, and you can argue that obviously you operated your vehicle safely because no one was hurt.
You complain that the officer selected you alone out of a dozen other potential violators. Admitting that you were in fact guilty, but that there were other guilty people present doesn't help you. You can win a "selective enforcement" defense, but it's very hard to do and requires that you demonstrate the officer had a specific and improper motive to pick on you. For instance if you filed a report against the officer and he just happened to pull you over the next day with a dozen other violators nearby, you may win.
You give the judge a sad story. It doesn't work, judges hear this all day long and may doubt your honesty. At best this will slightly reduce your fine.
You claim the officer is lying. Between you and the police officer, the judge is more likely to believe the officer. Unless you have specific proof, it won't work.
Miranda Warnings and Police Questioning + Through pop culture, TV and movies, most Americans know that in some cases the police are obligated to "read you your rights". Most of us can recall at least the beginning of a typical Miranda warning as easily as recalling the pledge of allegiance. What most Americans don't know, however, is exactly what their Miranda rights are and when they apply.
In 2010, the US Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that modified the rules surrounding Miranda rights. These decisions have significantly affected the circumstances under which Miranda protections apply, so it's a good idea to reexamine the rules for Miranda warnings.Your Miranda Rights
The Miranda warnings originated in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, which set forth the following warning and accompanying rights:You have the right to remain silent;Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.Variations on Traditional Miranda Warnings
You might notice that the last two points from above are often omitted in pop culture references. In fact, many states have their own particular variation of Miranda requirements that their police officers must use, so the language differs slightly from one police department to another.
The most common addition to these core Miranda rights has been to end the traditional warning with a question along the lines of "do you understand these rights as they have been read to you". A suspect must affirmatively respond that they understand these rights - courts will not interpret silence as a sufficient acknowledgment of the Miranda warning.
The US Supreme Court firmly established this principle in a 2010 decision. In that case, a murder suspect refused to sign an acknowledgment of his Miranda rights, then later made statements that were used against him in his conviction for the crime.
The Court ruled that the burden was on the suspect to invoke his Miranda rights, and his failure to sign the acknowledgment essentially amounted to a waiver of those rights. Miranda Warnings Don't Always Apply
There are two very basic prerequisites before the police must issue a Miranda warning to a suspect:The suspect is in police custodyThe suspect is under interrogation
It's crucial to understand these prerequisites because if you aren't formally in police custody, and you aren't being interrogated, the police don't have to give you a Miranda warning. This, in turn, means that the police can use anything you say until those two requirements are fulfilled as evidence against you.Police Custody
"Police custody" is generally defined as anytime the police deprive you of your freedom of action in a significant way. Realistically though, it means being arrested. Some jurisdictions treat detentions differently than arrests, though, and a Miranda warning isn't required in such a situation.
Generally speaking, an actual arrest must take place before the police need to give you a Miranda warning. This means that simple things such as traffic stops or a police officer walking up to you and asking you questions are not considered police custody. When in doubt, just stay silent (except for the exception about identification discussed below).Police Interrogation
Finally it's worth noting that the warning must come before you are being interrogated, so until the interrogation has begun, you are not necessarily owed a Miranda warning. A request for identification is generally not considered an interrogation, nor have the police placed you into custody simply by asking about your identity. In general, you must always give a police officer identification.
Once police officers begin asking questions that may implicate involvement in a crime, however, an interrogation has begun.
In another 2010 case, the US Supreme Court refined the rules for police interrogations. In that case, the Court ruled that police officers could initiate a second interrogation of a suspect who had previously invoked his Miranda right to remain silent once two weeks had elapsed from the date of the original interrogation. The police did not have to give the suspect another Miranda warning, according to the Supreme Court. The Court decided that the Miranda warning from the previous interrogation remained in effect, thus the statements the suspect gave during the second interrogation constituted a waiver of his right to silence.Failing to Provide a Miranda Warning
If the police fail to make you aware of your Miranda rights, nothing said in response to a custodial interrogation can be used against you. In addition, any evidence that is derived from that improper custodial interrogation is also inadmissible.
For instance, if the police fail to make you aware of your Miranda rights and questioning you leads them to a murder weapon, that weapon and the contents of that interrogation are both inadmissible unless they can show that they would have found the weapon without your statements.Physical and Psychological Intimidation
Information that you voluntarily offer to a police officer after receiving a proper Miranda warning is generally admissible in court. Police officers are not allowed to use physical or psychological intimidation to get you to make a statement, however. TV favorites such as hours spent under a bright light or sleep deprivation render the statement involuntary, and not admissible in court.What to Say and Not Say If You Are Arrested
People often blurt out admissions in the heat of the moment or let the police bait them into admissions. The best advice if you are arrested is quite simple: Be cooperative, be polite, provide identification, but say nothing other than to request a lawyer.
When someone is arrested by the police, a specific series of events follows. The police must follow legal procedures during the actual arrest process, and at many other stages along the way to actually placing a suspect in jail.
An arrest occurs when police take you into custody and is complete the moment you, as the suspect, are no longer free to walk away from the arresting officer.
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona, that individuals who are under arrest for suspicion of having committed a crime have certain rights that must be explained to them before any questioning may occur. The rights are designed to protect your right to be free from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are five different rights, known as the "Miranda Rights":You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions. Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law.You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
Note: Miranda rights must only be read when an individual is in police custody and is under interrogation. Therefore, if the police stop you to give you a traffic ticket, and you start explaining to them why you were speeding, you cannot later protest that you were not read your Miranda rights. While the police may have been "interrogating" you in a certain sense, you were not in police custody.
If you are stopped by the police, they may frisk you by performing a "pat-down" of your outer clothing in order to determine if you are concealing a weapon. Later, after your arrest, they may perform a full-blown search of your person and immediate surroundings to ensure that you do not have any weapons, stolen items, contraband, or evidence of a crime. If the police take possession of your car, it may be searched as well.
In many jurisdictions, you have the right to make a telephone call, or calls, once you are placed into custody. In some states, you are only allowed to call someone in order to secure a lawyer or to arrange for bail, although you may be able to call a family member or friend to help you make those arrangements. Generally, you are not entitled to make a telephone call until after you have been booked.
The police may take any personal property or money that you have with you and put it in a safe place after performing an inventory. The police will ask you to sign the inventory and, after reviewing it, you should do so if you agree with the contents of the inventory.
Once you are arrested, you will be booked. During the booking procedure the police will ask you for basic information about yourself (such as your address and birthdate), and fingerprint and photograph you. You may also be asked to participate in a line-up, give a handwriting sample or do similar things.
If you are detained but not booked within a reasonable period of time (usually several hours, or overnight) your attorney may go to a judge and obtain a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is an order issued by the court instructing the police to bring you before the court so that a judge may decide if you are being lawfully held.
Once you are arrested by the police, the information will be provided to the appropriate prosecutor's office. The prosecutor will then review the information before making an independent decision as to what charges should be filed.
Note: If you have been arrested for a felony, a prosecutor may enlist the services of a grand jury to review the available information in order to determine what crimes you should actually be charged with.
If you are placed in custody, you have the right to a "speedy trial," which usually means that the prosecutor must decide within 72 hours which charges, if any, will be filed. A prosecutor is not bound by the initial charge decision, but may later change the crimes with which you will be charged once more evidence is obtained.
Note: The required time in which a prosecutor must make a charge decision varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. While many state laws require the decision to be made within 72 hours, other states, such as California, require that the decision be made within 48 hours after you are taken into custody.
You will have an appearance in court called an arraignment at which point the charges against you will be read and you will be asked whether you plead guilty or not guilty.
Note: A third possible type of response to an indictment is that of "nolo contendere" or "no contest." Nolo contendere is not strictly a plea, but means that you do not contest the charges made by the government. The plea of nolo contendere cannot be used in other aspects of the criminal trial as an admission of guilt, but can be used only in the indictment phase as an implied confession of the specific offense charged and an admission of the facts stated in the indictment. A plea of nolo contendere is only accepted by a judge if they feel that it is being made voluntarily and intelligently.
If you are placed in jail, you may be able to get out prior to your trial if you "post bail." Bail is money you pay to the court in order to ensure that you will appear in court when told to do so. If you do appear as required, the bail will be refunded to you. If you do not show up, the court keeps the money and can issue a warrant for your arrest.Bail may be paid in cash or in a cash equivalent. You may also be allowed, depending upon the circumstances, to post a bond. A bond is a guarantee of payment of the full bail amount should the need arise. In other situations, you may be allowed to be "released on one's own recognizance." This means that the payment of bail is waived on condition that you appear in court when required. This is generally only used in crimes which are minor in nature or where the judge is of the opinion that you are a trustworthy individual who is unlikely to flee the jurisdiction.Not every arrested individual is entitled to bail. In particularly heinous crimes, or where there is a risk that the defendant will flee the jurisdiction or harm members of the public, bail may be denied and the defendant will be kept in jail as a "pre-trial detainee." You may also be considered a "pre-trial detainee" if you are unable to post bail for your release.The judge is responsible for setting your bail. In many jurisdictions, there is a pre-set schedule listing the bail amounts for particular crimes. In other situations, bail may be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive.
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