Explanations and Definitions
The information on the pages in this section will help you understand what is happening with your case, what to expect, different phrases you will hear, and more.
While not a complete run-down of the entire Justice System, after reading this section you will have a much better understanding of what is happening to you now, and what will happen to you as you go along.
Advice from friends and relatives: Be very, very careful about taking advice from well-meaning or drama-soaked friends and relatives. The closest most people every get to a criminal case is NYPD Blue, Perry Mason, and Law & Order. If you want solid, experience-based advice, ask your attorney. See You and Your Attorney.
Arraignment: An arraignment is not a trial. An arraignment is where you are read the charges and asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty). It is at arraignment that the first court date is usually scheduled. You will read more about arraignments in the Instructions. You should never, ever represent yourself at your arraignment.
If you cannot afford an attorney or if you have not yet hired a private defense attorney, one will be appointed to you by the court or your arraignment will be continued until your attorney can be present.
Checks in your pocket: When you are arrested for presenting a counterfeit draft and have other, undisclosed counterfeit drafts in your pocket or purse that are discovered when you are searched, in the eyes of the arresting officer this behavior is an indication of intent to defraud.
Criminal Defense Attorneys: There are two types of criminal defense attorneys available to you: public and private. A defense attorney in the public sector is called a Public Defense Attorney or PDA and works in the Public Defender's Office. See Public Defense Attorney
You cannot obtain the services of a PDA prior to being arrested or if you can afford a private attorney. Whether you are eligible for a PDA or not varies from state to state and sometimes from county to county. Please contact your local Public Defender's Office to find out if you are eligible for public defense.
Private sector attorneys are called Criminal Defense Attorneys and it is in your best interest not to just go hunting for one in the phone book. Try to get a recommendation from friend or family or church leader. Do not try to hire an attorney who is not a Criminal Defense Attorney! A Real Estate Attorney or Business Attorney has no experience in managing a criminal case.
Most Criminal Defense Attorneys and Public Defense Attorneys have little or no experience with Nigerian and Eastern European scams. Fraud Aid does and we have tools your attorney can use to defend you. When we assist a defense attorney in this type of case, the case seldom goes to trial.
Notice I said “seldom.” It can happen, so you must be prepared for every scenario.
Please keep in mind that we DO NOT charge for our services unless your attorney needs ongoing trial strategy consultation, and it's very rare for such a situation to arise.