Frequently Asked Questions
The legal process can be very confusing for many who do not have intimate knowledge on the subject, especially at a time when you are stressed out and worried about a pending charge. The information contained in this section is not intended as legal advice, but should be used to answer basic questions concerning criminal defense. Anything beyond what is contained in here should be discussed in detail with a qualified criminal defense attorney.Mesa Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a criminal offense in Arizona, you most likely have a great deal of questions and concerns. James Novak of the Law Office of James E. Novak is dedicated to providing informative legal counsel to all clients. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 for a free consultation to discuss the issues of your particular case in depth.
- How far are you willing to travel for a case?
- What geographical areas do your clients typically come from?
- Which features of you law firm distinguish it from others?
- What are your office hours?
- How and when can I get a copy of my police report?
- When do I need to hire a criminal lawyer for my DUI or criminal charges?
- Do I need to hire a DUI Attorney or Criminal Lawyer? Why or why not?
- Should I hire a private criminal defense attorney or get a public defender?
- What is an Arraignment?
- How should I plea at my Arraignment? What are my plea options?
- What happens if I plead Guilty? No Contest? Not Guilty?
How far are you willing to travel for a case?
We are willing to travel to any of the city courts, justice courts, or superior courts within Maricopa County. This includes the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale. We also advertise our service to the Phoenix Metro Valley.
What geographical areas do your clients typically come from?
We help clients from Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale. The office is located in Tempe, and our clients typically travel between 1 to 20 miles to our office.
Which features of the Law Office of James Novak distinguish it from other law firms?
Personalized Service – When a potential client calls, we will provide a free and honest consultation on your pending charge.
Experienced Representation – When we accept a case, we handle EVERY aspect of the case, including: investigation, gathering evidence, conducting depositions, interviewing witnesses and police, tailoring a defense strategy, filing motions, presenting compelling argument in court or trial and communicating with the judge and prosecution.
Accessibility - We realize the importance of any criminal charge on a person’s life, and we treat it as a priority. We do not redirect our clients to a screener or assistant, because if we are taking care of your case, we will do all that we can to provide excellent service in an accessible manner
Affordable Flat Fees – Our fees are some of the most competitive in Maricopa County. We charge only flat affordable fees, which cover exactly what we need to do our job successfully. This fee includes labor, cost of testing, retaining expert witness testimony (doctors, toxicologists, reconstuctionists, etc.). Our firm is small and dedicated to our clients, so the exorbitant overhead common in larger firms is negligible for us, allowing for more affordable representations.
Former Prosecutor – As a former state prosecutor, James Novak has gained a vast amount of trial and litigation experience in most areas of criminal law. He is familiar with what can and cannot be done by the prosecution in an effort to gain the best outcome for his clients.
Familiarity – Being exclusive to Maricopa County, the Law Office of James E. Novak has personal relationships and acquaintances with many of the judges, prosecutors and police in the area. James Novak has been able to gain mutual respect and credibility with these individuals due to his presence in the county court system.
What are your office hours?
The Law Office of James Novak is open from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM. We are on call at (480) 413-1499, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If your call is outside of traditional office hours, we check our messages frequently and may be able to get back to you at those times as well.
How and when can I get a copy of my police report?
You can obtain a complete copy of the police report for your incident from your criminal defense lawyer after you have retained them. If you are not represented by a criminal lawyer in Maricopa County, you can request the police report yourself. You can either call or write to the police department in the city or municipality where you received the charges or were arrested. The police department record’s division will let you know what else is needed to obtain the report, and when it will be available for release to you.
It generally takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before it is ready. Most police departments charge a small fee for the report. This is one of the first things that we will do once retained. We will take care of the fee for the report and request a complete copy of the report, in addition to any transcripts from 911 dispatches if applicable in your case.
When do I need to hire a criminal lawyer for my DUI or criminal charges?
If you have been charged, arrested or you are under investigation for a DUI or criminal charges in Maricopa County, you should consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the very least you should contact them to discuss your charges and defense options. Once retained, your criminal lawyer should begin working on your case immediately.
By hiring your attorney early, you are allowing them the time needed to tailor and build you a strong defense. In some cases, if you are under investigation for serious criminal charges, the defense attorney can offer “pre-indictment” or “pre-charge” defense services. In both situations, your attorney will make sure your rights are protected as well as prevent the prosecution from attempting to obtain information from you that may harm your defense. If you are contacted by an investigator or police requesting information, it is usually for the purpose of strengthening their prosecution’s case by obtaining information or evidence against you.
Do I need to hire a DUI Attorney or Criminal Lawyer? Why or why not?
If you face criminal or DUI charges in Maricopa County, you should hire an Arizona criminal lawyer who defends cases in the city where you were charged as soon as possible. There are very few Arizona criminal charges for which you would not need an AZ criminal lawyer to defend you. Arizona has some of the toughest DUI and criminal laws in the country. The laws are strict and the penalties are severe. If you do not hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, your freedom and future are at risk. The criminal justice system in Arizona is complex and can be overwhelming for most people. If you do not retain a criminal defense lawyer, you are not given any leniency or “breaks” by the court or judge. You will be held to the same standards, procedures of law, and court protocol as if you were represented by an attorney.
Arizona DUI & Criminal legislation and case law is constantly changing. You need to understand how to use the Arizona law in your favor. You need an objective third party’s voice to “tell your side of the story” and provide a defense on your behalf. The most successful and experienced DUI & criminal defense attorneys in Arizona would hire their own criminal defense lawyer to defend their DUI or criminal charges.
Should I hire a private criminal defense attorney or get a public defender?
The major difference between public defenders and private attorneys are that public defense attorneys are under contract either with the state, county or governing entity. This means that they are obligated to defend a certain amount and type of cases under the terms of their contract, for defendants who are unable to afford a private attorney. A defendant must qualify for public defense, and it is not always free. If eligible, based on lack of financial resources, the court will appoint a defense attorney. Keep in mind that in some cases the defendant or client may still be required to pay a portion of the public defender’s or contract attorney’s fees.
In Maricopa County, the public defenders carry heavy case loads. At least 50,000 cases each year are handled by a handful of attorneys. They generally do not have a choice on the number of cases they are assigned to handle. This and budget restraints often result in heavy workloads, understaffing of attorneys or administrative assistance, and a reduction of time a defense attorney can spend working each case. This ultimately can have an adverse impact on the outcome of your case.
The more time a lawyer can spend investigating, tailoring, building and presenting a compelling defense the greater your chances of attaining a good outcome in your case. Private DUI criminal defense attorney, James Novak regulates his caseloads. He provides flexible and affordable flat fees at competitive rates for his clients. He makes sure that every client is afforded the maximum time and labor needed to provide the most effective defense, to their case.
What is an Arraignment?
The “arraignment” is a short but formal hearing for which you are required to appear, if you have not retained a DUI / criminal defense lawyer to represent you. If you have hired an attorney, they will represent you at the arraignment. The notice for the date of arraignment appears on your ticket or “complaint” for the charges against you, and is usually scheduled one to two months after your arrest. If you do not attend the scheduled arraignment, and have not been given alternative instructions by your defense attorney or the court, a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest under Arizona LawA.R.S. 13-2506 & A.R.S. 13-2507.
The purpose of the arraignment, among other formalities, is for the court to read you your rights , read the formal charges against you, identify your attorney if one has been hired by or if you need one appointed by the court because you are indigent, and for you to enter your plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest).
How should I plea at my arraignment? What are my plea options?
While every case is unique, it is rarely a good idea to plead guilty. In most DUI and Criminal cases in Maricopa County, your defense attorney will advise you to enter the plea of “not guilty” at your arraignment. This will invoke your right to defend the criminal or DUI charges alleged against you. The Law Office of James E. Novak will enter a “not guilty” plea on your behalf in most situations.
What happens if I plead guilty, no contest or not guilty?
If you plead guilty to misdemeanor charges, you are immediately accepting guilt to the charges against you and ensuing penalties. Sentencing by the judge usually follows immediately. If you plead guilty to an Arizona felony, another court date for sentencing will usually be set to occur within 30 days of entering your guilty plea. The cost of pleading guilty may result in higher costs in fines, penalties and your freedom.
If you plead no contest your position is that you are not accepting guilt, but that you are not guilty of the charges. Rather, you agree to accept a conviction without challenging the charges. This will also result in an immediate conviction. It means you agree to accept penalties under Arizona law for the sentencing range of the criminal charges. This plea is not often entered, unless you are entering a plea deal with the prosecution.
When a not guilty plea is entered, you are stating you want to defend your DUI or criminal charges. The court will then schedule your next hearing date, which is your initial appearance hearing. You will be instructed further from that point by your defense attorney as to how to proceed in your case.
With everything you need to consider while dealing with a criminal charge in Maricopa County, it is in your best interest to retain a defense attorney who can provide you with excellent customer service along with information you need for the best legal defense in your particular case. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 for a free consultation, or send us an online message.