Frequently Asked Questions
Please Keep In Mind,
I cannot give you specific advice about your case until I have met with you and understand your situation. This site contains general answers to some of the most common questions people ask me. This information is based on Oregon law. In the end, only you can decide how to proceed in your case. I hope this information is helpful to you.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
You have a constitutional right to represent yourself, but it is probably not a good idea. Mark Twain said that the person who represents himself or herself has a fool for a lawyer.
If you are planning to have a trial in your case, you need a lawyer. Trials involve complicated rules which attorneys spend years learning. Just as you would not perform surgery on yourself, you should not try to represent yourself in a trial.
If you are charged with a felony, you should never represent yourself. This is true even when you are going to resolve your case with a negotiated plea. Felony charges carry very serious potential consequences. You need advice from a trained professional before you decide how to proceed.
There are some misdemeanor cases in which you can probably represent yourself. I recommend that you always have a consultation with a lawyer before representing yourself in settlement negotiations. The DA's will work with unrepresented defendants to settle cases. The deputy district attorneys will make it very clear to you that they are your adversaries and cannot give you legal advice.
If you are charged with a crime, you have a right to be represented by a lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the Court will appoint someone to represent you. You need to be sure to tell the judge that you want to be represented and that you can't afford to hire your own lawyer. If you meet certain criteria, you will be entitled to court-appointed counsel.
Do I Have to Talk to the Police?
No. In fact, you have a constitutional right not to talk with the police. Most people should not talk with investigators until they have spoken to an attorney. Sometimes, after talking with you, your lawyer will schedule a meeting with the police so that you can tell them your story.
It is much better to remain silent than it is to lie to the police. If police or prosecutors become aware that you have lied during an investigation, they can use that lie against you in court. On the other hand, the prosecutor cannot use your decision to remain silent against you in a trial.
Should I Take a Polygraph or a CVSA Test?
No. Although it is possible that the police will arrest you if you do not agree to take a polygraph or CVSA test, the risks in doing so far outweigh the benefits.
Neither polygraph tests nor Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) tests are admissible in court. Polygraph tests are more accurate than are CVSA tests, but they are not infallible. If you take one of these tests and do not pass, the police and prosecutors will likely remain convinced of your guilt, regardless of what evidence you and your attorney produce to the contrary.
Once you have an attorney, you can schedule a private polygraph test. If you pass that test, your attorney can present the results to the prosecutor. The results are not binding on the prosecutor, but many DA's offices are receptive to passed polygraphs. They do not want to prosecute innocent people.
Do I Have to Take a Breath or Urine Test?
Oregon's Implied Consent law requires drivers who are arrested for DUII to submit to urine or breath tests if they are lawfully requested to do so by a police officer. If you refuse to take a test, that refusal can be used against you in court. You will face an additional charge for refusing the test.
If you take a test and blow less than .08, you will not face a DMV license suspension as a result of the breath test. The DA will review your case and decide whether or not to charge you with DUII.
If you take the test and do not pass, your license will be suspended by the DMV for either 90 days or 1 year, depending on your traffic record.
If you refuse to take the test, your license will be suspended for either 1 year or 3 years, again, depending on your driving record.
If you disagree with the results of the test, you are entitled to an independent blood test at your own expense. An independent blood test can be helpful to your attorney if you are planning to challenge the breath test results in court. You must let the arresting officer know that you want to take a blood test. If you have funds to pay for the test, the officer will take you to a lab for the blood draw.
If you are facing an Implied Consent suspension, you have the right to a hearing regarding the validity of the proposed suspension. You must request the hearing within 10 days of the breath test. There are instructions about how to request the hearing on the back of your temporary driver's license. If your hearing request is late, you give up the right to challenge the suspension.