Interviewer: What are some of the most common types of crimes that you represent people for?
Paul Tafelski: Many times we’re representing people on misdemeanor cases such as drunk driving, domestic violence, and possession of drugs. Whether that be prescription pills without a prescription such as Vicodin, Xanax, OxyContin, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of heroin.
Drug delivery charges which are technically called possession with intent to deliver so someone is selling drugs; a lot of times people get assault and battery cases or if there’s type of weapon used then it becomes known as felonious assault which makes it a felony. We handle a lot of those cases as well.
Home invasion cases often come up so do cases involving criminal sexual conduct and just general assault of crimes. I guess to answer your question; it could be just about anything.
Cases May be Handled differently after the Arraignment Depending on the Type of Drugs
Interviewer: Between marijuana and other drugs like cocaine, heroin, or meth, then you have prescription medications, are they all handled differently or they all handled relatively the same?
Paul Tafelski: The answer to that question is both. In some ways they’re all handled the same because once you’re charged with a crime, now you have to go through the court system and it starts off with an arraignment. The arraignments a very important step in every case because the court sets a bond and that bond determines whether or not you get to stay out in the world while your case is pending or whether you’re going to sit in jail. Then things start to get a little different.
For example, someone who gets caught possessing marijuana on a first offense is more likely going to get a personal bond so that they don’t have to post any money to stay out of jail, whereas somebody who is charged with possession of heroin has a better chance of having to post some kind of cash to stay out of jail The court looks at heroin as a more serious drug. Whether you get treated the same of differently has more to do with your unique circumstances surrounding what drug your possessing and your background.
The Court May Consider the Defendant’s Age as a Factor in a Criminal Case
Factors the court considers are your age, your criminal history, how you came in contact with the police. All those sort of things all impact whether they’re treating you more or less harshly.
Interviewer: Does age really count as a factor they consider?
Paul Tafelski: Sure, I think someone who’s 45 years old and never been in trouble before will get the benefit of the doubt easier than someone who’s 25 years old and has one or two prior things on their record. The court is going to be more trusting that the older person is going to respect the process a little more and follow the rules that are set forth. That’s not written in the law anywhere but that’s just a practical thing that you may commonly experience.
Appearance by Defendant is Required at Every Hearing in a Criminal Case Unless Waived by the Court
Interviewer: For specifically drug offences, would you recommend that your clients not show up for an arraignment and have you showed up on their behalf instead?
Paul Tafelski: Unless the court specifically waives the client’s attendance they have to be present at every hearing in a criminal case. The arraignment is the very beginning of the case and there are two purposes for an arraignment. The first is to make you aware of the charges and ask how do you plead and the second is to set terms and conditions for bond. Those are determined in order to number one insure you appearance at court. The second is to determine whether or not you present a danger to the public. Depending upon the nature of the charge, issue of bond becomes more complicated.
For example, a murder charge you often get a very high bond or no bond because the court deems you to be a flight risk and a danger to the public. The arraignment can be tricky and it’s not something people should overlook.