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Top 3 Crime-Related Legal Questions From FindLaw Answers: Feb. 2015

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on February 27, 2015 9:50 AM

You've got questions... we've got answers. If you have not yet asked or answered a question in FindLaw's Answers community, what are you waiting for? This amazing free resource supports a dynamic community of legal consumers and attorneys helping each other out. Simple as that.

We see a lot of great questions in our Answers community every day. Here's a look at the Top 3 recent questions from our criminal law boards:

1. Should I take or refuse a sobriety test if I'm pulled over for a suspected DUI?

DUI-related questions are among the most frequently asked on our message boards. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this particular question. So much depends on the specific circumstances of your situation -- whether you've actually been drinking, how close you think you might be to the legal limit, etc.

However, there are some considerations to keep in mind if you do find yourself in this situation. All states have "implied consent laws" which state that simply by driving, you're giving consent to submit to sobriety tests. While you're free to refuse these tests, the officer can take your refusal as reasonable suspicion of a DUI and you may have your driver's license automatically revoked for a period of time. Some states also have "no-refusal" policies which allow police officers to obtain electronic warrants from judges for BAC testing, which you cannot refuse.

2. What happens if I fail to appear for a court date?

Even if you failed to appear for something as minor as a traffic ticket court date, keep in mind that courts take failures to appear very seriously. Depending on the case, a failure to appear may end up being a crime in itself, in addition to the original crime. Most commonly, a failure to appear will result in a judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. If you find yourself in this situation, you probably need to get yourself an experienced criminal defense lawyer ASAP, to help mitigate the severity of the charges against you.

3. Does a person have actually be in possession of a controlled substance (physically on the person or carried by the person) to be charged with possession?

The quick and simple answer to this question is no. While prosecutors in drug possession cases have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in possession of the drugs, this doesn't mean that the drugs have to be found on you. Instead you might be found to be in constructive possession of the drugs, meaning that you have some type of control over the drugs. So if the drugs are found in your purse on the table across the room, a judge is probably going to find you had "constructive possession."

Whatever the exact circumstances of your case, if you find yourself facing possession charges, it's probably best if you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you.

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