CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
At Collins & Associates, we handle all criminal matters, from traffic tickets to homicide cases. We are experienced trial attorneys in all Delaware courts. That means we have the expertise to handle everything: misdemeanors, DUIs, felonies, juveniles, VOPs, appeals, pardons, expungements, etc. Choosing the right attorney is crucial—that is why we do not charge for consultations. Contact us today—we can help.
Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions
What is bail and how does it work?
Except in capital murder cases, an accused person is entitled to be released on bail. Bail must be in a reasonable amount based on two factors:
- To ensure future court appearances
- To ensure the safety of the community
So as you might expect, a person with an extensive criminal record accused of a gun crime will have a far higher bail than a person with no record accused of a minor offense. Bail can be paid directly to the Court, or a fee can be paid to a bail bondsman, who posts the bail on your behalf.
There are four types of bail, or pretrial release:
- Own Recognizance: no bail at all
- Unsecured Bond: an amount of bail, but it does not have to be paid unless you miss a court appearance
- Secured Bond: This can be posted in full with the Court (in which case you can get most of it back after the case) or a licensed bail bondsman can post it for a 10% fee. In that case, the bail bondsman keeps the 10% as a fee.
- Cash Bond: This must be posted in cash with the court in full, or a bail bondsman will typically post it for a fee of about 1/3 of the cash amount. Again this is a fee and not recoverable.
Bond is of course forfeited if you miss court appearances, get arrested, or violate the conditions of bond (such as curfew or a no-contact order). If you get locked back up for one of these reasons, you will typically be held on a high cash bail until your trial.
If you use a bail bondsman, please make sure the company is licensed to do business. You are free to contact whoever you like, but we recommend Above and Beyond Bail Bonds. They provide prompt and courteous service.
Should I bail out my family member?
This is a very tough question. Obviously people want their loved one home and not locked up. On the other hand, bail is expensive. Many people cannot afford bail and legal representation. Frankly, it is more important in the long run to have an effective lawyer for your case. The other issue is whether your loved one risks reoffending if he or she is released to the community. Jail is no fun, but at least the defendant will stay out of trouble until trial. Each case is different. We would be glad to discuss with you the pros and cons of bail in your particular case. We can also file bail reduction motions to try to decrease your cost. Please contact us for a no-charge consultation regarding your bail issues. Contact us by calling (302) 655-4600.
If you have been charged and not convicted does this show up on a background check?
The short answer is no. Most background checks only reveal arrests. However, the courts in Delaware are public and is someone has your name and date of birth they can walk right in to the clerk’s office and look you up on the publicly available computers. Those DO show pending cases, past cases, and everything else.
I will also note that as of last month, due to a new law, PUBLIC employers are not permitted to ask about criminal history on job applications. The law does not (yet) apply to private companies.
If you do get charged with something make sure you do not speak to the police without a lawyer sitting next to you!
What is a Motion for Postconviction Relief?
Also known as a Rule 61, this is a convicted inmate’s way to attack a conviction on the grounds that his constitutional rights were violated. Often the right is the right to effective counsel. Many PCR motions involve claims of ineffective assistance of counsel—in other words, your trial or appeal lawyer (or both) did their jobs inadequately.
Winning a PCR does not mean you walk out of the jail and your case is dismissed. It means the judge grants your motion for relief. Normally what the court provides is the opportunity for a new trial. Sometimes, “winning” a PCR motion and essentially getting a “do-over” of your case, and the end result could be better or worse for you.
PCR claims are tough, but not impossible, to prove. It requires proof that without the constitutional violation, the outcome of the case would probably have been different. For example, let’s say your claim is that your lawyer was ineffective for not filing a pretrial motion to suppress evidence. You would have to prove (1) that your lawyer should have filed a motion if he was doing his job, AND (2) that the motion to suppress probably would have been granted.
The steps we take in a PCR case are as follows:
- Get the files from the previous lawyers.
- Review the entire case: transcripts, motions, etc.
- Meet with client to discuss potential claims.
- File the motion
- Sometimes the judge grants a hearing on the motion.
- Decision by judge.
- Possible appeal.
If we decide after steps 1 and 2 that we cannot find anything worth pursuing, we will advise you to not go further with your motion. That saves you some legal fees. However, if we do agree to file the motion, then it is full speed ahead until we get a decision. Please contact us for a consultation about your postconviction case.
Do I need a lawyer for traffic court?
You can go to traffic court and represent yourself. Maybe you end up with just a fine, which is far less expensive than hiring a lawyer. On the other hand, you might prefer to have a lawyer to make sure you get the best possible outcome for your case—someone to advocate on your behalf with the prosecutor. Certainly if you are going to trial you should have a lawyer.
That is why we offer free consultations at Collins & Associates. Give us a call. Let us give you unbiased information about your case so you can make the right decision as to whether representation is a sound idea. Contact us so we can talk about your case.