Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Being accused of criminal charges can be daunting and overwhelming. With your entire future potentially in jeopardy, you may have a range of questions about your case.

My law firm, the Law Office Of Robert A. Skovgaard, is backed by over 40 years of experience in criminal law — including nearly a decade working for the Connecticut public defender's office. Below are answers to some of the most common criminal defense questions I hear at my Stamford office.

Why do I need a criminal defense attorney?

Especially for more minor offenses, you may be tempted to simply accept the charges or attempt to represent yourself before the prosecution. This may be your biggest mistake. Even if you are guilty of the charge, law enforcement and state prosecutors will often try to get you the maximum possible penalty, even if you don't deserve it. Police may even act unlawfully, violating your rights for a verdict in their favor.

Hiring a criminal lawyer not only ensures you are treated fairly, but also leaves you in the best position to move onward with your life. Everyone is guaranteed legal representation in the Constitution, and it's more important than ever to exercise that right.

What happens when you refuse to take a sobriety test in Connecticut?

You are allowed to refuse a chemical sobriety test, but doing so will get your license taken away immediately. If you fail to request a hearing or if the prosecution proves your guilt, you may receive harsher penalties than if you simply took the test.

Even if you know that you will fail the blood or breath test, the results may be disputed later. That is why I often suggest that people with no prior DWI conviction take this test when asked.

Are DUI checkpoints allowed in Connecticut?

Yes, the Supreme Court has determined that DUI checkpoints are constitutional, though there are certain restrictions in place. If you are arrested at a checkpoint, check with my office to be sure that the police followed proper protocol.

Can law enforcement search my home or vehicle?

There are only a handful of ways law enforcement can gain permission to search your property. The first is if you give them explicit consent. If you are asked, be sure to always decline a search of your property. Police will often try to convince you or coerce you into giving permission, so be careful when speaking to an officer.

Alternatively, police may obtain a warrant, or they may search when they have probable cause. This is different from reasonable suspicion, however, which is what is required for them to pull you over for drunk driving.

What is the difference between "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion?"

Reasonable suspicion is simply believing that it is likely that you are committing a crime. If you are swerving on the road or driving erratically, an officer may have reasonable suspicion to believe that you are drunk driving, and may pull you over.

In order to perform a search of your property or make an arrest, however, it requires probable cause. After questioning you, law enforcement may observe further evidence of you committing a crime — such as smelling alcohol on your breath or an admission that you had several drinks earlier in the day. At this point, it is more likely than not that you may have committed a crime, and the officer has probable cause to make an arrest.

Have More Questions? Schedule Your Free Consultation!

Every case is unique, and you deserve legal counsel that is tailored to your unique situation. Call my firm at 203-883-4506 or toll-free at 877-380-5663 to get your free initial consultation, or send me an email to schedule your appointment.