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Is it possible for me to 'buy my way out' of prison time?

Answer: Yes, if you've committed a financial or theft-related crime, and restitution is an issue.  The single-most important factor for Judges is that victims of financial crimes be made whole. While the courts are supposed to balance the severity of the crime, the accused's background, and their ability to pay a fine or restitution, it really comes down to money.  In U.S. v. Plate, a Florida bank officer embezzeled $142,000. from some clients.  She was able to come up with about $40,000. in restitution.  The Judge sentenced her to 27 months imprisonment, but told her that if her friends and supporters "step up and pay" her restitution, her prison sentence would be converted to probation.

My lawyer can get me probation for my felony arrest. That's a good deal, right?

Answer: Not necessarily. Prosecutors sometimes dangle a sentence of probation in exchange for a guilty plea. Sometimes, it's a fair deal. But before you run into court and grab probation to avoid jail time, have you considered all the collateral consequences that a convicted felon faces? A federal judge recently wrote that the effects of living as a convicted felon "can be devestating" and amounts "to a form of civil death".  

If the police don't read me my rights, they can't use my statements against me, right?

Answer: Sometimes, they can.  Even if the police fail or 'forget' to read you your Miranda rights, they can get away with having the things you say used against you if a court finds that the circumstances of the questioning did not rise to the level of "custodial interrogation".  What does this mean?

If the cops tell you not to leave town, do you have to stay?

Answer: No. We've all watched police crime dramas in which a suspect is questioned by the police, then told, "Don't leave town" even though he's not under arrest. Have you ever wondered whether you are legally compelled to stay in town if no charges have been filed? Is it obstruction of justice if you decide to visit your grandmother over the weekend?

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