Sorry to hear about the unfortunate predicament that you have found yourself in. I realize
that you were doing what you thought was best, and that you were protecting your son from the
shame and humiliation from others knowing that you do not have a home. I can only hope that
during this time you are keeping your head high and spirits up. After receiving your letter, I
researched each of the questions you have asked, and this is what I have come up with.
As I understand the police never read you your Miranda rights. The Supreme Court
requires that the police advise individuals who are subjected to custodial interrogation of their
right to remain silent, have and attorney present, and so on (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, p.
70, 2011). Unfortunately, failure to advise you of your Miranda rights does not automatically
result in the dismissal of the case against you. However, in some circumstances it is possible to
have some of the statements you made thrown out, but you should discuss this matter with your
attorney so that appropriate actions can be taken. When you are not properly advised of your
Constitutional rights may have consequences that will impact the outcome of your case. Again
the mere fact that you were not properly advised does not mean that your case will be
automatically dismissed (County of Orange, Partnering with our Community, 2012).
Try not to worry too much. If the police have not questioned you yet it is that they may
not have enough evidence, or trying to gather evidence to use against you. The most important
thing is not to sign any document without getting consent or advice from your attorney. Also do
not sign anything until you have completely read the entire document, and fully understand what
it is that you are reading. Remember that anything you say or do can and will be used against
you in a court of law, and that talking to an officer is just the same as signing a statement. Also
when an officer promises to help you or offers to make some sort of deal for your cooperation is
not legally binding in a court of law.
Fraud is a federal offense, but to put your mind at ease, you case will more likely be
handled by the state courts. Because you do not have a current address among other things
happening in your life, the judge may have sympathy for you and drop the case. I did some
further research on this and found that there was a woman out of Ohio who was found guilty of
falsifying school records and was sentenced to five years in prison, but only served nine days in
jail (St. Clair, 2012). There are other cases in which parents like the Ohio woman I mentioned
have given false addresses so that their children may attend better schools. I can only hope that
your attorney will look into this matter very carefully, and the charges will be dropped.
Unfortunately fraud is a felony offense. To prove that fraud has taken place it must be
proven that your actions involved five separate criteria: 1) a false statement of a material fact, 2)
knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, 3) intent on the part of the
defendant to deceive the alleged victim, 4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the
statement, and 5) injury to the alleged victim as a result (Hoffman, 2010). You knowingly signed
documents that stated you lived at an address where you do not live. This is a fraudulent act and
your intent was to deceive the school into thinking you resided somewhere that you no longer
live. Therefore, the courts may charge you with fraud.
Because of the charges against you, you most certainly need an attorney. As your
Miranda rights state, if you cannot afford one, the courts will appoint you with one (Criminal
Procedure and Sentencing Overview, 2011). The situation you are in an attorney would be able
to make the courts aware why it was you gave a false address when enrolling your son in school.
I realized that as a parent you wanted to do what was best for your child, and at the time it
probably seemed like no big deal to list an address you no longer resided at. When you were
enrolling your son into school, you should have talked to the school board and let them know
that you did not have a permanent address but were looking for one.
Because the charges against you are felonious charges there is no other option for you
other than bail. Fortunately, when you go to court the judge may reduce the bail amount or an
OR (own recognizance). When making the decision to reduce bail the courts will look as several
things: are you a flight risk, are you a danger, do you have ties to the community, how serious is
your present offense (Remington Dunn, n.d.). Hopefully, the judge will reduce the bail amount
because you offense is not as serious as some other cases of fraud.
If you would like to get a look at the police reports you can have your attorney request a
copy. Should you not want to wait on your attorney, you can go to the police department or some
precinct offer a copy online but there is a small price either way. There may be a form to fill out
requesting this information depending on where you live.
Preliminary and Grand Jury hearing are both pretrial hearings. Preliminary hearings are
used to decide probable cause and are held in front of a judicial judge. The defendant must
request a preliminary hearing and the prosecutor may file charges before the hearing. There are
three matters that must be decided in the preliminary hearing; whether a crime was committed,
whether the crime was in the courts jurisdiction and whether there are reasonable grounds to
believe that the accused committed the crime. A Grand Jury hearing is a hearing before a group
of jurors who have specifically selected according to the law and sworn to hear evidence against
the accused to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. I would advise
you to go with the preliminary hearing, this way the judge can look at the evidence and decide if
you intended to commit this crime. The judge may decide that you were not trying to break the
law but you were doing what was best for your child. The judge has more leeway in deciding
what you did where a group of people may not be as lenient.
The person or persons who decide guilt depend on what type of trial you have. If you
decide to go with a bench trial then the judge decides your guilt or innocence. On the other hand
if you decide to go with a jury trial then a jury of your peers will look at all the evidence and
determine your guilt or innocence. The prosecutor never decides the guilt or innocence of the
defendant. He job is to present the evidence to the judge and jury in hopes of proving your guilt.
I believe that if you are found guilty the judge may sentence you anywhere from 6
months to a year, but then I believe he will suspend that sentence so you can take care of your
child. What this means is that the judge has sentenced you to time in jail, but suspended that
sentence which means you will be put on probation for that length of time. If you continue to
stay out of trouble while you are on probation then nothing else will happen. If you get into
trouble while you are on probation, then you can be sent back to jail to complete what is left of
If you don’t agree with the verdict or the sentence then you have the right to appeal. To
appeal you must prove that the courts did something wrong or that your rights were violated.
When you appeal your sentence a higher court reviews your case and determines whether the
lower court got it right and if they did then your appeal is denied.
Hopefully the information I have given you has been helpful, and that the outcome is
good. Good luck with your future endeavors, and know that we are hoping for the best for you.
Kristina Baires, Pamela Actaboski, and Joseph Wingate