Our criminal defense attorneys in Portland understand that being accused of breaking the law is an intimidating and possibly even terrifying situation to be in. You may not know what to do, who to turn to, or even where to start. Fortunately, we know exactly how to resolve your legal problems. Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. is dedicated to providing all our clients with dependable, proficient, and personalized legal services. Backed by over 20 years of in-depth legal experience, all our criminal defense lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the Oregon courts and judicial system. We have successfully helped thousands of clients resolve their criminal defense issues and we can help you, too.
For more information about Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. and our variety of effective legal services, please read our FAQ below or feel free to call us at (503) 303-0771. You can speak with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys in Portland during a completely free case evaluation conducted either in-person or over the phone. Throughout this consultation, we will discuss all aspects of your case, determine if our services are right for you, and immediately get started on developing a strong defense strategy, if so. Also, feel free to contact us online if that is more convenient for you.
Criminal Defense FAQ
What should I do if I am being investigated for committing a crime?The short answer is: Hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not answer any questions or discuss the matter with anyone other than your attorney or an attorney your considering retaining. Anything you say to anyone other than your attorney can and will be used against you. Police, federal law enforcement, and civil regultaory investigators (like the FDIC or the IRS) will often attempt to question you at your home or office before you have had a chance to consult with an attorney. Do not fall into this trap. Often they will tell people who are being investigated that they will help themselves in some way by talking to them. THERE IS NO BENEFIT TO TALKING TO ANY INVESTIGATOR WITHOUT HAVING AN ATTORNEY PRESENT.
I've been arrested. What are my rights?
If police have developed probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, you are subject to being arrested. Once arrested for a criminal charge, you have a number of very important rights. One of the most critical is the right to remain silent. Exercise this right! Under no circumstances should you discuss your case with the police or anyone else until you have had a chance to consult with a criminal defense attorney. How and when you exercise your various rights can have serious ramifications in your case and ultimately on the result you are able to achieve. Specific charges and specific facts give rise to different rights which you may be able to enforce to your benefit during your case. Only by immediately retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney can you be sure that your rights are protected. Conviction of even seemingly minor offenses can have serious and protracted consequences for you and for your family.
Your attorney must be your most trusted advisor. This is your case and your life. You will need to speak openly and honestly with your lawyer on many, often difficult and sometimes even embarrasing topics. Your lawyer will make many recommendations and decisions in your case. Ultimately however, you will decide whether you are going to trial or negotiating a plea deal with the government.
What follows is only a brief list of some of the critical rights which need to be discussed with a qualified criminal defense attorney as you decide how to handle your case.
- You have the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.
- You have the right to remain silent. No one can force you to discuss your case. Even if you decide to go to trial you may remain silent. If you remain silent at your trial you have the right to have the judge tell the jury that they cannot use your silence against you.
- You have the right to be informed of many of your rights before the police interrogate you while you are in custody.
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney at ALL critical stages of your case.
- If you cannot afford to hire your own attorney, you have the right to have the court appoint an attorney to represent you at no or minimal cost to you.
- You are presumed innocent of these charges and have the right to force the prosecutor to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that you have been charged is not evidence of guilt.
- You have the right to enter a plea of Not Guilty in your case and demand a jury trial of either 6 or 12 jurors. You also can request a trial in front of a judge rather than in front of a jury.
- At any hearing in your case you have the right to confront all of the witnesses who give evidence against you.
- You have the right to subpoena favorable witnesses and evidence into court to assist in your defense.
- You have the right to have your case investigated in an appropriate fashion.
How can a lawyer help me?
The extent to which a lawyer can help you will depend on that lawyer's background, experience, and current practice areas. Most lawyers nowadays limit their practices to only a few areas of law. Think of it like you developed a serious medical problem and you decided to see a doctor. A general practitioner may be able to make an initial diagnosis, but wouldn't you want to see a specialist in order to develop a strategy for treatment? The same holds true with lawyers. If you have questions about a will you seek a lawyer who specializes in wills and estates. If you have a pending criminal charge, always a serious matter, you are best served seeking an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The lawyers at Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. have over 75 years of combined experience defending people charged with crimes in Oregon. We are a four lawyer firm located in downtown Portland. We own and occupy a small home converted to office use. There are no other businesses at our office. We offer personalized, confidential and discreet representation. We handle both federal and state criminal charges. If you have been charged with a crime we will always do the following:
- We will demand that the District Attorney provide us with all of the evidence that they intend to use against you. If there is evidence in the hands of third parties or other governmental agencies we will ask the court to order that evidence be produced in court.
- We will carefully and critically scrutinize the State's evidence. If we feel any of the evidence the State seeks to use against you is legally inappropriate, or if we feel that the evidence was procured unlawfully we will file Motions with the court asking a Judge to throw out that evidence so it cannot be used against you.
- We will consult with you to get your side of the story. While we consult we will provide you with all the information you need to know in order to make the right choices for yourself.
- To the extent appropriate to the case at hand we will retain outside investigators and or expert witnesses to make sure every stone has been turned in developing defenses to your charges.
- We will aggressively negotiate with the prosecutor, providing them with information about you that is helpful to your defense.
By taking an aggressive approach to your case we will insure that you are presented with the best available options in deciding how you should proceed.
What do I do if I am contacted by police or I am arrested?
The first thing you should do is ask to speak to an attorney. Do not answer any questions without first speaking to an attorney. If the police begin to question you anyway, ask them only if you are free to leave. If you are free to leave, you should do so. If you are not free to leave according to the officer you have been stopped or you are under arrest. If that is the case, the first golden rule is to keep quiet. Tell the officer you do not wish to speak to anyone until you have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with an attorney. Say nothing more. Unfortunately you are no longer just a citizen to those questioning you. You are now the enemy. The police are not questioning you to help you. They are questioning you to gather evidence against you. In their mind you are already guilty. There is a very good reason why you have the right to remain silent. Because anything you say can AND WILL be used against you. In most circumstances anything you say to the police can be used against you later on in your case. That's right, the police get to tell a Judge or a Jury what they say you told them months, even years, before.
What do I do if the police want to search me, my belongings, my car or my home?
Often the police will ask you if it is ok to search you or your car or your house etc. If this happens to you JUST SAY NO. Absent unusual circumstances the police need a warrant to search you or your things. If you agree to let them search without a warrant anything they find can probably be used against you at trial. If they are asking to search you can bet they think you are engaged in criminal activity and are looking to build a case against you.
How much will it cost?
At Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. we are committed to providing quality representation at a reasonable fee. All initial consultations are free. At the initial consultation we will negotiate a fee that is appropriate given the nature and relative complexity of the case. We can negotiate flat rate fees or we can negotiate hourly-rate fees. In either case you will know exactly what you are paying for our services.
Attorney fees are different than the costs involved with preparing your defense. Such costs can include, among other things, investigator fees, expert witness fees, and document reproduction fees. The costs of defending a criminal case will also depend on the nature and complexity of your case. We will discuss with you what costs or expenditures we feel are appropriate to your case. We will work with you in an effort to keep costs to a minimum wherever possible.Typically we do not charge for routine overhead such as copying, phone calls, postage etc.
What should I look for when retaining a criminal defense attorney?
At Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. we believe in keeping it simple. First find a firm or an attorney with the experience appropriate to your particular case. Do they handle this type of case? If so, how often and how many such cases have they handled? Second, does the attorney or the firm have the resources and capability to handle your case? Lastly, after being satisfied with the prospective lawyer's experience and capabilities, you must be comfortable with your attorney.
Experience is easy to judge. With experience however often comes higher fees. We believe this is generally appropriate as more experienced lawyers tend to take fewer cases and are more efficient in their representation. The fewer cases an attorney accepts, the more time he or she will have to devote to your case. It is often worth the higher hourly or flat fee. All criminal cases, particular felonies, are more time consuming and complex than most people imagine.
Resources and capabilities can vary widely. Question a prospective attoreny closely on what you may expect if they are retained. What research tools and services does the attorney have access to? What other resources may be brought to bear on your case if necessary? Will the attorney you hire be the attorney working on your case or will a younger, less experienced associate attorney be entrusted with your matter. How many cases does the attorney carry at the moment? How much time does the attorney have to devote to your matter? Does the attorney or firm have experience or relationships with the court or prosecuting authority in the jurisdiction in which you are charged?
Finally we feel you must be comfortable with your attorney. Always select a handful of experienced and capable attorneys to choose from. Interview each one before making a decision. We believe that last thing a prospective client needs is to find themselves wondering during the life of their case whether or not they hired the right lawyer. Do not let yourself be pressured into signing a retainer agreement. Being investigated or charged with a crime causes enough stress. You should not feel pressure from a lawyer to sign an agreement or turn over funds immediately. You and the lawyer you retain are going to have very difficult discussions and discussions to make as your case proceeds. Unless there is a true emergency you should be afforded an opportunity to evaluate your prospective lawyer in a low-pressure environment.
I am under investigation by a federal agency, but I haven't done anything. Do I really need a lawyer?Yes. In fact, if you don't know why you are being investigated, the need for a lawyer is even greater. Sometimes federal agency civil investigations can evolve into criminal ones. Moreover, increasingly this past decade federal agencies have been given wider latitude in utilizing secret investigative techniques such as wire or phone taps, subpoenaing bank, power, and phone records, and employing sophisticated electronic surveillance techniques in order to investigate potential criminal targets without notice to the accused. Our attorneys can attempt to find out why a federal agency is taking an interest in you, and can take steps to help protect your rights. The earlier an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is involved the better.
Why do I need a federal criminal attorney?Lawyers who appear in federal court must be licensed to appear in that court. Even if that were not the case, the federal rules of criminal procedure are quite different from those that apply in Oregon criminal proceedings. Moreover, substantive aspects of federal criminal law and the rules of evidence differ from those under Oregon law. An attorney without federal court experience would not be able to provide as effective a defense.
Why would I be charged with a federal crime?
Federal criminal jurisdiction can arise from either an express or implied constitutional grant of power. It can also arise when a crime is alleged to have occurred on federal land or involved federal property. For instance, the federal government's criminal jurisdiction over drug and weapons offenses is said to arise from the federal government's constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.
Federal crimes are usually investigated and prosecuted by U.S. government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and others. In short, major drug crimes, serious weapons crimes and federal white collar crimes are more likely to be charged in federal court and prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the region. However, on occasion, attorneys from the Department of Justice may also be involved, depending on the circumstances.
What is the difference between a state crime and a federal crime?There are two types of criminal law in the United States. Laws passed by the U.S. Congress are federal laws, and those passed by the Oregon Legislature are our state laws. An individual facing criminal charges can be charged under the applicable state or federal law, or a matter may be eligible to be tried under either - and potentially even both! State offenses are prosecuted in the county in which the criminal acts are alleged to have occurred. Federal prosecutions in Oregon cover the entire state (referred to as the District of Oregon). Federal courthouses are located in Portland, Eugene, Medford and Pendleton. Most prosecutions are handled in the Portland office.