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Criminal Defense

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in New York State, the most important thing you can do is choose the right legal representation. You need to find an attorney you can trust, and someone who is willing to fight for you and your interests. 

Our office prides itself on attorney-client communication.  An attorney will return every phone call, and you will have every opportunity to discuss all of the aspects of your case.  Your concerns and fears will not be ignored!

Criminal charges are a very serious matter.  The consequences of a criminal conviction can result in jail time or probation, the loss of your job or even deportation.  In addition, a criminal conviction can make you ineligible for certain licenses, or even disqualify you from housing or other government benefits (e.g. student loan aid).

That's why it's important that you retain an attorney as soon as possible.  Each part of the criminal process holds important opportunities to enforce your rights and obtain information that may be necessary to getting your case dismissed or plea bargained to a lesser offense.

ARREST

If you have been arrested or think you may be the target of a criminal investigation, then it is important that you hire a criminal defense attorney immediately.  Police officers will often try to gain their most valuable information in the moments after an arrest.  

Detectives will also "invite" criminal suspects to come down to the precinct for a voluntary interview.  Most people will agree to this interview, because they believe if they explain the situation they can somehow talk their way out of being arrested.  This is rarely the case, as detectives have already decided whether to arrest the suspect, but instead use the opportunity to interrogate the individual without reading them their Miranda rights.  Remember, police officers don't have to read you your Miranda rights until you are physically under arrest.

If you have been arrested it is important that you invoke your right to counsel and your right to remain silent immediately.  A recent U.S. Supreme Court case (Berghuis v. Thompkins) held that an individual's right to remain silent does not apply unless the person verbally states that they wish to invoke that right.

Also, hiring an attorney before you are arrested may give you the only opportunity to avoid being arrested in the first place.  Our office will interview witnesses, review documents / security cameras, and even send out private investigators to obtain evidence before the police have had an opportunity to do so.  In some situations, we may be able to present this to the police and convince them not to file charges at all.

ARRAIGNMENT

Arraignment is the first step in a criminal proceeding.  At this stage a defendant will be brought before a judge and will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charge.  In some situations the district attorney may have a plea bargain offer available at arraignment.  It's important that you discuss the consequences of accepting such an offer with an experienced criminal defense attorney, as it is very difficult to withdraw such a plea and the consequences can sometimes be severe.

If you do not accept a plea bargain at arraignment, the judge will determine if bail should be set on your case and what amount that should be.  The court will take into account many factors, such as the severity of the alleged crime, the defendant's criminal record and whether the individual poses a flight risk.  You will need an experienced attorney to argue on your behalf to fight for your release or at the least argue for lower bail.   

In addition, there may be other issues also discussed at arraignment; such as temporary orders of protection, license revocation, or pre-trial probation.  

If you are charged with a felony offense, your case will be referred to the Grand Jury to determine whether probable cause exists to pursue your case further.  The Grand Jury meets in secret and will hear evidence from the prosecution.  You also have the right to testify before the Grand Jury.  However, most defendants choose not to do so.  One of our experienced criminal defense attorneys will help you decide what to do in this situation.  If the Grand Jury decides there is sufficient evidence for your case to proceed to trial, they will issue an indictment, and your case will be scheduled for further court dates.

PRE-TRIAL DISCOVERY AND CONFERENCE

After your arraignment, your case will most likely be scheduled for a preliminary conference date.  At that time the district attorney will disclose some of the evidence they intend to use against the defendant, including but not limited to, sworn statements from witnesses, drug/alcohol test results, and photo/video evidence.

After receiving the district attorney's voluntary disclosure of evidence, your attorney may choose to file motions seeking to suppress the introduction of some of this evidence at trial.  Evidence can be suppressed for a number of reasons, such as an illegal search or arrest, an improper police lineup, a coerced confession, or a denial of the defendant's right to counsel or right to remain silent.  

In many situations, the court will order a hearing to determine if the evidence will be admissible.  At this hearing, the police officer or other relevant witness may be called to testify.  The defense attorney can also call witnesses.  If it is found that evidence was improperly obtained, then court will prohibit the prosecutor from introducing it at trial.

Pre-trial hearings are crucial to fighting any criminal charge.  If the evidence is suppressed, often the prosecutor's case can be crippled, resulting in dismissal or a favorable plea offer.  However, even if you lose the hearing it may ultimately help your chances at trial.  A skilled attorney will relish the opportunity to cross examine a police officer or key government witness.  This hearing provides an opportunity to know exactly what the witness is going to say before they testify at trial.  Also, since the hearing is conducted under oath and before a court reporter, any inconsistent statements can be used against the witness when they testify at trial.  

OUR OFFICE HAS THE SKILLED AND EXPERIENCED ATTORNEYS THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PRE-TRIAL HEARINGS AND MOTIONS.

TRIAL

If you're unable to resolve your case with a plea bargain or dismissal, then you have no choice but to go to trial.  

In most criminal cases you will be entitled to a trial by jury.  Misdemeanors trials are heard before a 6 person jury, and felonies are heard before a 12 person jury.  (Class B misdemeanors and violations do not qualify for the right to a jury trial and instead are determined by a judge.)

In any trial, preparation is the key to an effective defense.  Our office prides itself on our trial work.  Every aspect of your case will be scrutinized in advance.  From jury selection, to the preparation of witnesses, to cross examination and the introduction of evidence.  Our attorneys will prepare a detailed plan and strategy for your trial.  

We believe it is not enough for an attorney to merely have good intentions.  Instead we believe that most trials are decided long before either party has set foot in a courtroom. With the difference being the preparedness of those involved.

If you would like to find out more information about your legal options, please call our office to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney today.