Here you can find some useful information that will help you clarify your doubts so you can make the best decision.
Your Rights with Police:
- Miranda Rights - a criminal suspect's rights during police interrogations, including the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present.
- Search and Seizure - the 4th Amendment offers protection from unreasonable searches and unlawful arrests.
- Strip Search after an Arrest - courts are split over whether jails and prisons can strip search inmates without an individualized suspicion.
Your Rights if Convicted:
- Right to Counsel - 1st Appeal - defendants have a right to an attorney for an appeal as well as at trial.
- No Cruel & Unusual Punishment - the sentences meted out by the criminal justice system cannot be unduly harsh.
- Prisoner Rights (Civil Rights Center) - a defendant's rights in the criminal justice system don't end after sentencing. Learn more about prisoner rights here.
Rights of the Accused:
- Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination - the government can't force individuals to make statements that would implicate them in a crime.
- Right to Counsel - criminal defendants have the right to legal representation by a qualified and competent attorney.
- Right to Speedy Jury Trial - the government must bring a defendant to trial in a reasonable amount of time.
- "Double Jeopardy" Protections - with a few important exceptions, the government can't prosecute individuals for the same crime twice.
- The 6th Amendments Confrontation Clause - defendants in a criminal case have the right to confront the witnesses against them.
Here are a few of the Frequently Asked Questions about NY criminal laws and legal defense that we get asked every day in our law practice.
What should I look for to Hire the Best Lawyer to defend my criminal charge in New York City?
When you evaluate attorneys to decide who you should hire to represent you, You need to primarily consider two things: the right kind of experience, and someone you can trust.
- Does the attorney work exclusively on Criminal Defense cases? Someone who does a wide variety of different legal work is probably too much of a generalist, and may not be instantly familiar with issues in criminal court, and that could be a real disadvantage.
- Have they fought and won charges just like mine? Ask about success records for similar cases to what you are facing, and what you can realistically expect for an outcome. If you are charged with drug possession, ask about drug charges that the attorney has beaten.
- Have they fought cases in my court and county? It can be an advantage for the attorney to be known by the judges, clerks, etc, either personally or by reputation. Many legal decisions are judgment calls, so you will want every advantage on your side. Plus, many counties and judges handle sentencing differently, so you will want your lawyer to be fully informed and prepared for all possible outcomes.
The truth is that fighting a criminal charge is extremely stressful. Walking in to court knowing that the prosecutor may be trying to put you in jail, and the judge may not be sympathetic is a terrible thing to go through.
Your defense attorney is the only one on your side. So you want to have trust and confidence that he or she is doing a good job for you. Does the attorney talk to you and explain things to you?
The more you know about what is going on, you can feel a little more comfortable that at least you are doing everything you can, and things are taken care of. Knowing that everything is being handled can make you feel a little more relaxed in a stressful situation.
There is a Warrant for My Arrest in New York. Is it too late to fight the charges?
Not necessarily. But you could be charged with bail jumping for failure to appear in court, probation violations if you have a prior offense, or worse.
What's more, you are at risk of being picked up and arrested anytime. And if that happens, you are in much worse shape and in a poor bargaining position for securing your release. New York police departments are deploying high tech license plate scanning and reading technologies, so you could be pulled over for legally driving your car, if you are passively scanned and flagged as someone with an outstanding warrant. (See more about a New York County using this technology).
You could also be picked up anywhere, even out of state, since many law enforcement agencies share this information. This technology is deployed in hundreds of jurisdictions, and is growing all the time.
What is the likelihood of requiring that I get an Ignition Interlock device after a DWI conviction?
According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic law, an interlock device must be installed in you vehicle when you are eligible for driver's license reinstatement after a second DWI within 5 years, or any Felony DWI charge.
More on ignition interlock laws on my drunk driving additional penalties page .
For New York Drug Possession Charges, what is the difference between Aggregate Weight and Pure Weight ?
The difference between an Aggregate Weight offense and a Pure Weight offense has to do with the amount of drug in the mixture.
Aggregate Weight is the total weight of the drug itself, plus any other substance that may be mixed with it. For example, if a certain substance weighs 4 ounces, 50% of which is baking soda and 50% of which is cocaine, the substance has an aggregate weight of 4 ounces.
Pure weight refers only to the amount of the actual controlled substance contained within the overall mixture; not with the weight of the entire mixture. Thus, in the example above, the œpure weight of the cocaine would be 2 ounces.
Under New York drug laws, possession of heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine are aggregate weight offenses, except for a charge of criminal possession of cocaine in the fifth degree.
Possession of LSD and methadone are pure weight offenses.
See the drug possession laws and penalties page for more details.
How Can I Get a Copy of my Criminal Record in New York?
You must make a request to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services for your Personal Criminal History Record Review. You can do so by mail or by phone, instructions and more info are.