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Criminal Defense FAQ
What happens to me if I am arrested and what should I do?
If you have been arrested, it is critical that you:
- Do not resist or be disrespectful.
- Do not answer any questions or talk besides requesting to speak to a lawyer.
- Do not give consent for law enforcement to search your car, phone, home or possessions even if police claim that they’ll “just get a warrant” or it will make things more difficult for you.
- Politely and consistently request to speak to an attorney until you speak to one in private.
If you or someone you care about has been arrested, here is some of what may happen:
- You will likely be handcuffed, your body will be searched and you will be brought to the police station.
- At the police station you will be fingerprinted, a mug shot will be taken and your biographical information (name, date of birth, height, weight, etc.) will be entered into law enforcement’s system.
- The police may try to ask you questions about the charges. If they do, you should politely decline to answer and request to speak to an attorney.
- Depending on charge, you may be given a desk appearance ticket (DAT) to appear in court at a future time or you may be brought before a Judge for an arraignment.
- The Police/prosecutor may release your mug shot and information about the charges to the media and the police may post your mug shot and information about your arrest on their Facebook and social media pages.
By getting Scott involved early on, he may be able avoid a number of these stressful and embarrassing steps and and get you or your loved one released as quickly as possible.
Someone I care about was just arrested. What do I do?
Call Scott immediately. It is critical that your loved one consults with Scott and that law enforcement be informed that your loved one has an attorney as quickly as possible. Not only will law enforcement attempt to question your loved one, soon your loved one may be in court where issues like bail and conditions of release will be decided. These initial stages following arrest are critically important for a defense attorney to be involved in so that the client’s rights are protected and so law enforcement, the prosecutors and the court begin hearing a real defense from the start.
The police want to speak to me. Should I?
Maybe, but call Scott first to see if it's in your interest to. No matter what the police tell you (they can lie to you), you have no obligation to speak to them or provide them any information. If the police start asking you questions, politely tell them you want to be cooperative and request their contact information so that your attorney can contact them. Requesting a lawyer does not mean you have something to hide or that you did something wrong, even if the police say otherwise.
Even if you are only a witness, you may unintentionally provide information to law enforcement that is harmful to you or to someone you care about. The safe thing to do is to call Scott, and he can contact the police to find out why they want to speak to you. Then you can make an informed decision on whether you should speak to the police.
Remember, you never have to answer questions asked by the police and the police cannot force you to speak to them – no matter what they tell you. The only way the Government can compel you to speak is by serving you with a subpoena to testify in court and even then, you have many rights that protect you. If the police try speak to you, politely request their contact information and tell them your attorney will call them.
I’ve been served with a subpoena. What do I do?
Call Scott to see how you should respond to the subpoena. Just because a subpoena asks for something, does not mean the requesting party has a legal right to it. This is critically important with privileged information like health care records and attorney-client communications as well as highly sensitive information such as company trade secrets. Experienced legal counsel like Scott will know how to guide you or your company through the response process to make sure that your rights and the rights of your clients, patients and business partners' are protected. Additionally, if you are subpoenaed to testify during a legal proceeding, you should consult with Scott to know what rights you have so that they are protected.
A subpoena can also be challenged in court. This process is called quashing a subpoena. Just because someone or some governmental entity claims it has subpoena power does not necessarily make it so. An attorney experienced with handling subpoenas and responding to them will be able to advise you about whether the subpoena can be challenged.
In criminal cases, subpoenas are often issued by a Grand Jury that is investigating a crime and will require either a person’s testimony, the production of documents/data to the Grand Jury or both. Witnesses can also be served with subpoenas by either the prosecution or the defense requiring them to testify at a court proceeding or produce documents/data to the court. In civil cases, subpoenas can be issued by attorneys for either the Plaintiff or the Defendant to produce documents and testimony.
Scott knows how to handle these issues. He routinely advises and guides companies and individuals through the subpoena process in both criminal investigations and civil proceedings. If you or your company have been served with a subpoena, contact Scott to discuss how to proceed.
What happens at an arraignment or initial court appearance?
At the arraignment a judge formally advises the defendant of what the charge is against them, what their rights are, and determine whether bail or any conditions of release should be set. Arraignment is a critical stage in the defense process because it is the first time that a judge (and many times the prosecutor) will hear about the allegations. Having an attorney with you at the arraignment to begin advocating for you immediately is critical to starting your defense and framing the case for the court and the prosecutor. Having experienced counsel with you will also increase your chances of limiting any conditions of release, setting of reasonable bail and, if necessary, making whatever arrangements are needed to get you in and out of court and police custody as quickly and painlessly as possible.
If you or a loved one has their arraignment or initial court appearance coming up, contact Scott to understand what your rights are and what needs to be done to get prepared.
Can the Police lie to me?
Yes. The police can lie, trick and deceive. They can tell you they have an eyewitness who implicates you in the crime when that’s not true. They can tell you someone saw you commit the crime when that is not true. They can tell you that they have your fingerprints, DNA or other evidence against you and even show you something they claim is a test result that backs up what they say when that is not true. They do this to try and get you to admit guilt or make statements that they can use against you and it is legal for them to do so. That’s why before you agree to speak to the police, you should contact Scott and determine whether speaking to the police is in your best interests.
What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
A felony is a crime that is punishable by more than a year in prison, more than a $1,000 fine and typically five or more years of probation.
A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a year or less of jail time, $1,000 fine or less and typically three years or less of probation. Many people wrongly believe that a misdemeanor is not serious. A misdemeanor conviction creates a permanent criminal record that may need to be disclosed on job or license applications and will likely appear on background checks.
All criminal allegations need to be taken seriously because the consequences are serious for both felonies and misdemeanors.
What’s the difference between a federal and state crime?
Federal jurisdiction and federal crimes are limited to interstate and international matters or crimes that occur on exclusive federal property such as a federal building or military base. In the Northern District of New York (which includes Saratoga County and the Capital Region), the federal government typically prosecutes immigration offenses dealing with the Canadian border; drug and gun trafficking crimes, child pornography and human trafficking crimes, financial crimes and frauds that involve the use of internet, phones, mail or banking system, health care fraud, and crimes involving federal government programs like social security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The federal government does not normally prosecute DWI offenses, burglaries, assaults or many other property or violent crimes unless the events occurred on federal property or there is federal jurisdiction. These crimes are typically prosecuted by the District Attorney for the County the crime occurred in and in some cases, the Attorney General for the State of New York.
There can be a lot of overlap in federal and state investigations and prosecutions and understanding how these two systems work can be important to getting the best possible result. Scott routinely handles both federal and New York State criminal investigations and crimes. If you are under investigation for violating a federal or state crime or facing a criminal charge, contact Scott to understand what your options are.
What is a defense attorney?
When a person is accused of breaking the law, they will typically need to hire a criminal defense attorney. These attorneys are responsible for representing the defendant’s legal interests in court and ensuring that their rights are protected throughout the criminal process. They do this by studying the facts of the case and preparing a legal strategy to challenge any potential evidence or arguments presented in favor of the prosecution.
Criminal defense attorneys will also counsel their clients on what plea bargaining options may be available, such as reduced charges or lesser sentences, and help them understand all of their legal rights during every stage of proceedings. Additionally, these lawyers can provide advocacy outside of the courtroom if necessary, negotiating with prosecutors and other parties for better outcomes for their clients.
Criminal defense attorneys are a vital part of the criminal justice system, and their expertise helps ensure that defendants receive fair treatment as they work through the legal process. It's important for anyone facing criminal charges to remember that they don't have to go through it alone—hiring a qualified criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable assistance and support.