1. What to do if the Police Contact You?
The short and simple answer is: Call a lawyer.
Unfortunately, if the Police have contacted you, there is a high probability that they intend to arrest you. If they are being vague or evasive as to the reason you should come down to the station to talk with them, or, if the reason they are asking you to come down to the station just simply doesn't make sense, it is even more likely that they intend to arrest you.
The Police do this for a specific reason, instead of just arresting you. They want you to confess or make some sort of incriminating statement! It is a common misconception that the Police cannot question you without reading you your “Miranda Rights.” Unfortunately, that is simply not true.
The Police must only read you your “Miranda Rights” once they have arrested you. If you voluntarily go to the police station for a “conversation” or invite the Police into your home “just to talk” or “to clear something up” (famous police jargon for we want to arrest you, but first we want you to spill your guts) the Police are under no obligation to inform you of your “Miranda Rights”
Even if you are sure you are 100% innocent of whatever it is the Police may be investigating, it is still unwise to have any conversations with the Police without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Remember, you have no idea what the Police already know or don't know. What may seem like a harmless statement might be providing the Police with vital information that they don't already have.
For instance, you may state that you were at a certain address at a particular day and time (even if you weren't doing anything wrong), but now the Police have your “admission” that you were at that particular place. They don't need to prove it anymore! Even if you are innocent, you have now made the Prosecutor's job of convicting you easier because he will not have to prove that you were at that specific address.
Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you whether or not you should speak to the Police. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can determine if your actions will subject you to any criminal liability. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect you from making an incriminating statement to the police.
If the Police leave notice that they want to speak to you or you have been stopped by the police for questioning, this is what you should do:
Tell the Police only your name, address, telephone number, birth date and social security number (this is known as pedigree information and you can always safely give this to the Police).
Inform the Officer that you want to call an attorney and you have nothing to say until you have spoken to an attorney.
(Many people worry about this because they fear it will make them look suspicious. If the police are questioning you… they are already suspicious! Anyway, the fact that you asked to speak to a lawyer can NEVER be used against you.)
If the police ask to search you, your car, your home, your bag, or anything that you own,REFUSE!!! If the Police persist in the search, continue to express your refusal to such a search but NEVER physically resist.
Many people think that by talking to the police and being cooperative they will be able to avoid arrest. Remember, if the police have contacted you, THEY PROBABLY INTEND TO ARREST YOU. DO NOT BE HELPFUL! You will only be making their case easier for them.
Do not let your fear of an arrest lead you to making foolish statements to the police. It is better to spend a night in jail then to later be convicted of a crime and serve additional time! Remember, if the police have contacted you, it doesn't matter what you say… THEY WILL PROBABLY ARREST YOU.
The only thing you should do is tell the police you want an attorney and you should then call an experienced criminal defense attorney at Simon & Milner who can help guide you through this process.
The Police may tell you that by talking you will make things easier on yourself. They may even tell you they will let you go if you just admit what you did. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. IT IS ALL LIES. The Police, are ALLOWED TO LIE as a means of interrogation or investigation.
If the police contact you. Call Simon & Milner immediately.
2.- I have been arrested/My friend/neighbor/loved one has been arrested!
Being arrested can be a rather frightening time. You're handcuffed, thrown into a police car and taken to a station. You have no idea what is going to happen to you or how long you will be in Police Custody.
Sometimes, being a relative or friend of someone who has been arrested can be just as scary. That person often times seemingly disappears for a day or two with no trace.
If you or a loved one has been arrested, this is what you should expect:
First of all REMAIN SILENT. Only tell the Police your name, address, phone number and social security number.
You will first be handcuffed and taken to the local Police precinct.
You will spend several hours in this precinct as the Police complete all of the necessary paperwork in order to process your arrest.
At some point, they will sit down with you to get information from you. Feel free to tell the Police your home address, phone number, social security number and date of birth. Other than that REMAIN SILENT. You have no obligation to tell the Police anything else!
The Police will want to take your fingerprints and mug shots. That is fine. But DO NOT consent to any additional testing, searches, etc…
At this point, the Police should allow you to make a telephone call to a lawyer, loved one, or a friend to let them know what happened to you.
After that, the Police will take you to a holding cell where you will await arraignment.
Arraignment is the final stage of an initial arrest. An arraignment is the first time you will get to see a judge. Whether you are innocent or guilty does not matter at an arraignment, it is not the time to discuss the merits of your case. The purpose of an arraignment is so that the Court may officially advise you of the charges against you, and so that the Judge can decide how much bail to set, if at all.
Arraignments occur at a VERY quick pace. A person without knowledge of the legal system will have little to no idea what is going on. The attorneys and Judge will be seemingly speaking in “code” and mentioning various sections of law which will mean nothing to you. It may just sound like a lot of numbers!
Although guilt or innocence is not decided at this proceeding, it is a very important proceeding. The arraignment will determine if you will get to go home for dinner, of if you will be returning to a jail cell.
An experienced criminal defense attorney from Simon & Milner will be able to assist you in navigating your way through the arraignment. If you do not have an attorney waiting for you at the arraignment, the Judge will ask a legal aid attorney to represent you for the purposes of the arraignment.
How does the arraignment work?
The Judge will set bail based on a number of factors. These factors include:
The nature of the offense (How serious a crime are you charged with).
Your address in relation to the location of the courthouse (If you are a local resident, your bail will probably be set lower).
The length of time you have lived at your current address (obviously, the longer the better).
Who you live with (A person living with their wife and kids will probably have bail set lower than a single person on the theory that someone with a family is less likely to skip bail).
Employment/Student status (If you are employed that will help).
Presence of family at the arraignment (Judges usually like to see someone there to support you).
Number of prior arrests.
Number of prior missed appearances.
Warrants for your arrest.
After the Prosecutor and your attorney make their arguments regarding bail, the Judge will the make an immediate decision. 1 of 3 possible outcomes will occur:
The Judge will grant ROR: ROR means Released on your own recognizance.
This means that the Judge does not think you are at all a risk to fail to appear at your next court date. You will be released immediately and no one will have to post bail for you.
An aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney can help improve your chances of being granted ROR. The Court will assume you are less likely to flee if you have already hired an attorney.
The Judge will order Remand: This is a very rare occurrence. This means that the Judge thinks that under no circumstances should you be released. With very little exception this is reserved for a person charged with a murder, arson, kidnapping, other major felony, or someone suffering from a mental illness.
The Judge will grant bail - This is the most common outcome.
When the Judge sets bail he will usually set 2 different numbers (e.g. Bail is set at $5,000 over $10,000).
The smaller number is the amount that must be posted if a person is putting up cash bail directly to the Court.
The larger number is the amount that must be posted if you hire a bail bondsman to post the bail for you.
If bail is set, you will be brought back into the holding cells. Someone must go to the Court and post bail in order to secure your release.
Bail may only be posted with cash or a CERTIFIED check. The court will not accept credit cards, personal checks or any other form of payment. (Many courts accept credit cards for fines and filing fees, however, this still DOES NOT apply to bail).
How do I find out When my friend/loved one will be arraigned? What do I do next?
Once someone has been arrested they become just “a number in the system” and they can be very difficult to locate if you don't know how to find them. Oftentimes, this is very frustrating to a loved one or relative who wishes to attend the arraignment and bail a person out if necessary.
In order to track a person down you will need an arrest number. You can get this number by calling the local precinct that placed that particular person under arrest. Once the precinct has processed that person and sent them to Court to await arraignment there will be an arrest number.
With that information, you can then call the clerk of the criminal court of the appropriate county (arraignment part if they have one) and tell them their arrest number. They will either tell you that the person is “not ready” or “not in the system” or you will be told that that defendant is “court ready” or “on the calendar.” The latter means that that person will be brought out for arraignment shortly (usually within a couple of hours).
We always recommend that you attend the arraignment of a family member or loved one as your attendance demonstrates to the Judge that the defendant has a family support system and the Judge will be less likely to set a high bail amount.
We also recommend that you retain the services of Simon & Milner, ESQS. or another experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the arraignment process. Simon & Milner will be able to track down the defendant for you and determine when they will be brought out for arraignment. Simon & Milner will be able to attend the arraignment and argue for the defendant to be released ROR (no bail). Simon & Milner will explain the entire process to you. We will walk you through the steps of bailing your friend or loved one out if necessary and we will be there to answer questions as we await the arraignment.
If you have a friend or loved one who has just been arrested, call Simon & Milner today!!!
4.- Where Do I Need To Go For My Court Date
There is more than 1 criminal court building in each county on Long Island and in NYC and therefore you must refer to your documents or tickets to determine the actual courthouse you must go to.
If you don't know what court building to go to, click here
to look up your case online (Please note that if you have an appearance ticket and have not appeared in court yet, this system may not work for you)
An experienced attorney from Simon & Milner will be able to assist you in determining where you need to go for your court appearance.
Assuming you know which courthouse you need to go to, below is a list of addresses for all of the criminal courthouses (not including local village courts) on Long Island and NYC:
Bronx County Criminal Court (Hall of Justice) (handles all criminal matters)
265 E. 161st Street
Bronx, NY 10451(718) 618-3100
Kings County Criminal Court (Misdemeanors and Violations)
120 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201(646) 386-4500
Kings County Supreme Court – Criminal Division (felonies)
320 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201(347) 296-1076
Nassau County First District Court (Misdemeanors and Violations)
99 Main Street
Hempstead, NY 11550(516) 572-2355
Nassau County Court (Felonies)
262 Old Country Road
Mineola, NY 11501(516) 571-2800
Nassau County Court – West Wing
252 Old Country Road
Mineola, NY 11501
New York County
New York City Criminal Court (Misdemeanors and Violations)
100 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013(646) 386-4500
New York City Supreme Court – Criminal Term (Felonies)
100 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013(646) 386-4301
or (646) 386-4301
Queens County Criminal Court/Queens Supreme Court – Criminal Division
125-01 Queens Blvd
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Criminal Court Phone Number: (212) 374-5880
Supreme Court Phone Number: (718) 298-1000
Richmond County Criminal Court (Misdemeanors & Violations)
26 Central Avenue
Staten Island NY 10301(718) 675-8558
Richmond County Supreme Court, Criminal Term (Felonies)
18 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301(718) 675-8760
Suffolk County First District Court (Misdemeanors & Violations)
Cohalan Court Complex
400 Carleton Avenue
Central Islip, NY 11722(631) 853-7500
Suffolk County Court (Felonies)
Cromarty Court Complex
Criminal Courts Building
210 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901(631) 852-1462
5.- How long will this case take to resolve?
This is one of the most common questions that we hear. Unfortunately, there is no specific answer that we can give you. Every case is different. Sometimes a case is resolved in one (1) court appearance, other times, it may take thirty (30) court appearances, or even more.
However, for your own sanity, you should expect your case to take several months, that way, if it does resolve quickly you will be pleasantly surprised. However, many cases do drag on for what may seem like an eternity. Sometimes this is because your attorney is fighting to get a specific piece of evidence thrown out of court, other times it is because he is trying to leverage you the best possible deal with the District Attorney.
In other words, patience is a virtue. While the criminal charge may be hanging over your head for some time, in the long run, this was to your benefit! Remember, if you ever went to trial, the more time that has passed, the less details that witnesses will be able to remember, and the less reliable their testimony will be against you.
6.- How Serious Is My Charge/What Types Of Penalties Am I Facing?
Although all criminal charges are serious, some are more serious than others. There are 3 categories of crimes in New York State; Violations, Misdemeanors and Felonies. If you are unsure what type of crime you have been charged with an experienced criminal defense attorney from Simon & Milner will be able to review the charges against you and determine the level of offense with which you have been charged.
A violation is the least serious type of offense in New York State. Technically, a violation is not a “crime” it is just as it sounds, a violation. That means that a conviction would not give you a criminal record. However, there can still be significant consequences.
A conviction of a violation can subject you to up to fifteen (15) days in jail as well as the imposition of fines. You may also be ordered to attend various programs depending on the nature of the offense (i.e. anger management classes for a harassment conviction). Furthermore, even though such a conviction is not a crime, it could affect you for purposes of immigration status and Federal Student Aid.
Examples of violations include harassment, simple trespass, and simple possession of marijuana.
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense. Although crimes that are classified as misdemeanors may not seem very serious, the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction are quite serious. A conviction will result in you having a criminal record for the rest of your life. Your fingerprints and mug shots will remain “in the system” forever. The conviction will show up anytime a potential employer runs a background check on you. The conviction will follow you for life. There are two (2) categories of misdemeanors, A misdemeanors and B misdemeanors. A misdemeanors are considered more serious than B misdemeanors.
A conviction of a misdemeanor can subject you to up to one (1) year in jail (3 months for a B misdemeanor) or up to three (3) years on probation (1 year for a B misdemeanor) as well as the imposition of fines and various other conditions.
Examples of misdemeanors include simple assault, possession of a small quantity of certain controlled substances, petit larceny, and certain DWI offenses.
A felony is the most serious type of crime you can be charged with. The consequences of a felony conviction can be devastating to your life. In addition to the penalties, you will be branded as a “convicted felon” for the rest of your life. Convicted felons lose the right to hold many different types of licenses as well as many other civil rights that you may take for granted. Many employers will refuse to hire a person with a felony conviction.
Felonies are categorized as E felonies, D felonies, C felonies, B felonies, A-II felonies, and A-I felonies with A-I felonies being the most serious (1st degree murder, 1st degree kidnapping, etc…).
A conviction of a felony will subject you to a minimum of one (1) year in state prison up to a maximum of life (depending on the type of felony with which you are charged) and/or five (5) years of probation as well as post supervision release, fines and a host of other conditions depending upon the nature of your offense.
Felonies include all crimes more serious than misdemeanors and could include grand larceny (theft of more than $1,000), repeat DWI offenses, drug sale offenses, violent assaults, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, etc.
There are 3 major categories of penalties to which you could be sentenced if you are convicted of any types of offense. They are as follows:
it is just like it sounds. Even though you have been convicted, the court will “discharge” you subject to various conditions (e.g. 50 hours of community service, complete a substance abuse program, complete an anger management program, make full restitution, etc…). The court will require you to check in every few weeks to ensure that you are adhering to the required conditions. Repeated violations of the conditions could subject you to additional penalties including jail time.
With almost no exception, this punishment is usually reserved only for violations and misdemeanors.
A sentence of probation is not as easy or simple as some make it out to be. You are considered to be “released into the custody of probation” for the term of your probationary sentence (1 year for B misdemeanors, 3 years for A misdemeanors, 5 years for felonies, with additional time on probation for certain offenses).
For misdemeanors, you can receive up to 60 days in jail in addition to probation.
For felonies, you can receive up to 6 months in jail in addition to probation.
You cannot receive a sentence of probation from a conviction of a violation; only for a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
You will be assigned a probation officer who essentially is in charge of everything you do during the term of your probation. You will have to call in to your probation officer however often he requires. You need your probation officer's permission if you wish to leave the area. You will have to meet with him personally however often he requires. Very often they will impose an additional list of restrictions on you as well (curfew, no alcohol, etc…). They will drug test you, randomly show up to your house, and conduct various other spot checks.
Should you violate the terms of your probation, your probation officer can arrest you for violating the terms and you may be subject to additional penalties including jail time.
Obviously, this is the most serious penalty you can receive. Jails are run by the counties and this is where people awaiting trial or serving sentences of less than one (1) year remain. Prisons are state institutions and this is where the term “being sent upstate” comes from. Prisons are where those already convicted of crimes and sentenced to terms of imprisonment greater than one (1) year are sent.
If you are convicted of a violation you could be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail.
Misdemeanor conviction could subject you to up to 12 months in jail (3 months for a B misdemeanor).
Felony convictions can subject you to prison of at least one year up to a maximum of life depending on the level of felony you have been convicted of.
In addition to the above penalties, the court will almost certainly assess various fines and surcharges after the conviction of any offense. Depending on the nature of the offense, a fine could be as low as $25 or as high as $10,000 or more
7.- What Is A Plea Bargain And how Do I Get One?
Many people have heard of the term plea bargaining but are not really sure what it means or how it works.
Plea bargains are offered by the District Attorney for a variety of reasons. An aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney can help get you the best plea bargain possible. Essentially, in plea bargaining, the defendant is agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge or the same charge but with a substantially reduced penalty.
The weaker the evidence that the District Attorney has against you, as well at the more positive factors about yourself that we can tell the District Attorney, the more favorable a plea bargain can be obtained. The District Attorney wants to minimize risk and they know that many defendants feel the same way (they don't want to lose cases, and they know you don't want to be found guilty)
Even if the prosecutor has very strong evidence against you, your attorney will attempt to demonstrate to the DA that the crime with which you have been charged with was an isolated incident and that you're really “a nice guy.” Very often, if it is your first offense the District Attorney might be very generous with a plea offer.
The major reason for this is that the District Attorney simply does not have time to take every case to trial, so essentially if you make their life easier, they can help make your life easier. However, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can properly leverage the facts of your case and your personal situation so as to obtain the best deal from the prosecutor.
There are a variety of other reasons that an experienced attorney may be able to leverage a favorable plea bargain for you; the district attorney's evidence may be weak, an officer involved in the arrest may have made a serious procedural error, a witness may be unavailable, as well as countless other reasons.
The point is, although you would always like to be found not guilty, you need an experienced attorney who is adept at achieving favorable plea results when the situation calls for it.
The most favorable outcome of a plea negotiation is the District Attorney offering an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). In such a case, the court would put your case on hold for six (6) to twelve (12) months. If you stay out of trouble during that period of time, the charges against you will simply be dismissed. Usually, a plea bargain such as this is reserved for the most minor of offenses.
If an ACD is not possible, especially if it is a more serious offense, an attorney may be able to get an offer to plead to Disorderly Conduct. Disorderly conduct is a violation and not a crime, and therefore, although it is not an outright dismissal, the result is much better than a criminal conviction where the District Attorney has strong evidence against you.
On more serious charges where the District Attorney has strong evidence, a plea offer will usually be to a lesser included charge. For example, a person charged with grand larceny may be offered a plea bargain to plead guilty to petit larceny (with a promise of a substantially reduced punishment).
An experienced criminal defense attorney from Simon & Milner will give you a realistic evaluation of your case and be able to give you his opinion as to whether or not he thinks you should consider a plea bargain and what type of plea bargain you can expect to receive.
An attorney at Simon & Milner understands how to use every factor that is in your favor to your advantage so that we may leverage you the best possible deal from the District Attorney.
8.- When Can I contact you if I have Questions?
The short answer is… anytime. Simon & Milner is always here to answer your questions and take care of your worries and other problems. We encourage our clients to keep in regular contact with the office. Someone will almost always be here to answer your call.
Very often however, the attorney that you want to speak to may be in Court. If that is the case, we make it our goal to return EVERY phone call by the NEXT BUSINESS DAY. If you have an actual emergency, someone will get in touch with you MUCH sooner!