Criminal Defense: FAQ

CRIMINAL DEFENSE | FAQ


What happens after an arrest?
What is an arraignment?
How does bail work?
What should I do if I’m falsely accused of a crime?
What is a misdemeanor?
What is a felony?
I was arrested for a felony. Does that mean I will face felony charges in court?
What is the difference between State and Federal Court?
I'm not a U.S. citizen. How will an arrest affect my immigration status?
The person who called the police on me decided not to prosecute, does that mean that no charges will be filed?
I feel like the police violated my constitutional rights. What can I do?

 

What happens after an arrest?

After an arrest, the police officer files a report on the crime, including a background check of the suspect, witness statements, and evidence of the crime committed. They then submit their findings to a prosecutor to determine if criminal charges are warranted. If charges are filed, the next step in the criminal process is an arraignment.


What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is the initial court proceeding where the defendant is informed of their charges and the possible penalties for those charges. This is where an initial plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ will be given. If the defendant is out on bail, they will remain free through court proceedings unless the prosecutor can present a reasonable case as to why the defendant is a flight risk.


How does bail work?

Bail is a financial assurance that the defendant will show up in court after being released from custody. There are two types of bail, cash and bond. Cash bail is when the entire bail is paid on behalf of the defendant without a bond agent. In cases that involve cash bail, the money is returned, in full, to the person who posted it, as long as the defendant continued to appear for their court proceedings, whether they’re guilty or not. A bail bond is when a bond agent is paid 10% of the total bond and puts up the rest of the money. In cases where a bond agent is used, the 10% is never returned because that is the fee for the service. If the defendant fails to show up to court on a bail bond, the bond agent will likely send a bail recovery agent (sometimes called a bounty hunter) to arrest the defendant and bring them to court.


What should I do if I’m falsely accused of a crime?

Many people are inclined to claim innocence when they’re arrested, so it’s easy to understand why the police would treat a claim of innocence with skepticism, whether it’s true or not. For a better understanding of what to do and what not to do if you’re falsely accused of a crime, check out our infographics on the subject:
What to do if you’re falsely accused of a crime.
What not to do if you’re falsely accused of a crime.
There are numerous cases where innocent people have gone to prison for crimes they didn’t commit. If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, it’s important to take it seriously.


What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a non-felony offence. Usually punishable by fines, forfeiture, penalty, or less than a year imprisonment in a county jail. In New York, there are three classifications of misdemeanor, Class A, Class B, and unclassified. Class A are the most serious misdemeanors, Class B are less serious, while unclassified misdemeanors are made up of both more and less serious offences. Class A misdemeanors in the state of New York carry a penalty of no more than a year in jail and no more than $1000 in fines. Class B misdemeanors carry a penalty of no more than three months in jail and no more than $500 in fines. The penalties for unclassified misdemeanors vary.


What is a felony?

A felony is a crime that is designated as a crime of “high seriousness.” A felony is characterized under federal and many state laws as any offense punishable by more than a year in prison or death.


I was arrested for a felony. Does that mean I will face felony charges in court?

Not necessarily. If you were arrested on felony charges, then it’s likely you’ll face felony charges in court, but that’s not always the case. The police do not decide the charges a defendant will face, the prosecutor does. The police can influence the decision of a prosecutor, but the prosecutor is under no obligation to charge a defendant with the exact charge they were arrested on.


What is the difference between State and Federal Court?

The main difference is in available resources. Federal agencies often investigate Federal court cases, such as the FBI, DEA, Customs, and the Treasury. These agencies have far more resources than local police departments. Federal prosecutors also have more resources at their disposal than state and local prosecutors.


I'm not a U.S. citizen. How will an arrest affect my immigration status?

A criminal conviction will usually result in deportation proceedings, but an arrest will not. We’ll review your case and immigration status and work with the prosecutor to possibly lower charges to something that doesn’t constitute a moral turpitude offense (offenses that are subject to deportation).


The person who called the police on me decided not to prosecute, does that mean that no charges will be filed?

It depends on the charge and the reason the person has decided not to prosecute. The police and prosecutors both know that there are numerous reasons why someone would change their mind about whether to charge the person they called the police on, and one of the big reasons is intimidation. If the person who called the police decides not to prosecute, they are interviewed about their change of heart, and, based on those discussions, the prosecutor will decide whether or not to go forward with charges.


I feel like the police violated my constitutional rights. What can I do?

We will fight to have any evidence or statements that were obtained by the police illegally exempted from the trial. Often, having evidence suppressed by a successful motion will cripple the prosecution’s case, resulting in a dismissal or substantially better plea deal.