1. I’ve been arrested, what happens now?
For fairly minor offenses, the arresting officer may gave you something called a “Desk Appearance Ticket.” This means you will be allowed to go home soon after the arrest, but under the condition that you appear in court at a later date for your official arraignment. For most offenses however, you will be taken to the local police station, fingerprinted, booked, and then transferred to Central Booking at the county courthouse. From there you will be arraigned on the official charges that the DA’s office has decided to bring. You will be informed of what these charges are, and the judge will then decide whether to set bail (and if so, how much.) The judge’s decision will be based on the arguments from your lawyer and the Assistant District Attorney. For low-level charges, the ADA will probably offer you a plea bargain to end the case right away. Depending on the seriousness of the case, you will either take this plea bargain to end the case, or you will get a new court date for you to come back and proceed with fighting the charges. The arraignment is not a trial, so you should not expect anyone to come in and testify for or against you. That is for another date.
It is important to note that some NY counties have instituted programs where Detectives and Assistant DA’s meet with recently arrested people and attempt to interview them about the case. Do not forget that these people are not your lawyers! They work for the organization that is prosecuting you, not defending you. Do not speak to them under any circumstances. Insist on your right to having a lawyer present for any questioning. You will have ample opportunity to explain yourself to the DA’s office later should you and your attorney decide that is the correct path to take. They are being untruthful if they tell you that you will never have another opportunity to do explain yourself.
2. I’ve been arrested, but I’m innocent and have proof. Shouldn’t I just explain myself to the police?
Absolutely not! Even if you haven’t been arrested but are merely being questioned, you should never speak to the police without first consulting with an attorney. Even if the police imply that they’d like to help you, they may be trying to trick you into incriminating yourself. Police officers routinely lie to people whom they suspect have committed a crime, including telling them that other people have incriminated them in the matter at hand. You should always tell the police (and if applicable, the DA’s Office) that you will not speak to them without your attorney present. Should you find yourself in a situation where you are being questioned by a law enforcement agency, do not hesitate to call the Reibstein Law Group at (347) 553-0783.
3. I haven’t been arrested, but the police say they want to speak to me. What do I do?
Never speak the police without your lawyer present, under any circumstances. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, for all you know the police suspect you of something and you are digging yourself into a deeper hole by talking to them. Don’t forget, in the event that you later find yourself arrested anything you previously told them can be used against you. If the police want to speak with you, speak with us first.
4. How much time am I facing?
That question depends on what level offense you are being charged with. In general, violations of law have a maximum of 15 days in jail, B-Level Misdemeanors have a maximum of 90 days, and A-Level Misdemeanors have a maximum of one year. Driving While Intoxicated is an “unclassified” Misdemeanor but also has a one year maximum sentence. Calculating the maximum sentence for a felony can be complicated, and often depends on how many prior convictions the person arrested has already accrued. Top level felonies can result in life imprisonment.
5. I’ve been arrested for DWI, what’s going to happen to my driver’s license?
If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test at the police station, your license will be automatically suspended by the DMV pending an administrative hearing about whether you were sufficiently informed of the consequences of refusal. If you do take the test and it is over the legal limit, the court will likely suspend your license pending prosecution on the DWI charges. In either case, it is possible to get a “conditional license” from the DMV allowing you to drive in limited circumstances while the case is pending.
If you end up convicted of misdemeanor or felonyl DWI your license will be suspended again and you will be forced to install an “ignition interlock” device on any cars you own or operate. This requirement is non-negotiable, as it is based upon a recent law enacted by the NY State Legislature. Installation of an ignition interlock device is a big commitment and should not be entered into lightly. You must discuss this at length with your attorney before deciding to plead guilty to criminal DWI.
6. I’m innocent and I want to go to trial right now. Can I?
An unfortunate part of living in and around a city as big as New York is that there are always a great number of cases pending, causing significant court congestion. It will likely take months, if not more, for a case to progress from arrest to trial. You must be patient. There are numerous things including plea negotiations, motion practice and suppression hearings, which must occur before any trial commences.
7. I don’t want to go to trial. What are my options?
The vast majority of arrests actually do not result in trials. They result in plea-bargains between the defendant and DA’s office whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a sentence much less than the maximum they were facing. In many cases, it is extremely advantageous to take a plea-bargain rather than go to trial. This all depends on the facts of the case and whether the DA has sufficient evidence to prove the allegations. Whether to take a plea deal or go to trial is something you and your attorney must discuss after they’ve learned more about the strengths and weaknesses of the DA’s case.
8. How much will it cost for you to represent me on a criminal case?
All fees on criminal cases are worked out on a case-by-case basis. The Reibstein Law Group is committed to providing exceptional representation at rates you will be able to afford.
9. Can you defend me on a contingency basis, meaning I only pay if you win?
Contingency fees are prohibited in criminal cases, pursuant to various ethical rules that all licensed attorneys must abide by. This is non-negotiable. However, contingency fees are allowed on other cases such as personal injury.
10. Do you handle anything other than criminal matters?
Yes, although criminal defense is the primary focus of the Reibstein Law Group, we also handle other matters ranging from business disputes to personal bankruptcy. In the event that you have a case which would require a specialist in another area, we would be happy to refer you to one of the countless other firms we are associated with.
(Disclaimer: The information found on this website, or through links to or from this website, is for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice, or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney. No Attorney-Client relationship has been established through this website. We advise you not to send confidential or time-sensitive information through our website or via email. Contacting the firm through email, the Internet or our website does not create an attorney-client relationship)