Choosing a Criminal Attorney

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FAQs - New York Criminal Court

I was wrongfully arrested. How long will it take to get the charges dismissed?

It depends on the charges and the circumstances. Unless the police made a mistake, arresting you instead of your neighbor, a criminal case will last at least two months. You and your attorney will appear for a few court dates to determine whether any charges should be dismissed or whether evidence should be suppressed. Most cases will end during this pretrial process due to a plea bargain, Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), Conditional Discharge, or dismissal.

Will I get bail?

The seriousness of the offense and the criminal history of the defendant will play the biggest role in determining the amount of bail. Usually, the court will allow bail. The question is: can you afford it? A good attorney must take the bail hearing seriously, not just conduct a cursory interview on a public defender assembly-line. He must make all of the proper legal arguments for getting the lowest possible bail. A private attorney will ask for a rehearing if the first hearing still ends up with an overly-aggressive bail.

It is important to hire an attorney early to allow him to prepare for the arraignment and bail hearing(s).

I Don’t Qualify for a Public Defender – What Happens Next?

The judge will tell you to get an attorney. If you fail to show up with an attorney to a future court date, the judge may adjourn your case. As time passes, important deadlines for filing motions or obtaining evidence will pass. In misdemeanor cases, the prosecutor may ask the defendant to plead guilty to a misdemeanor or violation. In felony cases, the prosecutor may present the case to the Grand Jury. After the Grand Jury returns an indictment, most chances for a favorable plea bargain will go out of the window.

The longer a person waits to hire a New York criminal attorney, the lower the chances for a favorable outcome. The city and the state cannot afford to provide a free attorney to most defendants, and the rules are designed to force a defendant to retain counsel or to plead guilty.

If a defendant stalls, asks for more court dates, and drags out a case — the chances for an unfavorable outcome and criminal record will increase.

How can I pay for a private attorney?

Attorneys use different methods for charging clients. In New York, many criminal attorneys use flat fees. Each attorney will have different rules about acceptable payment, multiple payments, and total cost.

Can I wait to hire an attorney? Maybe it will cost less if I show up to the initial hearing alone or with a public defender?

Most criminal attorneys use standardized flat fees, so waiting to hire an attorney will not save much money. Instead, the passage of time can seriously damage a defense as each of the many deadlines expire for motions, subpoenas, and other methods of discovering evidence.

Many parts of the pretrial criminal process are time sensitive. Motions must be submitted within a short time period after the arrest and the appearance of counsel. Subpoenas for important documents and evidence must be sent out quickly before the evidence is destroyed or lost. Most cases are won by the work an attorney does at the beginning of the case. Waiting to hire a criminal attorney is a common way for defendants to shoot themselves in the foot.

If a judge tells a defendant to get an attorney, the defendant must get an attorney. Otherwise, the judge can drag out the hearing for months or years, and the defendant will have to hire an attorney anyway. Only the poorest defendants qualify for a public defender.
Attorney Advertising: All content sponsored by The Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua, LLC. Although informational, this website may be considered attorney advertising. Every case has unique circumstances, and a person should consult a criminal attorney before taking any legal action.