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Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 12:09 pm
Getting arrested can be scary. Even if you’re innocent, being hauled into a police station in handcuffs makes you feel like a criminal. And your first court appearance, called an arraignment, happens so fast you may not fully grasp what’s going on. That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced Queens arraignment lawyer on your side from the very start.
At your arraignment, you’ll be formally charged with a crime and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. A lot happens in those few minutes that can affect the outcome of your case. An arraignment lawyer knows the system and the prosecutors. They can advise you on the best legal strategy and try to negotiate with the district attorney for your release or a favorable plea deal right then and there.
This article will walk you through what to expect at a Queens criminal arraignment and how an experienced arraignment attorney can help. I’ll also give tips on how to choose the right lawyer for your situation. Let’s get started!
Arraignments in Queens take place at the Criminal Courthouse at 125-01 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. Defendants are brought before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest. Weekend and holiday arrests go before the judge on the next business day. Here’s the basic process:
Seems quick and straightforward, right? But a lot is happening behind the scenes that you need to understand.
The district attorney has drawn up formal charges based on the police report. You’ll be told the exact charges – like “assault in the second degree” or “driving while intoxicated.” The charges set the parameters for your case and what you’ll have to defend against. Some common Queens arraignment charges include:
The charges may change as the case progresses. But this is your first chance to hear specifically what the DA thinks you did wrong.
The judge will ask you to enter a plea to the charges. Your options are:
Pleading guilty means you get sentenced immediately based on the DA’s recommendation. Not guilty means you want to fight the charges at trial. No contest is generally not recommended at an arraignment.
Your arraignment lawyer will advise you on the best plea to enter. Often, it’s wisest to plead not guilty at this stage to keep your options open. You can always change your plea later after discussing the case with your attorney.
After your plea, the judge decides whether to set bail or release you. Bail is money you pay the court to be released until trial. The amount depends on the charges and your criminal history. For low-level crimes by first-timers, you may be released on your own recognizance (ROR) without paying bail.
However, bail is more common, and many defendants can’t afford to pay it. That’s where a Queens arraignment attorney comes in. They can argue to the judge that you’re not a flight risk, have community ties, and aren’t a danger. If the judge agrees, your lawyer may convince them to lower or waive the bail, release you ROR, or let you post bond through a bail fund.
Finally, the judge will schedule your next court appearance. For minor charges, this may be your trial date. For felonies, it’s usually a pre-trial hearing to allow both sides to exchange evidence and negotiate a settlement.
Getting the next court date months away buys your lawyer time to build your defense. An experienced arraignment attorney knows how to make these requests persuasively to win you time.
After learning what goes on at an arraignment, you can see why having a lawyer is so important. Here are some key reasons why you should never face an arraignment alone:
In short, a lawyer helps ensure you don’t get railroaded into a quick guilty plea and harsh punishment due to confusion, fear or intimidation.
Not just any lawyer will do for your arraignment. You want someone who specializes in this area of law and has extensive courtroom experience. Here are tips on picking the best attorney for your situation:
Hire a lawyer who is licensed in New York and practices regularly in Queens courts. They’ll have valuable relationships with prosecutors and judges.
Ask specifically how many arraignments they handle in Queens each month. Look for at least 10+ arraignments monthly to ensure extensive experience.
Choose a lawyer with many years as a criminal defense attorney and a track record of positive case results.
Talk to the lawyer in person or by phone before hiring them. Make sure you feel comfortable communicating with them.
Fees range from flat rates around $500 – $2000 to hourly billing around $100 – $300 per hour. Know what you’ll pay before deciding.
Check for positive reviews on Google, Avvo, Facebook and other sites. Beware of lawyers with many negative comments.
Following these tips will help you find an arraignment attorney with the skills and experience to get you the best possible outcome, whether that’s release ROR, reduced bail, dismissed charges or an advantageous plea bargain.
Once you’ve hired a qualified Queens arraignment attorney, what exactly will they do for you? Here are some of the most important services a good lawyer provides:
In other words, they use their expertise and relationships to help get you out of jail quickly, minimize charges, and buy time to build the strongest case possible. This immediately evens the playing field against the prosecution.
Wondering exactly how a Queens arraignment lawyer gets these positive results for clients? Here are some of their most effective strategies and tactics:
It takes creativity, resourcefulness and legal acumen to deploy tactics like these on the fly in the rapid-fire arraignment setting. That’s why specialized experience and training are so critical.
Skilled arraignment lawyers know which defenses work best at this early stage. Some of the most common and effective defenses raised include:
A good arraignment lawyer will assess which defenses could work for your specific case. Raising these early lays the groundwork for getting evidence thrown out and charges dismissed down the road.
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