Criminal defense attorneys play a significant role in the justice system in the United States. Criminal defense attorneys, including Staten Island criminal lawyers, protect the constitutional and legal rights of people charged with crimes.
Criminal defense attorneys protect the vital rights of people facing criminal prosecution in a number of different ways. A person facing the prospect of criminal prosecution needs to understand the nature and extent for his or her constitutional and legal rights. Such an individual must also appreciate what must be done to protect these legal interests, including the importance of retaining the services of a skilled, experienced Staten Island criminal lawyer.
The Criminal Investigation
In some instances, a person becomes aware that he is she is the subject of a criminal investigation. Indeed, a person being investigated by law enforcement may become aware of a an investigation because the police make contact. The police may request an interview with a person who is the subject of a criminal investigation.
When a person becomes aware that he or she is being investigated based on an allegation that he or she has committed a crime, the time has comes for that individual to seek legal representation. The police are likely to advise the target of a criminal investigation that cooperating now will make “things” better on down the road. In fact, the exact opposite oftentimes is the case.
A person subject to a criminal investigation has an absolute right to decline to be interviewed or questioned. Such an individual need not submit to questioning by police outside the presence of legal counsel.
Therefore, if a request is made for a police interview, a person should politely, and yet firmly, advise that he or she needs to speak with legal counsel. In turn, a criminal defense attorney may well advise a client not to speak to the police. The stark reality is that little good typically comes from this sort of police interview.
Criminal Prosecution in New York
The court process commences directly after a person is arrested on a criminal charge. As a result, a person cannot sit quietly and do nothing when charged with a crime. He or she must diligently pursue engaging the services of a skilled, qualified lawyer.
Early on in the prosecution of a criminal case, the defendant appears in court and enters a plea. In the vast majority of cases, the plea initially entered in a case is “not guilty.” Only rarely does a criminal defendant plead guilty at the start of a prosecution.
In New York, as is the case across the United States, only a fraction of criminal cases ever proceed to trial. Plea agreements are reached during the pendency of the criminal prosecution. In fact, on the state and federal level, over 90 percent of criminal cases are resolved short of going to trial.
Oftentimes, a plea agreement will include a reduction in charges and some sort of concession regarding sentencing in a criminal case. A criminal defendant must always keep in mind that a judge is not bound by the terms and conditions of a plea agreement. While a judge nearly always does accept the sentencing recommendation contained in a plea agreement, he or she is not legally obliged to do so. Sentencing in New York is at the discretion of a judge, and not subject to the parameters of a plea agreement.
Common Defenses in a Criminal Case
Defenses mounted in a criminal case depend upon the crime charged and the facts and circumstances. With that said, there are some more common types of defenses mounted with regularity in a wide range of different types of criminal cases. These include a defense based on the contention that the defendant is not the proper person to be charged with the crime. In other words, the person being prosecuted is not the individual who committed the crime.
Another relatively common defense to a crime in New York is based on a contention that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Evidence that is obtained in an unconstitutional manner is excluded from the case. This does not necessarily mean a case will be dismissed outright. However, the exclusionary rule associated with the Fourth Amendment means that the prosecution will be prohibited from presenting certain evidence in court.
Retain a Skilled Staten Island Criminal Lawyer
Scheduling an initial consultation is the first step in hiring a Staten Island criminal lawyer. During this preliminary appointment, a person charged with a crime has the chance to ask questions. In addition, legal counsel will provide an evaluation of a case, including an analysis of possible defenses. As a general practice among the criminal defense bar, a lawyer does not charge a fee for an initial consultation in a criminal case.