Criminal Law 101


Criminal Court

The criminal court of New York is made up of the superior courts and the local criminal courts. The superiors courts have trial jurisdiction over all offenses and have exclusive jurisdiction over felonies, while the local criminal courts have trial jurisdiction over all offenses except felonies. The superior courts and the criminal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over misdemeanor offense, and in some cases the superior court may exercise its jurisdiction via indictment. Ex. If someone is charged with both felonies and misdemeanors, the district attorney can choose to indict all counts on the charging instrument. 

Speedy Trial

Speedy Trial is the time limitation placed on the district attorney in prosecuting your case. Per the 30.30 statute, the speedy trial time for a felony is six months, A misdemeanor is 90 days, B misdemeanor is 60 days, and a violation is  30 days. Often times due to workload and sometimes due to inexperience in calculating the time, the prosecutor can sometimes loose track of the speedy trial time. This is by far one of the most effective procedural tools that defense attorneys use to get dismissals or negotiate better plea bargains. You want a defense attorney who will look into every possible defense you may have, and who will use the procedural tools available to get you the most favorable result-and that's exactly what I'll do. 

The Accusatory Instrument

The accusatory instrument (also called "the complaint") must be facially sufficient in order for the case to move forward. The complaint must also be converted into an information before the case can move on to trial posture. Most complaints involving a victim or an eyewitness will not be converted at arraignment and this chips away time from the speedy trial time frame. While it's easy for the prosecutor to stop the speedy clock by either filing a supporting deposition of the third party named in the complaint or by filing a superseding information, a good defense attorney will pay close attention to the charging instrument and know when to make the appropriate arguments in order to protect your procedural defenses. 

Affirmative Defenses

  • Infancy
  • Justification 
  • Lack of Culpability 

Each of these defenses have more in-dept analysis and application. One of the first things I will do with your case is to evaluate your case to determine whether you have an affirmative defense.

Your Right to Remain Silent

You have a constitutional right to remain silent- use it. Law enforcement will use all kinds of trickery and tactics to get you to talk, but you must remember that whatever you say can and most likely will be used against you later. So the only thing you should be saying is  "I will not speak to you, I want an attorney." When you invoke your rights to an attorney, this should stop all questioning. 

Plea Negotiation

Let's be honest, as a former prosecutor I am aware that the prosecutor will almost always have the upper hand, BUT having a defense attorney who knows your case inside out will put you in a better position to negotiate a better plea offer. It also helps to have a defense attorney who will be aggressive when its necessary but also gets along well with the opposing side to get the best results for you.