New York City Law Firms
Criminal charges should never be taken lightly, even if the charge itself does not seem very serious. A conviction on your record, including those obtained by guilty plea, sets you up for much harsher treatment should you be charged with a crime in the future. It can also affect your career opportunities, your ability to obtain housing, and much more. Never plead guilty without talking to a criminal defense attorney first, even if your case seems hopeless. There are almost always defenses available which can reduce your charges, or possible result in your charges being dismissed.
Classifications of Crimes in New York
New York classifies crimes and felonies, misdemeanors, and violations. Violations are punishable by up to 15 days in jail. Misdemeanors can carry up to one year in jail, and a further broken down into Class A and Class B misdemeanors. Felonies carry over one year in a state prison. Felonies are further broken down into classes A – E, with Class A being the most serious and carry a potential life sentence in prison. Felonies are also classified as violent or non-violent, which affects sentencing.
Although a violation can carry a jail sentence, it is not technically considered a crime.
Your Rights Are Important
Exercising your legal rights from the very beginning can protect you later down the road.
If you waive your right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you. What that may mean is that your statements can be taken out of context and used against you, and if you are misquoted that can be used against you too.
You do not have to consent to a warrantless search. Illegal search and seizure are grounds to have your case dismissed. If you consent to a search, you give up to opportunity to raise illegal search and seizure as a defense.
It is standard procedure for the prosecutor to offer a defendant a plea deal. This involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge or pleading guilty to one of your charges in exchange for having other charges dropped. Sometimes, a plea bargain will be in your best interest, but in many cases it is just a way for the prosecution to secure a conviction without having to prove their case.
You should always talk to a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty. In many cases, your attorney can either get your charges dismissed or get you a better deal by showing the flaws in the prosecutor’s case.