Think You Should Plead Guilty in NY? Check with a Qualified Defense Attorney in Western NY First
If you are considering whether to plead guilty in NY state, the best place to start is by consulting an experienced defense attorney in western NY to learn all of your legal options. These alternatives include pretrial diversion, procedural and substantive defenses, or probation, which may reduce your sentencing time, leave your criminal record clean or get the case dismissed entirely.
Read Before You Plead Guilty in NY
It’s commonly said that a defense attorney is simply a person who helps you get what is coming to you. In other words, since plea bargains resolve almost all criminal cases and the terms are pretty much set, at least in most cases, there is little need for a top attorney. This mindset is not entirely off base.
Yes, plea bargains resolve most criminal matters, especially federal cases, and often the terms of these agreements – including the length of probation – are set in stone. Under the Federal Sentencing Act, prosecutors usually offer the same deals on the same cases to all defendants. The only variable, which is fixed, is the defendant’s criminal record.
So, if you are willing to take the first offer, no matter how good or bad it is, you probably do not need legal representation. But just like any other negotiation, there is usually a better plea deal available, especially if the defendant has a strong advocate and a possible defense. Only a Rochester defense attorney can secure better terms.
Better Alternatives to Pleading Guilty in NY From a Trusted Defense Attorney in Western NY
Learn about your other legal options and the advantages they offer compared to pleading guilty in New York, covered in the list below:
Before we talk about possible criminal defenses, let’s talk about pretrial diversion. Prosecutors usually offer such alternatives if the defendant has no criminal history and gets charged with a nonviolent crime. This option is generally available in other cases if a criminal defense attorney in western NY asks for it. Prosecutors do not hand out pretrial diversion like candy on Halloween.
Diversion programs vary in different courts. Usually, the defendant must pay restitution, if applicable, and complete some other requirements, like community service hours, a self-improvement class, or a substance abuse evaluation. If the defendant jumps through all these hoops, prosecutors dismiss the case.
Pretrial diversion has several advantages. These arrangements usually involve limited or no court supervision. The case ends earlier, so defendants can get on with their lives. Perhaps most importantly, if prosecutors dismiss the case, the defendant has no criminal conviction record.
A criminal defense attorney in Western NY doesn’t only use procedural and substantive defenses at trial. Attorneys use these defenses as negotiating leverage. As the chances of a not-guilty verdict rise, the prosecutor’s offer gets better.
Procedural defenses usually involve a violation of the Bill of Rights. Searches and seizures are an excellent illustration. Police officers typically need a warrant or probable cause to do these things. Without one or the other, the seized evidence could be inadmissible in court. If the defense is strong enough, prosecutors will make a deal rather than risk it all on a hearing.
A substantive defense usually means a lack of evidence. Frequently, defendants are morally guilty, but prosecutors cannot prove it in court. Assume Sam sneaks up behind Jim in a parking lot and clubs him on the head with a baseball bat. If there were no other witnesses, the state would have a hard time proving Sam was guilty, at least beyond a reasonable doubt.
We mentioned court supervision (probation) earlier. Primarily for financial reasons, pretty much everyone receives probation. Incarceration costs money, but probationers pay supervision and other fees.
Especially if a defense is present, either regular probation or deferred adjudication might be available. Regular probation is, well, regular. If defendants obey all conditions of probation, they stay out of jail. For practical purposes, deferred adjudication is the same. But if the defendant completes deferred adjudication probation, the judge dismisses the case, and the defendant has no criminal record.
The defendant need not complete probation perfectly. A Rochester defense lawyer can usually still get the case dismissed if a few issues along the way. This form of probation is prevalent in New York. The Empire State has minimal expungement laws. So, once a conviction is on your record, it usually stays there forever.
Work with a Dedicated Defense Attorney in Western NY
Plea bargains resolve most criminal matters, and there are usually multiple options available. Before you decide to plead guilty in NY, get a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer by contacting the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.