Think You Should Plead Guilty in NY? Check with a Qualified Defense Attorney in Western NY First

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:

Pretrial Diversion

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.

Possible Defenses

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.

Sentencing Options

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.


A Defense Attorney Weighs In on Court-Ordered Rehab

A Defense Attorney Weighs In on Court-Ordered Rehab

The value of court-ordered rehab is being questioned these days due to a growing trend to see drug and other offenses as health and safety problems rather than criminal law issues.[1] For many years, the law took a lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to drug offenders.

Those times are changing. Former President Barack Obama pardoned almost 2,000 people during his eight years in office. Many of these individuals received harsh drug sentences for relatively minor offenses. In contrast, Obama’s predecessor, also a two-term President, granted less than two hundred pardons.[2]

Despite these ongoing social shifts, court-ordered rehab is still an integral part of pretty much every drug-related sentence in Monroe County. The same thing applies to alcohol evaluations in a DWI.

Clinical settings, like substance abuse rehab, often seem out of place in judicial settings. But fundamentally, these programs have different objectives. Therefore, a Rochester defense lawyer must anticipate some issues and be ready to deal with them. Otherwise, the defendant’s probation could be at risk.

Some Nuts and Bolts of Court-Ordered Rehab

Statistically, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are usually effective, at least in the short term.[3] This effectiveness usually fades after people go back to their old habits and old friends. However, in many cases, recovery is permanent, or at least long-lasting.

Typically, judges let defendants choose their own drug rehab facilities. Usually, the judge only sets general parameters, like program length. Many people select a facility that accepts their health insurance plans.

DWI alcohol evaluations work a little differently. Generally, the judge orders the defendant to complete a specific program. The state or county usually subsidizes the costs of such programs. These rules vary in different counties and even among different courts in the same county.

Possible Issues in Court-Ordered Rehab Programs

No matter what program the defendant must complete, here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Don’t Miss Any Appointments

Most people see the doctor on their own time. Usually, the doctor is in a familiar location. Furthermore, they schedule appointments at their convenience and usually cancel at the last minute with little or no penalty.

Court-ordered rehab programs or substance abuse evaluations are different. In most cases, the office tells defendants when and where to show up. If the assigned appointment is on the other side of town in the middle of the day, so be it.

It’s imperative to keep all appointments, even if they only involve follow-up or completing paperwork. Failure to appear usually causes clinics to add the dreaded “uncooperative” label to a file. At that point, many court-ordered rehab facilities dismiss program participants. Additionally, most judges are not very happy that defendants seemingly blew their second chances in these situations.

2. Don’t Deny the Problem

Denial, which is not just a river in Egypt, is the second major issue, especially for first-time offenders. Many facilities follow the 12-step recovery model, at least to an extent. The first step in this process is admitting that you have a problem. Unfortunately, if participants deny they have a problem, some facilities dismiss these individuals.

For example, let’s assume Brenda bought a few crack rocks for the first time from Kick. Unbeknownst to Brenda, Kick was an undercover officer. Kick immediately arrests Brenda for possession. The judge orders Brenda to attend court-ordered rehab, and the counselor asks her to admit she has a drug problem. When Brenda says she doesn’t have a crack addiction, the counselor might conclude that she’s in denial and therefore cannot be helped.

3. Choose the Right Rehab Facility

These issues are relatively easy to avoid. As mentioned, most defendants may choose their rehab facilities. A Rochester defense lawyer can help a first-time offender select a facility that specializes in such cases.

If worst comes to worst and the facility dismisses the defendant, a lawyer can quickly find another. Judges usually don’t particularly care about the location or effectiveness of court-ordered rehab, as long as the defendant is in a facility somewhere.

Work with a Dedicated Attorney

Court-ordered rehab could be life-changing, or it could be very aggravating. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.