Monroe County officials invest heavily in law enforcement and judicial authorities. The 2023 budget doubled the number of tactical officers and almost doubled the number of prosecutors.  Like the rest of us, when county officials invest heavily, they expect significant returns. So, to justify the investment, these agencies arrest and convict as many people as possible, whether or not they “did it.”
The influx of money also means cases are more solid when they go to court. Investigators have the resources to gather more evidence, and prosecutors no longer allow cases to slip through the cracks. A top criminal defense lawyer in Rochester is no longer a luxury in this environment. Defendants can no longer scrape by with the minimum and expect a positive result. Top criminal defense lawyers don’t grow on trees. In this post, we’ll examine some essential qualities a good lawyer must possess.
A suitable bedside manner is one of a doctor’s most important qualities. To a top criminal defense lawyer in Rochester, accessibility means more than bedside manners. It also means professional and physical accessibility.
Many lawyers only tell defendants about the direct consequences of a criminal conviction and favorably recommend any offer the prosecutor makes. An attorney should also tell defendants about the indirect consequences of a criminal conviction, such as possible immigration consequences. Furthermore, while a lawyer must convey all settlement offers to a defendant, a lawyer should discuss the pros and cons.
Professional accessibility means your lawyer is your lawyer from start to finish. Attorneys shouldn’t hide behind less-experienced associates or nonlawyer paralegals.
As for physical accessibility, criminal cases are time-consuming enough as it is. Defendants shouldn’t have to drive across town just to see their lawyers. Furthermore, many lawyers aren’t good with technology and don’t do Zoom or virtual consultations.
If your chest hurts, you should see a good cardiologist. Likewise, you need a top criminal defense attorney in Rochester if you’re charged with a crime.
The late Grant Cooper represented RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan in the late 1960s. Cooper was an experienced trial and celebrity lawyer but not a dedicated criminal lawyer. Before Sirhan, Cooper’s most famous case was probably Shirley Temple’s divorce from B-movie actor John Agar. Most likely, due to his lack of dedication, he missed some inconsistencies in the state’s evidence. If he’d been more aggressive, Sirhan might not still be in prison today.
We saved what may be the most essential quality for last. Law school professors effectively teach students how to think like lawyers. But only the school of hard knocks teaches them how to act like lawyers.
Experience is a great teacher. Experienced lawyers know what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. Proven methods get proven results.
Years of practice experience is essential but also deceptive. Many criminal defense lawyers practice for years and have almost no trial experience. These lawyers often aren’t willing to go the distance. Prosecutors know which lawyers hide in “plea closets.” Prosecutors rarely make favorable plea bargain offers to plea closet criminal defense lawyers.
On the other hand, if prosecutors know a lawyer is ready, willing, and able to test the state’s case at trial, they’re much more willing to talk business.
Contact a Top Criminal Defense Lawyer in Rochester
A top criminal defense attorney makes a big difference in a court case. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with a top criminal defense lawyer in Rochester. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.
State-level law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities in New York typically focus on DUI, drug possession, and other minor fish crimes. Federal law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities usually focus on fraud, drug trafficking, and other significant fish offenses. Frequently, the big fish net catches little fish as well. Under federal conspiracy law, if one member of an organization commits a felony, all members can be charged with a felony.
The focus and laws aren’t the only difference between state and federal courts. Since the voters elect state judges for short terms, these individuals are often accommodating to lawyers. The president appoints federal judges to lifetime terms. Lawyers get no slack in these courtrooms. So, a federal criminal defense lawyer near you must be familiar with all procedural rules, including the unwritten ones. Then, and only then, can an attorney put a defensive plan into action.
Individual Rights During Investigations
Before the 1960s, the Fourth Amendment was a summary of lofty ideals. Today, it looms large in federal criminal investigations. The Supreme Court embraced the exclusionary rule in the 1960s. This rule excludes illegally obtained evidence at trials.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. By definition, searches and seizures are reasonable if officers have a valid warrant or a court-sanctioned exception applies, such as:
- Consent: An owner or apparent owner may voluntarily consent to property searches, like a roommate who isn’t on the lease. Usually, judges allow some law enforcement bullying. But this bullying eventually crosses the line, and the consent becomes involuntary.
- Plain View: This exception often applies if officers stumble upon contraband while looking for something else. For example, a search warrant might authorize officers to search the garage for drugs. If they see illegal weapons in plain view, in transit, or in the garage, they don’t need a warrant to seize them.
- Stop and Frisk: This controversial tactic sometimes applies at airports. If TSA or other federal agents see suspicious people in parking lots, they can stop them and pat them down for weapons if that suspicion is based on some evidence of criminal activity.
Judges must approve affidavits that show probable cause before they issue warrants. However, this standard is low. In 2015, an Iowa federal judge ruled that officers had probable cause to stop a motorist for speeding one mph over the speed limit.
Finding the Right Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
At the minimum, attorneys cannot take federal criminal defense cases unless licensed in federal court. Furthermore, a criminal defense lawyer near you should be experienced in federal court and dedicated to such matters.
The New York State Bar licenses attorneys. To practice law in federal court, attorneys must meet additional requirements.
Teenagers might have driver’s licenses, but they aren’t experienced drivers. Likewise, a license to practice law in federal court doesn’t make someone an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer near you. As mentioned, federal court procedure is complex. Attorneys must know what they’re doing.
That’s where dedication comes in. Many attorneys handle a few federal criminal cases on the side, primarily for friends and family. Dedicated attorneys are thoroughly familiar with all the rules. Furthermore, dedicated attorneys have staying power. They don’t look for a quick and easy way out.
Individual Rights During Case Resolution
The Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Depending on your perspective, this provision might or might not ban capital punishment. The Eighth Amendment affects how a federal criminal defense lawyer near you resolves cases.
Plea bargains resolve 98 percent of federal criminal cases. Under the Eighth Amendment, the punishment must fit the crime. Judges won’t approve plea bargain arrangements that “make an example” out of the defendant or are otherwise unduly harsh. So, during plea negotiations, the Eighth Amendment is the ace in the hole.
Compared to state court, federal court is like a grown-up court. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Rochester. Convenient payment plans are available.
The direct and indirect effects of a first-time DWI could devastate your family. A DUI conviction usually triples auto insurance rates, burdening stressed households more. Furthermore, a DUI conviction makes it harder to earn money. Employers often avoid people with DUI convictions like the plague. To reduce or avoid these consequences, a first-time DWI defense attorney aggressively attacks the state’s evidence, especially chemical test evidence.
The DWI conviction rate is much lower if the state cannot use Breathalyzer or other chemical test results. Once prosecutors lose their edge and don’t feel as good about their chances at trial, they usually agree to favorable plea deals. This deal could include a plea to reckless driving or another non-DWI offense.
The aggressive attack strategy begins before the defendant blows into a Breathalyzer and even before the police officer asks the dreaded “Sir/Ma’am, have you been drinking?” question.
Generally, the reasonable suspicion rule applies to law enforcement stops. Reasonable suspicion is an evidence-based hunch of criminal activity. That criminal activity could be unrelated to DWI, like speeding or making an illegal turn.
Officers have broad legal powers at this stage, but this power is not unlimited. Furtive movements are a good example. If drivers act nervous when they see squad cars in their rearview mirrors, this behavior is suspicious. However, courts have consistently held that this behavior doesn’t satisfy the reasonable suspicion requirement.
The preliminary DWI investigation usually comes next. However, before officers pop the question, they need more evidence of alcohol impairment, such as:
- Slurred speech,
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Slow reflexes,
- Unsteady balance, and
- The odor of alcohol.
Sometimes, officers rush through the investigation to reach the next stage. That’s especially true if the officer was on DWI patrol or another special duty.
Over 80 percent of DWI defendants provide a breath or blood sample. So, in most cases, attacking the evidence means attacking chemical test results.
The Breathalyzer is an updated and miniaturized Drunk-o-Meter, a contraption that scientists invented in the 1920s. Because it’s based on such old technology, Breathalyzers have some major technical issues, such as:
- Calibration: Advanced devices require considerable maintenance. For example, temperature changes affect Breathalyzer results. Outside temperatures sometimes change quickly in upstate New York. If the Breathalyzer wasn’t correctly calibrated, the results could be inaccurate.
- Mouth Alcohol: Alcohol upsets stomachs. When people burp or vomit, alcohol particles in the stomach flood the mouth. So, the subject’s breath alcohol level is higher than the subject’s blood alcohol level, which is the legal standard in New York.
- Unabsorbed Alcohol: Similarly, alcohol parks in the stomach and moves through the liver before it enters the bloodstream. Because of this delay, if the subject had anything to drink in the last hour or so, that alcohol hadn’t entered the blood.
A first-time DWI defense attorney often partners with a degreed chemist or professional to drive these points home with jurors.
Blood tests are much more accurate than breath tests. However, the samples often have chain of custody issues. At the minimum, the samples go from the subject to a police lab to an evidence room to a courtroom. That’s a lot of moving parts.
If the defendant refuses to provide a chemical sample, prosecutors must rely on circumstantial evidence, such as physical symptoms.
These symptoms are usually sufficient to prove probable cause, which is the amount of proof needed to support an arrest. But these symptoms don’t prove intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt. Usually, they only prove consumption. An odor of alcohol doesn’t even prove consumption. Usually, it just proves the defendant was near someone drinking.
Contact a Top DWI Attorney in Rochester
First-time criminal offenders have essential rights. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Rochester. Convenient payment plans are available.