How an Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney Creates a Win

How an Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney Creates a Win

Dr. Samuel Mudd might be the most infamous aider and abettor in American history.[1] When Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth staggered into Mudd’s office with a broken leg, Dr. Mudd set the bone, didn’t ask questions, and was swept up in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. He tried to set the record straight for the rest of his life. But to this day, his name is still dragged through the mud.

Many criminal accomplices are like Dr. Mudd. They don’t know all the plan’s nefarious details, usually because they don’t want to know. But under New York law, if they commit an overt act in furtherance of the criminal enterprise, they could face aiding and abetting charges. That overt act could be legal, such as giving medical treatment to a desperate man or putting gas in a getaway car.

Today, the collateral effects of a criminal conviction include much more than a damaged reputation. People with felony convictions on their records usually have problems finding good jobs and lovely places to live. They also forfeit many civil rights, and when other people commit crimes nearby, people with criminal records instantly become the prime suspects. A Rochester criminal defense lawyer, who could be counted on as a professional aiding and abetting defense attorney, often uses one of the defenses listed below to reduce or eliminate these consequences.

Lack of Evidence

Accomplices aren’t just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As mentioned above, they must intentionally commit an overt act that aids the criminal cause. Let’s focus on the requirements of mens rea (criminal state of mind).

Usually, prosecutors use conduct to prove mental state, like intent. So, if the defendant committed a legal act, proving unlawful intent is harder. However, the aforementioned willful blindness factor comes into play as well.

As a side note, “intentionally” is a nebulous state of mind below maliciously. Mudd was a Southern sympathizer, but he didn’t hate Lincoln. Therefore, he didn’t maliciously help Booth, but rather, he intentionally helped him.

The usual or unusual nature of the act often determines intent. Doctors often set broken legs but rarely set them in the middle of the night for a person who “fell in the bathtub” or whatever story Booth told Mudd. Actually, according to some, Booth threatened Mudd. If he did so, Mudd may have had an additional defense. More on that below.


This affirmative defense is closely related to a lack of intent. If the co-conspirator actively and vocally withdraws, s/he didn’t have the requisite intent, especially if s/he withdrew at a critical point.

Assume Sam asks Sally to watch a street corner later that morning while he “goes to the bank.” Sally initially agrees but gets cold feet and doesn’t show up. She withdrew, but her action might not meet the vocal withdrawal requirement. Then again, actions speak louder than words, so it’s complicated.

Usually, the state has the burden of proof in criminal cases. But the defendant has the burden of proof if s/he raises an argument like withdrawal, self-defense, or another affirmative defense. Therefore, most Rochester criminal defense lawyers use affirmative defenses as fallbacks rather than primary defenses.

Accessory After the Fact

For many decades, Dr. Mudd conceded that he intentionally helped Booth. But he argued that what was done was done. His medical help didn’t assist the prior assassination. Indeed, if the defendant was an accessory after the fact, the defendant usually isn’t guilty of aiding and abetting.

The issue is where “the fact” ends. Is Sam’s bank robbery complete when Sam grabs the money or when Sam leaves the bank? Naturally, prosecutors use the broad version; in most cases, judges back them up.


Coercion is a defense to almost all crimes, including accomplice liability. This affirmative defense could be direct or indirect.

If Mudd initially refused to assist Booth, Booth told Mudd, “Help me or else,” and Mudd reasonably believed Booth could make good on his threat, Booth coerced Mudd. All three elements of duress were present.

Frequently, a Rochester criminal defense attorney can only prove Part III. If Sally reasonably believed Sam could somehow hurt her, she might immediately agree to assist Sam, obviating his need to make a “help me or else” threat. A one-part duress defense could hold up in court, but an aiding and abetting defense attorney must convince jurors that Parts I and II were implied.

Count on an Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney from Monroe County

Accomplices aren’t always liable in criminal court. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rochester, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters throughout Upstate New York.




Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Conduct Investigations?

Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Conduct Investigations?

Unless they must accept the state’s first plea bargain offer, which is usually the case if the defendant is in jail, attorneys always conduct investigations. Defense lawyers don’t have to “prove” the defendant was “innocent” or “clear his name.” Instead, they must only create a reasonable doubt.[1] So, what goes behind a criminal defense attorney investigation is outlined below.

The official definition of reasonable doubt isn’t very useful here. The term “sink and ink” is more descriptive. When an octopus is under pressure, it plunges into deep, dark water and muddies it to confuse whatever is threatening it. Likewise, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer sinks and inks when a defendant is distressed. Attorneys confuse jurors and create questions in their minds. This uncertainty is usually a reasonable doubt.

Witness Interviews

Testimonial evidence is usually the foundation of the state’s case. A Rochester criminal defense lawyer could investigate witness testimony formally or informally.

Formal Investigation

Many criminal cases, mostly possession matters and DUIs, are single-witness cases. The arresting officer saw the whole thing from start to finish. Police officers rarely informally discuss their testimony with Rochester criminal defense lawyers. Therefore, to obtain insight in this area, a lawyer must schedule a suppression hearing or, in a DUI, an administrative license revocation hearing.

Suppression hearings are very common in possession cases. Seized weapons, drugs, and other contraband are inadmissible in court unless officers have a valid search warrant or a narrow search warrant exception applied.

A probable cause affidavit must support a search warrant application. Common search warrant exceptions include an item in plain view and the owner’s voluntary consent.

In the witness interview context, the goal of a suppression hearing is not so much the suppression of evidence. Instead, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer requests this hearing so the arresting officer must testify on the record. Subsequent inconsistent statements significantly erode the officer’s credibility, even on relatively minor matters.

A DUI ALR hearing is a lot like a suppression hearing. An Administrative Law Judge decides if officers had probable cause to request a chemical sample. Even if the ALJ rules against the defendant, the officer testified on the record, so the hearing was a partial win.

Informal Investigation

A non-police officer testimony is required in property crime, assault, and fraud cases. Usually, the state cannot stop a Rochester criminal law attorney from speaking with these witnesses.

Informal witness investigations have two primary goals. First, an attorney must assess the witness’ testimony and determine its damage. Second, an attorney must look for ways to discredit the witness. Discrediting a witness in court is a delicate matter. If an attorney is too aggressive, jurors get angry.

Potential Witnesses

Usually, the names of arresting officers and complaining witnesses are public information. These people are easy to find. Additional witnesses investigators overlooked might be harder to find.

Friendly Witnesses

These witnesses present a different version of events than complaining witnesses and police officers. A different version of events doesn’t mean the other witnesses are lying. Our brains aren’t video cameras. We remember events selectively.

Assume Sarah says Peter sexually assaulted her at a party. Paul testifies that Peter and Sarah were at the party but never alone together. Paul’s testimony doesn’t “prove” Peter was not guilty. But it does undermine Sarah’s accusations.

Unfriendly Witnesses

Attorneys must also look into the testimony of an unfriendly witness, perhaps an “eyewitness” to a murder. If the eyewitness might have been biased or incorrect, that fact could prevent the state from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Once again, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer need not “prove” the witness was “lying.” A defense lawyer must only create a reasonable doubt.

Circumstances of the Case

Now, a few final words about the circumstances of the case, such as scientific evidence and extenuating circumstances.

Fingerprint and DNA evidence is scientifically reliable. Most other “scientific” evidence, such as clothing fibers and blood stains, isn’t scientifically reliable. Additionally, a credible expert must usually authenticate this evidence in court.

Extenuating circumstances aren’t legal defenses. But they affect the way jurors view a defendant. Semi-coercion is a good example. Assume Frank knows a dark secret about Nancy, and Nancy knows he knows. If Frank convinced Nancy to transport drugs, there’s an implied “or else,” which could be an extenuating circumstance in Nancy’s favor.

Rely on a Dedicated Monroe County Attorney

A criminal defense attorney investigation often allows lawyers to create reasonable doubt. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rochester, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.





When Should I Use a Court-Appointed Criminal Defense Lawyer?

When Should I Use a Court-Appointed Criminal Defense Lawyer?

All defendants need lawyers, appointed or otherwise, even though most criminal cases settle out of court. Many defendants reason that because they negotiated an auto purchase on their own, they can also negotiate a plea bargain on their own. However, there’s a big difference between your money and your liberty. Therefore, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in criminal cases.[1]

When the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer, they usually do good jobs, especially if the offense was a “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” infraction. These defendants can generally comply with probation conditions, including staying out of trouble for extended periods. However, as a rule of thumb, defendants shouldn’t say yes immediately when the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer. If they do, they meet their lawyers for the first time after the judge has signed the paperwork. So, they don’t know if the lawyer has the qualities necessary to be an excellent criminal defense lawyer.

For this reason alone, a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer is a much better option. Furthermore, the picture of the overworked court-appointed criminal defense lawyer is partially accurate. Court reimbursement fees might be as little as $100 for a misdemeanor plea. At that rate, when the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer to a case, the lawyer has no incentive to investigate it or even negotiate with the prosecutor. Instead, the lawyer takes the first offer. That’s probably just as well, as many new public defenders don’t know how to defend cases properly. Unless your case checks all the boxes in this post, use some extra time and money and hire a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer.

Early Jail Release

As a lawyer, if the defendant is out of jail, time is on your side. In bond cases, the trial date is usually at least a year after the arrest date. The evidence has degraded by then, and better plea bargain offers are available. Even an inexperienced lawyer can catch a fish if it jumps into the net.

Jail cases require additional work. Attorneys must quickly and thoroughly prepare cases to get the best plea bargain offers. Court-appointed lawyers often lack these skills.

Furthermore, jail cases often require more court appearances, such as a bond reduction hearing. Court-appointed lawyers get paid flat fees. The more time they invest, the less money they make.

Nonviolent Misdemeanor

Court-appointed lawyers can handle these cases because possible punishments are light for the most part. Drug possession is a good example. Today, many lawmakers view drug possession as a health and safety matter, not a criminal law matter. Therefore, many cases that were felonies are now misdemeanors. Many former misdemeanors are now basically traffic tickets, if that.

Violent misdemeanors include assault, DUI, stalking, and everything else, except property crimes and the aforementioned drug possession crimes. These offenses have high penalties, including high fines and long jail sentences. Defendants should choose their own Rochester criminal defense lawyers in these cases. They shouldn’t use a lawyer whose name a judge drew from a hat.

Furthermore, the collateral consequences of violent crimes are significant. Most violent misdemeanors are CIMTs (crimes involving moral turpitude). CIMTs have long-lasting and usually permanent consequences in the legal system and everyday life. There’s no guarantee a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer can reduce or eliminate these consequences. But a personal lawyer has a much better chance than a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer.

Comfortable with Long Term, Strict Probation

Most states have hard probation caps. Usually, the probation cannot exceed two times the offered jail sentence (e.g., 90 days in jail or 180 days on probation). New York doesn’t have a hard cap. Therefore, probation sentences are much longer in the Empire State than in most neighboring states.

Long periods of probation make it challenging to adhere to all court-ordered conditions of probation. These conditions include:

  • Remaining in the county at all times
  • Staying current on child support and alimony payments
  • Working and/or attending school full-time
  • Avoiding disreputable people and places, like people with criminal records and bars
  • Performing community service
  • Drug treatment, anger management, or other professional counseling
  • Avoiding all trouble with the law

As mentioned, court-appointed lawyers typically take the first offer. Private Rochester criminal defense lawyers negotiate with prosecutors to ease the length and/or conditions of probation. Furthermore, attorneys can file subsequent motions to modify or discharge probation.

No Criminal Record

We mentioned “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” offenses above. These individuals usually want to avoid further trouble and, if possible, clear their permanent records. So, they have a powerful incentive to toe the line. If a court-appointed lawyer doesn’t negotiate a favorable deal, these defendants nevertheless abide by its terms.

People with criminal records, even an old conviction or a conviction from another state, don’t see things the same way. Their permanent record is already tarnished, so they have little incentive to comply with probation terms. In these cases, since the defendant has a criminal record when the hammer falls, it falls much harder.

So, if you have a criminal record, you need the shortest and most lenient probation possible. That’s a tall order. Many prosecutors double or triple the offered sentence if the defendant has been in trouble before. It would be best if you had a good negotiator as well. Many prosecutors are convinced these people are “bad eggs” who don’t deserve second chances.

Connect With a Thorough Attorney

Typically, your liberty is too valuable to place in the hands of a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Rochester, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.




Finding the Best: Top Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me for Legal Defense

Finding the Best: Top Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me for Legal Defense

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. [1] 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.[2] 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.





Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me: Protecting Your Rights in Federal Cases

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me: Protecting Your Rights in Federal Cases

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.






Defending Your Rights: How A First-Time DWI Defense Attorney Can Help You

Defending Your Rights: How A First-Time DWI Defense Attorney Can Help You

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.[1] 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.

Procedural Defenses

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.

Intoxication Defenses

Over 80 percent of DWI defendants provide a breath or blood sample.[2] 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.