Typically, an assault or other violent crime is a crime of passion.[1] A heated verbal argument between spouses, friends, acquaintances, or strangers gets out of control. Alcohol is often a factor in these sudden escalations. After an alleged victim gets hurt, someone, usually a witness, calls the police. So, the police officers who file charges don’t see the event. They only see the aftermath. They must piece together the events using various investigative tactics. As outlined below, all these features of a violent crime in NY are potential defenses in court.

The stakes are very high in these cases. Violent crimes are normally felonies. Moreover, these matters usually go to a general jurisdiction criminal court instead of a drug court or other specialty forum. Therefore, judges are more anxious to mete out punishment as opposed to treatment or other corrective action.

In this environment, you need a strong advocate, like a Rochester criminal defense lawyer. An attorney quickly evaluates your case in light of the aforementioned complexities which these cases involve. Most violent crime in NY prosecutions have at least one weakness somewhere. An attorney can use that defense to resolve the charge successfully. This resolution often means a plea to a lesser-included offense.

Jail Release Issues

First things first. Prompt jail release is very important in a criminal case, and not just for the obvious personal issues.

If defendants are behind bars before trial, they often accept unfavorable plea agreements to “get it over with.” That’s especially true since many of these defendants do not want to wait until their trial dates roll around. Their understandable anxiousness to get out of jail deprives a Rochester criminal defense lawyer of perhaps the most potent negotiating tool, which is the possibility of a successful result at trial.

Usually, bail is initially unavailable in violent crime cases, or the cash bail amount is too high to pay. So, attorneys must request bail reduction hearings to secure pretrial release. Some of the factors judges consider at these hearings include the defendant’s:

  • Criminal history,
  • Threat to the community at large,
  • Ability to make bail,
  • Ties to the community,
  • Threat to victims or witnesses, and
  • Ability to flee the jurisdiction.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail in criminal cases. Therefore, reasonable bail is usually available, except in some murders and other extreme cases.

Challenging the Evidence for Violent Crime in NY Matter

The bail fight is only the undercard bout. The main event is yet to come. Jail release makes it easier to win this fight, but the result is by no means guaranteed. Fortunately, violent crimes usually involve some procedural and substantive defenses.

Procedural Defenses

Since officers initially might not know who the defendant is, many of these investigations involve lineups. This technique isn’t quite as common as movies and TV shows imply that it is, but police officers still use this tool liberally.

Some lineups are inherently suspect, mostly because they are not double-blind. Usually, lineup results are only reliable if neither the witness nor the administering officer knew the suspect’s identity. If that’s not the case, the administering officer typically gives the witness subtle hints, or even not-so-subtle hints, about which person or picture to select.

Lineups also involve Fifth Amendment issues. This provision gives defendants the right to remain silent. That right includes the right to refuse to pose for a picture or appear in a lineup.

Substantive Defenses

Alcohol-involved violent crimes are tough to prove in New York from both a factual and legal standpoint.

Alcohol impairs memory and perception. When witnesses testify about what they saw or alleged victims testify about what happened, their recollections are inherently suspect. If the trial occurs many months after the incident, which is usually the case, these individuals’ limited memories are even weaker.

Furthermore, if the defendant had been drinking, alcohol could be a legal defense. Many violent crimes, such as murder and aggravated assault, are specific intent crimes. Legally, intoxicated individuals cannot form the requisite mental state to commit these crimes.

Count on an Experienced Attorney

Violent criminal charges do not always hold up in court. 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.


[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/crime_of_passion

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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