There is an old lawyer joke which says, “An attorney is someone who helps you get what’s coming to you.” In other words, a Rochester, NY criminal lawyer cannot alter the outcome of a criminal case.
Alas, many times that is true. For various reasons, many attorneys take the prosecutor’s first offer, no matter how good or bad it is.
Many people have heard of, or maybe even remember, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. After he won the 1968 California primary, President John F. Kennedy’s brother was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Police quickly arrested 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan and charged him with the crime.
Noted attorney Grant Cooper defended Sirhan. For some reason, Cooper, who died in the 1990s, did not aggressively attack the state’s evidence against Sirhan, even though there were some holes in the case. If he had been more assertive, Sirhan may not be sitting in a California prison today serving a life sentence.
So, a diligent Rochester, NY criminal lawyer can make a significant difference, in at least three areas of your criminal case.
This first phase of a criminal case is also one of the most important ones. Unless an attorney secures pretrial release, the presumption of innocence essentially becomes a presumption of guilt. It’s extremely hard to defend cases under these conditions. Additionally, if they find out the defendant is in jail, many Monroe County jurors assume the defendant did something wrong. Finally, many incarcerated defendants agree to unfavorable plea bargains just to “get it over with.”
In serious criminal cases, such as extremely violent crimes or high-dollar fraud cases, bail is so high that the defendant cannot possibly afford it. Furthermore, to most Rochester families, two or three thousand dollars might as well be two or three million. They simply do not have that kind of cash.
In these cases, a Rochester, NY criminal lawyer usually demands a bail reduction hearing. At this hearing, the judge often reduces bail based upon factors like:
- Amount the defendant can pay,
- Severity of the offense,
- Defendant’s ability to travel, or more commonly, the defendant’s inability to travel,
- Lack of threats to witnesses or alleged victims, and
- Defendant’s contact with the community.
Often, the defense and prosecutor come to an agreement that involves some give-and-take. For example, the prosecutor might agree to OR (Own Recognizance) release if the defendant submits to electronic monitoring.
Constructing a Defense
Just like no one goes to war with an unloaded gun, no attorney defends a client without a clear vision of a defensive strategy.
Many times, a procedural defense is available. Drug cases are a good illustration. Most of these cases involve either search warrants or exceptions to the search warrant requirement. If the warrant is defective in any way, or the claimed exception does not apply, most Monroe County judges will throw the case out of court.
Substantive defenses may be available as well, and once again, drug cases are excellent examples. Officers always testify that a substance “field tested” positive for an illegal drug. But these tests don’t always hold up in court. In December 2018, Florida police charged a man with heroin possession. The heroin turned out to be Tide laundry detergent. Cases like this one are extreme, but they happen more often than people think.
Resolving the Case
It all comes down to this. About 97 percent of the time, a negotiated plea bargain resolves a criminal case. This pretrial settlement usually involves one or both of the following:
- Lesser sentence and/or
- Reduced charges.
For example, some Monroe County prosecutors reduce DUI charges to reckless driving. This offense is a serious misdemeanor, but it does not have the same collateral consequences as DUI. If your Rochester, NY criminal lawyer secured the prompt pretrial release and diligently prepared a defense, there’s a very good chance that the case could end with a favorable resolution.
Count on an Experienced Rochester NY Criminal Attorney
The right legal defense makes a big difference for you and your family. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester, NY criminal lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Home and jail visits are available.