What to Do When Facing Your First Felony or Criminal Charge?
Being arrested or charged with a crime is a jarring, often terrifying experience. Suspects are right to be concerned about the potential consequences to their livelihood, their reputation, their employment, their housing, and even their freedom. Whether you were charged with or arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor, it is important to know your rights and to take the right steps toward protecting yourself. Read on for tips about what to do when you are facing your first criminal charges, and if you have been arrested for a crime in the Hudson Valley, call a seasoned and trial-ready New York criminal defense lawyer for advice and representation.
Although everyone has heard that they have “the right to remain silent,” in the stress and anxiety surrounding an arrest, it is easy to forget. If you are arrested, you can and should remain silent. You have the constitutional right to do so. Trying to apologize or explain to the police or other parties involved, or even worse, trying to argue, will almost always do more harm than good. Comply with reasonable police requests, such as identifying yourself upon arrest, but do not volunteer information or try to win your case on the street. Talk to your lawyer, and let your lawyer talk to the authorities for you.
Get a Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer
As soon as you get the chance, call a lawyer. Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner can be the difference between felony and misdemeanor charges, prison time and probation, or even whether you wind up with a conviction at all. It is vital to have someone on your side whom you can trust, who understands the law, and who will get you the best result possible. People who try to represent themselves inevitably end up facing harsher charges and more severe sentences.
Don’t Talk About Your Case
It can be tempting to talk to your friends or family about your arrest and your case. Unfortunately, statements you make to other people can also be used to hurt your defense. If you are sitting in jail, you should assume that everything you say other than to your lawyer is being overheard by the authorities. Your phone calls, too, may be monitored. You can discuss your case freely with your attorney, and otherwise when your lawyer tells you it is safe to do so, but outside of those times, avoid talking about it as best you can.
Understand Your Charges
You have the constitutional right to know the criminal charges you are facing. It is important for you to know exactly what those charges are as well as the potential punishments you may face. Misdemeanors can land you in jail for up to a year, although many carry shorter sentences. Felony convictions can lead to prison time well over a year. Convictions can also carry other consequences, such as limiting your eligibility to attain or keep a professional license, affecting your immigration status, limiting your options for education, and preventing you from living at certain locations. Make sure the police tell you what crimes you are being arrested for, and discuss your charges with your attorney as soon as you can.
Defense First, Bail Second
If you have been arrested for a felony, your first instinct may be to post bail as soon as possible. It is important to get a lawyer on your side before you even try to post bail. Your criminal defense lawyer can review your charges and potentially get you out on your own recognizance (no bail requirement), or significantly reduce the bail amount. Your attorney might advise you that your charges are likely to be dropped at your arraignment, or that higher bail is likely to be set at your arraignment, meaning you may have to pay the bail bondsman fee twice. Talk to a lawyer first to discuss your best options, then decide about bail.
Get Effective Advice and Representation After a Hudson Valley Arrest
If you have been arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony in New York, call Dupée & Monroe, P.C., to get help from a passionate criminal defense lawyer. From our offices in Goshen, we represent clients charged with all manner of criminal offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.