Best NYC Criminal Lawyers

Why You Need a Lawyer When Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

Finding yourself in legal trouble in New York City can be an overwhelming and scary experience. Even if you believe you are innocent, the complexities of the law and aggressive prosecution tactics mean it’s essential to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side.

The Benefits of Having a Lawyer

Facing criminal prosecution in New York City without a lawyer is extremely unwise. Here are some of the key benefits a knowledgeable NYC criminal defense attorney can provide:

  • Expertise navigating complex laws – New York’s penal codes contain thousands of statutes and regulations. An attorney understands these intricacies in a way you likely never could on your own. They know how to interpret the law in your favor.
  • Strategy building – An effective lawyer will carefully examine the details of your case and build a defense strategy aimed at achieving the best possible outcome. This requires experience assessing risks and knowing which arguments and evidence will resonate best with prosecutors and judges.
  • Negotiating plea deals – Many NYC criminal cases get resolved through plea bargaining. An attorney knows how this process works and can negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf to minimize charges and potential penalties.
  • Trial experience – If your case does go to trial, you want a lawyer who knows how to argue before judges and juries. Most defendants represent themselves in criminal trials and lose. An experienced trial lawyer can powerfully present your defense and punch holes in the prosecution’s case.
  • Sentencing advocacy – If you are convicted, skilled attorneys understand how to advocate for the lightest possible sentence under the law. Their persuasive abilities and knowledge of mitigating factors can make a huge difference in the punishment imposed.
  • Avoiding mistakes – Handling complex legal matters without guidance can lead to serious missteps. Lawyers help prevent you from making mistakes that harm your case.

As you can see, having an expert NYC criminal lawyer on your side provides major advantages at every phase of the process. Now let’s look at potential defenses.

Possible Defenses in New York Criminal Cases

When facing criminal prosecution in New York, there are various legal defenses your attorney may use to fight the charges. Some top defenses include:

Insufficient Evidence

One of the most common defenses in criminal cases is arguing the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Skilled NYC defense lawyers know how to scrutinize the details of the prosecution’s case to identify holes and weaknesses.For example, if a witness makes inconsistent statements or crime scene evidence is mishandled, this creates opportunities to challenge the quality of the state’s evidence.

Unlawful Police Conduct

Allegations that police acted improperly when arresting you or gathering evidence can also derail a criminal case. Examples include making a false arrest, conducting an illegal search, coercing a confession, mishandling evidence, and failing to read you your Miranda rights.If a judge agrees police crossed legal boundaries, vital evidence against you may be suppressed or the case dismissed.


If you’re charged with a violent crime like assault or homicide, arguing you acted in self-defense is one of the most powerful defenses.Under New York Penal Law §35.15, the use of force against another is justifiable if you reasonably believed it was necessary to defend yourself or someone else.Your lawyer will work to show you faced imminent harm and used an appropriate level of responsive force.

Mental Defect or Disease

In some cases, lawyers can argue their client lacked criminal responsibility because of a mental defect or disease.To pursue this defense under NY Penal Law §40.15, your attorney will work with psychiatrists to assess your mental state.If experts determine you were unable to understand your conduct’s consequences at the time of the crime, this may support a not guilty verdict on insanity grounds.


When identity is a key issue in a criminal case, defense lawyers may claim the prosecution has charged the wrong person. This “mistaken identity” defense involves discrediting eyewitnesses and showing flaws in photo or lineup identifications.Undermining the credibility of witnesses who identify you as the perpetrator can create the reasonable doubt needed for an acquittal.


Another potential defense is arguing you only broke the law because of threats or coercion.Under NY Penal Law §40.00, criminal conduct may be excused if you were compelled by the threat of imminent death or serious injury with no reasonable chance of escape.Your attorney will try to prove you broke the law under duress.


If police used overly coercive tactics to induce you into criminal acts you were not already predisposed to commit, an entrapment defense may succeed.Your lawyer could argue it was the police who created the crime, rather than you acting with criminal intent, making prosecution unjust.


  • Penal Law 120.10 – First Degree Assault – When a person intends to disfigure or seriously injure another person and causes such injury with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. This is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
  • Penal Law 120.11 – Aggravated Assault Upon a Person Less Than Eleven Years Old – When an adult intentionally causes serious physical injury to a child under 11. This is a Class B felony with a maximum 25 year prison sentence.
  • Penal Law 120.12 – Aggravated Assault Upon a Person Sixty-Five Years of Age or Older – When someone intentionally causes serious injury to a person 65 or older. Also a Class B felony with up to 25 years imprisonment.


  • Penal Law 160.05 – Robbery in the Third Degree – Forcibly stealing property. This is a Class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
  • Penal Law 160.10 – Robbery in the Second Degree – Involves physical injury or the threat of injury during a robbery. A Class C felony with up to 15 years imprisonment.
  • Penal Law 160.15 – Robbery in the First Degree – Robbery involving serious physical injury, a deadly weapon, or the aid of an accomplice. A Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.


  • Penal Law 140.20 – Burglary in the Third Degree – Unlawfully entering a building with intent to commit a crime inside. A Class D felony with up to 7 years behind bars.
  • Penal Law 140.25 – Burglary in the Second Degree – Burglary of a dwelling. A Class C felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.
  • Penal Law 140.30 – Burglary in the First Degree – Armed burglary of a dwelling. A Class B violent felony with up to 25 years imprisonment.

Sex Crimes

  • Penal Law 130.25/.30/.35 – Rape in the First/Second/Third Degree – Forced or coerced sexual intercourse. Felonies ranging from Class B to D with maximum sentences of 2 to 25 years.
  • Penal Law 130.52/.55/.60 – Criminal Sexual Act in the First/Second/Third Degree – Oral or anal sexual conduct by force or coercion. Class B to D felonies with up to 25 years imprisonment.
  • Penal Law 130.65/.66/.67/.70 – Sexual Abuse in the First/Second/Third/Fourth Degree – Sexual contact by force or without consent. Class D to B felonies with up to 7 years imprisonment.

White Collar/Financial Crimes

  • Penal Law 155.40/.42 – Grand Larceny in the First/Second Degree – Theft of over $1 million or more than $50,000 by fraudulent means. Class B and C felonies with up to 25 years in prison.
  • Penal Law 176.20/.25 – Insurance Fraud in the First/Second Degree – Fraudulently collecting over $1 million or $50,000 from insurers. Class B and C felonies punishable by up to 15-25 years.
  • Penal Law 180.03/.08/.15 – Forgery in the Second/Third/Fourth Degree – Falsifying documents or signatures for fraudulent purposes. Class D to A misdemeanors with up to 4 years jail time.
  • Penal Law 190.65/.70/.75 – Scheme to Defraud in the First/Second/Third Degree – Complex fraud schemes causing losses over $1 million, $100,000, or $3,000. Class E to B felonies with maximum 25 year sentences.

Clearly, the range of potential criminal penalties in New York is extensive. Skilled NYC defense lawyers use their expertise to build strategies aimed at avoiding the most severe sentences. With an adept attorney on your side, you have the best chance of a favorable outcome.