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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:58 pm
What to Do if You Are Charged with a Violent Crime in Long Island
Getting arrested and charged with a violent crime like assault, robbery, or worse can be an incredibly scary and overwhelming experience. Even if you feel the charges against you are unfair or untrue, the legal system can feel cold and unforgiving. It’s important to remember that you have rights and options. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can build the strongest possible defense for your case. This article provides an overview of steps to take if you find yourself facing violent crime charges in Long Island.
Get Legal Representation Immediately
The first thing you should do after being arrested is invoke your right to remain silent until you have a lawyer present. Anything you say to the police can be used against you, so it’s best not to provide any statements before consulting with an attorney. Be aware that even casual remarks can come back to haunt you later.
After you’ve been booked and processed, your next call should be to a criminal defense lawyer. Look for an attorney with extensive experience specifically handling violent crime cases in Long Island courts. A knowledgeable local lawyer will understand the judges, prosecutors and processes that will impact your case. They can advise you on the relevant laws and start forming a strategic defense rooted in their expertise.
If you can’t afford a private attorney, don’t panic. You can request a public defender appointed by the state free of charge. Just be aware that public defenders typically have high caseloads, so a private lawyer may be better equipped to devote more time and attention to developing your defense. Either way, legal representation is essential from the very start to protect your rights.
Understand the Charges Against You
The charges filed against you by the district attorney will determine the felony class of your alleged crime under New York state law. Your defense attorney will explain the specifics of the charges and associated sentencing guidelines if convicted. This gives you an idea of how high the stakes are and what arguments the prosecution will try to make.
For example, a second degree assault charge under NY Penal Law 120.05 requires the DA to prove you intended to cause serious physical injury with a weapon. The same act charged as first degree assault under 120.10 requires proving intent to cause serious injury plus additional aggravating factors. The classifications make a major difference in minimum and maximum sentences if found guilty. So be sure you’re very clear on what exactly you’re charged with.
Explore Your Legal Defenses
After reviewing the accusations against you and evidence collected, your lawyer will discuss potential defenses to fight the charges. Common options to explore include:
- Self Defense – Using appropriate force to defend yourself or others against an attacker’s threat can provide strong justification. The key is proving you faced imminent bodily harm and your actions constituted a reasonable response.
- False Accusations – If a supposed victim or witnesses are provably lying about what occurred, those credibility attacks could defeat the charges. Your lawyer may hire private investigators to dig deeper.
- Mistaken Identity – Eyewitness misidentification is a leading cause of wrongful convictions. So mistaken ID from victims or witnesses provides grounds for reasonable doubt of your guilt.
- Alibi – Demonstrating you were demonstrably elsewhere at the time of the alleged crime is a classic defense strategy. Hope you have an ironclad alibi!
- Intoxication – Evidence you were exceedingly drunk or impaired during the incident could potentially support a intoxication defense. The impact on your mental state and intent comes into play.
Your attorney will assess any possible defenses given the unique circumstances of your arrest. Mounting an aggressive defense requires deep knowledge of criminal procedural law and prior case evidence. So you need an experienced litigator in your corner.
Consider Plea Bargain Options
If the evidence against you is quite strong, your attorney may advise negotiating a plea bargain rather than risk trial. Typical deals involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. This avoids the expense, stress and uncertainty of a trial. The vast majority of criminal cases end in such plea agreements.
However, pleading guilty still carries serious consequences with a permanent criminal record. And you’ll still face jail or prison time. So you need expert counsel on whether it’s advisable to accept a deal or keep battling the charges. Make sure you fully grasp potential outcomes before making any pivotal legal decisions.
Prep For Trial If No Plea Bargain
If no acceptable plea deal can be struck with prosecutors, the next step is mounting the strongest trial defense possible. Your legal team will file motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence, undermine witness credibility and exclude prejudicial information from trial. Building a winning case requires in-depth investigation, research and thoughtful preparation.
The final weeks before trial are consumed with developing your testimony, anticipating prosecution arguments and rehearsing with your attorney. He or she will also draft jury instructions and give an opening statement highlighting reasonable doubt of your guilt. If you end up opting for a bench trial, the judge decides your fate instead of a jury. Either way, trial day in criminal court is extremely high stakes.
Stay Strong Awaiting Verdict
Awaiting a verdict after trial concludes can be emotionally and psychologically draining. But try to stay positive and keep busy rather than sitting around worrying excessively. Focus on activities like reading, exercise, talking with loved ones or anything else you find relaxing. Trust that your lawyer presented the best possible case under the circumstances.
If you receive a not guilty verdict, congratulations! The terrible weight of criminal accusations has lifted thanks to strong legal advocacy. If the verdict goes against you however, remain resilient. There are still options like appealing to a higher court. And your attorney can advise on steps to take prior to sentencing such as obtaining character references. You’ll get through this – it’s just a longer fight than hoped.
Dealing with violent crime charges turns your whole world upside down overnight. But take a deep breath and know that navigating the legal system is a marathon, not a sprint. Rely on a knowledgeable lawyer to defend your rights at every turn. Educate yourself on the process and charges so you can be an empowered participant. And talk to trusted friends and family to build a support system during this difficult period. You have the inner strength to weather this storm.