Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I do if I’m under investigation?
- If this is my first arrest, won’t prosecutors go easy on me?
- If I just plead guilty without the trouble of getting a lawyer, I’ll get the lightest punishment, right?
- How much will a lawyer cost? What if I can’t afford it?
- A DWI isn’t that serious, so I shouldn’t hire an attorney, right?
- What is the difference between a federal offense and a New York state offense?
- I did the crime I am accused of. Why should I hire a lawyer?
You have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If you are under investigation or have been arrested, make use of that right. Do not speak to detectives or cops. Do not discuss matters with friends or family members — even loyal loved ones may face subpoenas and be required to testify. Most of all, do not say anything about the matter on social media. Even people professing their innocence have been known to accidentally let details slip that later are used against them and cost them their freedom.
Instead, hire an attorney right away! Everything you say to your lawyer in an attorney-client relationship is privileged and confidential. Your lawyer can advise you about what to say and what not to say.
For most offenses, the fact that an offense is the first one makes no difference under the law in the range of penalties for a conviction. You do not get a free pass for a first offense, and can face time in jail or prison, even for a misdemeanor.
However, if this is your first offense, that may be a factor if your attorney negotiates for a reduced charge or for a lighter sentence, or even a dismissal. However, nothing will be given to you. Your attorney will need to put forth every disposable resource he has in order to get the best possible outcome for your case.
If I just plead guilty without the trouble of getting a lawyer, I’ll get the lightest punishment, right?
Absolutely not. Often, prosecutors see it as their job to seek the harshest possible punishment they can secure for people convicted. They do not have sympathy for people who do not hire counsel; in fact, they may even see such a person as an easy mark – someone who will accept a plea bargain that a represented defendant would not ordinarily accept with the proper advice of retained counsel.
It’s not what will it will cost you to hire a lawyer that you should be concerned with. You should be more concerned with how much it will cost you down the road if you do not hire a lawyer for this case now. It will cost much more to have a criminal conviction. There are often fines and fees. You may spend time in jail or prison, losing the ability to work and earn a paycheck. You could lose your job, and a criminal record makes you less employable.
Your initial consultation with Greco Neyland, PC is free. Before you make any decisions, talk to us. Find out how much your defense might cost. We may be able to work a way out to finance your case that works out to a manageable payment plan for you.
On the contrary, a DWI is very serious. A conviction for Driving While Intoxicated can lead to time in jail, probation, fines, surcharges, a loss of driving privileges, and/or being required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car — and that’s just for a first offense.
Put simply, the difference is that a federal offense is a violation of the laws of the federal government, found in the U.S. Code, and a state offense is a violation of state law, mostly found in New York Penal Law. Both have jurisdiction anywhere in New York City.
The two have different processes. Federal charges are tried by an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in a U.S. District Court. State charges are tried by an Assistant District Attorney (ADA), in New York City Criminal Court for misdemeanors or in New York Supreme Court for felonies.
State charges are far more common. Federal charges can be more challenging, because the agencies investigating these crimes usually have far more resources than the NYPD or state agencies. Any criminal charge, though, should be treated very seriously.
You have the right to an attorney in both state and federal proceedings. However, your lawyer must be licensed to practice in that court. At Greco Neyland, PC, we are licensed in all New York state courts, and in both the Southern District of New York (which includes Manhattan) and the Eastern District (which includes Brooklyn).
Sir William Blackstone, an English judge whose philosophy has been instrument in what would become American jurisdiction, once wrote “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.” Our judicial system has been built around that system, and protecting the rights of the accused is paramount to securing convictions.
It is important to remember that the Court finds a person “guilty” or “not guilty” — not “innocent.” To convict a person, the prosecutor must provide evidence that proves every element of a criminal accusation, including, in many offenses, that the accused had a certain intent. That evidence must have been gathered while respecting the accused’s rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
To escape conviction, you do not have to prove your innocence. If the prosecution does not have sufficient legally obtained evidence against you, you go free. An experienced defense attorney is best equipped to show why evidence is sufficient or illegally obtained.