New York State Criminal Procedure
When a person is arrested in the state of New York, a complicated and stressful process begins. Fighting the criminal charges to obtain the best possible result can take several weeks, months, or possibly even years. It is important to understand how the criminal process works at each stage of the case.
Certain procedures in criminal cases must be followed by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. Just as criminal cases may be dismissed if law enforcement or the prosecution fails to follow the rules, alleged offenders can also lose cases by waiving certain rights they either did not understand or did not know they had.
Criminal Court Lawyer in Manhattan
If you have been arrested for any criminal offense in New York, you will want to immediately seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Greco Neyland, PC represents clients in Manhattan and Brooklyn against alleged crimes relating to drugs, violent crimes, drunk driving, and many other charges.
Jeff Greco and Dustan Neyland both have worked as prosecutors and they know what errors to look for when conducting thorough investigations of the cases they handle. Let them review your case by calling (212) 951-1300 today to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
New York Criminal Procedure Information Center
- What happens during an arrest and booking?
- How does an arraignment work?
- When is a grand jury involved?
- What happens before a case goes to trial?
- How does the actual trial process work?
- What happens after the trial is over?
- How does the appeals process work?
- Where can I learn more about criminal matters in New York?
When police believe that they have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a criminal act, they will place that person under arrest. In some cases, the officer must first obtain an arrest warrant. After the arrest, the suspect will be detained and booked at a local police station, where fingerprints and photographs (“mugshots”) are taken.
In certain cases, a person can be arrested and issued a desk appearance ticket (DAT) that notifies them to appear in criminal court on a certain date rather than being detained in jail. The district attorney’s office may also file a criminal complaint directly with the court, and the court can then issue an arrest warrant. A bench warrant can also be issued if a person fails to appear in court for a scheduled court appearance.
Typically within 24 hours of the arrest, the suspect will be brought before a judge for the arraignment. At arraignment, the defendant is notified of the following:
- the formal charges filed;
- the right to counsel;
- the right to seek out the services of the public defender’s office if qualified; and
- the right to a preliminary hearing or a grand jury indictment if charged with a felony.
At an arraignment, the person accused will usually enter a “not guilty” plea. The case may be dismissed. In misdemeanor cases, it is possible for a person to enter a plea at arraignment to a misdemeanor and then be sentenced immediately. The case can also be adjourned for sentencing at a later date.
If the defendant does not plead guilty, then the judge will set bail during the arraignment. Some of the factors a judge will take into account when deciding bail include:
- The nature of the crime;
- Criminal history;
- Current employment status, educational history, and length of residence in the county; and
- Previous compliance with court orders.
The courts have essentially three ways in which an alleged offender may be released:
- His or Her Own Recognizance — Certain people may be released under the basic agreement that they will appear at all future court appearances, and failing to do so will result in warrants being issued for their arrests.
- Cash Bail — This is an amount that must be paid to a jail in exchange for release. As long as the defendant makes all of his or her court appearances, most of that money will be returned—although New York City and certain jurisdictions may keep a small percentage as a fee.
- Bail Bond — For larger bond amounts that defendants and their friends or family cannot afford, a bail bond company may post the bond by agreeing to guarantee the defendant’s presence in court. These companies typically charge a fraction of the total bond amount, but this is a non-refundable fee in exchange for their services.
An arraignment is also frequently the beginning of the plea bargaining process, in which prosecutors and defense lawyers negotiate deals to dismiss charges or have alleged offenders plead guilty to reduced charges. This can actually begin before the arraignment in some cases and can continue all the way until the case is finally resolved.
In the state of New York, all felony cases are presented to a grand jury unless the suspect waives his or her right to this type of hearing. Grand juries review evidence from prosecutors and have the power to take various actions regarding the legal charges being considered.
A grand jury is made up of 23 citizens who review evidence and vote whether to issue an indictment charging a felony, reduce charges to a misdemeanor and direct the prosecutor to file with a local criminal court, or dismiss the charges and order that the person be released from custody. Following an indictment, there will be a second arraignment.
Two important steps occur before a case goes to trial: Discovery and pre-trial hearings. Discovery allows prosecutors and defense attorneys to gather all information concerning the opposing lawyer’s case.
Several different types of pre-trial hearings occur in New York courts, often regarding the admissibility of certain types of evidence. Hearings may include:
- Clayton Hearing — The criminal defense lawyer may request this hearing in an effort to have an indictment dismissed “in the interest of justice.”
- Dunaway Hearing — Defense seeks to suppress evidence police obtained from unlawful arrest.
- Frye Hearing — Challenges can be made to admissibility of scientific evidence.
- Huntley Hearing — This hearing determines whether any statement the suspect made to police is admissible at trial.
- Ingle Hearing — Commonly used in DWI cases, this hearing determines the legality of a vehicle stop.
- Mapp Hearing — This is where the defense may seek to suppress physical evidence that was unlawfully obtained, possibly through an illegal search and seizure.
- Payton Hearing — If the person was arrested inside his or her home without an arrest warrant, this hearing will be used to determine whether there was an emergency circumstance that justified the action.
- Sandoval Hearing — This hearing determines which previous criminal charges may have a prejudicial effect if the defendant testifies at his or her trial.
- Ventimiglia Hearing — Similar to Sandoval hearings, these hearings determine whether prior uncharged crimes will have a prejudicial effect if the defendant testifies at his or her trial.
- Wade Hearing — Determines the admissibility of eyewitness identification.
If a case goes to trial, then it will typically follow these steps:
- Jury selection
- Preliminary instructions to Jury
- Opening statements
- Prosecutor case presentation
- Defense case presentation
- Prosecutor rebuttal
- Closing statements
- Jury instructions
- Jury deliberations
If a defendant is convicted or found guilty, a case will be adjourned for sentencing. The defense may file a motion to have the judge set aside the verdict, and the judge can decide to order a new trial or have some or all of the charges dismissed.
In most felony cases, the Department of Probation will typically prepare a pre-sentence report. Prosecutors and defense attorneys can also prepare pre-sentencing memos, and felony victims or their families can also address the court during sentencing.
When the judge decides on the sentence, it will typically involve one of the following dispositions:
- Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)
- Conditional discharge
- Unconditional discharge
If convicted or found guilty at trial, a person can still appeal the decision to the next highest court. If the case was decided in a county or municipal Supreme Court, then the case would be appealed to that judicial department’s Appellate Division. If the appeal is rejected by the Appellate Division, then a final appeal may be filed with the New York Court of Appeals.
There are three possible outcomes to an appeal:
- Ruling is Affirmed — The conviction is upheld
- Reversal of Ruling — The conviction is reversed, and the case is either dismissed or a new trial is ordered
- Modification of Case — The sentence or the charge is changed, with the case possibly being returned to the lower court for a hearing on specific issues
The New York County District Attorney’s Office — You can find information on this website about how the criminal justice system in New York works. There are additional links to a glossary of legal terms, frequently asked questions, and victim and family resources.One Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 335-9000
New York State Unified Court System — Court information is sorted on this website by county. There are also answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, and various reports and statistics.Office of Court Administration
25 Beaver Street
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (646) 386-4500
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services— This website contains a directory of New York State criminal justice agencies that you can search by name, county, or agency type. The website also contains community resources, press releases, and statistics.New York State Police
1 Wards Island
New York, NY 10035
Greco Neyland, PC | New York Criminal Defense Attorney
Jeff Greco and Dustan Neyland work tirelessly to secure the most favorable outcome to every case they handle. Our criminal defense attorneys work closely with the people they represent, performing exhaustive investigations that allow them to challenge any illegal or weak evidence of the prosecution.
The attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC represents clients all over New York City against all types of criminal charges. Call (212) 951-1300 right now to set up a free legal consultation that will let our firm review your case.