New City Criminal Defense Attorney
Police officers are trained and knowledgeable in the law, but that does not mean they have to tell you everything they know. For instance, the police may ask for permission to search your vehicle and give you the impression that refusing to comply will lead to your arrest, when you actually may have the legal right to refuse without consequences. Knowing your rights can help level the playing field in any confrontation with police and help put you in the best position if you are in fact arrested. Below are answers to a few common questions about criminal law in New York and New Jersey that may make you feel more comfortable about knowing your rights. If you are arrested in Rockland, Westchester or Orange County, New York or Bergen County, New Jersey and need to speak with an attorney, call Phillip J. Murphy at 845-639-6600 for immediate assistance. Our experienced New City criminal defense attorney has handled criminal cases for years, let us help you today.
What rights do I have as a person accused of a crime?
Many of the rights of the accused are set out in the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These rights include the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to a trial by a jury of your peers, the right to testify on your own behalf or compel others to testify, and the right to cross-examine any witnesses against you. Two of your most important rights are the privilege against self-incrimination (right to remain silent) and the right to be represented by an attorney. You are also presumed innocent under the law unless the state can prove that you are guilty, and you are entitled to appeal a conviction to a higher court.
Do I have to let the police search my vehicle if I get pulled over?
All searches have to be reasonable in order to be constitutional. The general rule is that police need probable cause or a warrant to search you or your property, but there are many instances where police are allowed to search without a warrant. One of these involves an automobile. If police have probable cause to believe a search will turn up evidence of a crime, then a limited search of your car may be permissible, even without a warrant.
Search & seizure law is complex, and you are not expected to know whether the police have authority to conduct a search in any given instance. The thing to know is that if the police tell you they are going to search, you should not try to interfere with them. If an illegal search was conducted, your attorney will work to have the evidence suppressed and maybe get the charges dropped as well. Contact our New City criminal defense attorneys for more information.
Why are the police asking my permission to search? Are they just being polite?
Another exception to the warrant requirement is that the police may search you, your belongings, your vehicle or your residence if you give them permission to. The police may ask for your permission to search when they don’t otherwise have the authority to require a search, in hopes that you will consent. Even though you may think you have nothing to hide and want to appear cooperative, there is no telling when a search may turn up something the police can use as cause to arrest you or use against you in court. You are within your rights to refuse consent to a search and should not feel bad about exercising this right.
When is it better to plead guilty than go to trial?
Be sure and consult with an attorney before you enter a guilty plea. Even if you think you did something wrong, the state may be charging you with an offense that is greater than any crime you actually committed, and more than they could prove in court. It is sometimes advisable to plead guilty and avoid a trial, depending upon the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case and your defense, the potential penalties you face if convicted, your own criminal history, and other factors. But a guilty plea is an admission of guilt, and it will most likely saddle you with a criminal record. How you plead is ultimately your decision, but your attorney can advise you on your options so you make a well-informed choice.
If my child is charged with an offense, how do I know whether she will be tried in juvenile court or adult criminal court?
In New York State, children aged 13 or older are automatically excluded from juvenile court when charged with murder and certain offenses against the person. Children aged 14 or older are excluded from juvenile court for certain weapons and property offenses. The criminal court does have the authority to send a case back to the juvenile system in the judge’s discretion.
In New Jersey, the juvenile court has authority to send any case to criminal court if the minor is 14 or older. For certain felonies, transfer to criminal court is presumed unless the defendant can convince the juvenile court to keep the case. Transfer to criminal court is mandatory for certain felonies where the minor is aged 16 or older.
Is it possible to get my criminal record sealed or expunged?
New York State allows the sealing of a record when the case is terminated in your favor (charges are dismissed or dropped, or the judgment is set aside or vacated). Also, records of some noncriminal convictions, such as traffic violations and disorderly conduct, may be sealed, as can records of certain drug convictions after you complete a diversion or treatment program.
In New Jersey, a criminal record can be expunged only if the person is not convicted of a prior or subsequent crime, and if the proceedings were dismissed or the person was acquitted or discharged without a finding of guilt. For a person who was convicted of a crime, expungement can only occur after the sentence has been completed and the required amount of time has passed, which can be one to five years, depending on the offense. Not all offenses may be expunged from the record.
Sealing or expunging a criminal record requires action on your part. Even if you serve a period of probation and the charges against you are dismissed, you still have an arrest record unless you take action to get your record expunged. Talk to an attorney for help in getting your record sealed or expunged.
Contact our New City criminal defense law firm today
From our office in New City, New York, we are well-situated to handle cases throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Phil Murphy is well-known and receives referrals from other lawyers throughout the region.