Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions of Brooklyn, New York Attorney
David B. Epstein

The following information includes frequently asked criminal defense questions. The answers stated are general in nature and are not intended to apply to every criminal defense situation. Each case is different and carries its own set of circumstances which must be taken into consideration by competent legal counsel. By contacting criminal defense Attorney David B. Epstein, you can receive a personal consultation regarding your specific criminal defense case.

What happens if I am arrested for breaking a criminal law?

If you are arrested for breaking a criminal law, the case is taken before a magistrate who issues a warrant if necessary and sets a bond for appearance in court. If the defendant cannot post bond, he or she may be incarcerated pending appearance in court. If bond is posted, he or she will remain free pending appearance at an arraignment. An arraignment usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest, or the first date available if on a weekend or holiday. The arraignment is held before a judge who formally tells the defendant the offense in which he or she is being charged and informs the defendant of their constitutional rights and of the possible penalties involved. The defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty at this time, the bond or bail may be reviewed, and a date for the next hearing is scheduled.

> Back to Top

Is domestic violence a crime punishable under criminal law?

Whether the domestic violence is a crime depends upon the particular circumstances, as well as the laws of New York. Often domestic violence is both a crime subject to criminal punishment and a civil wrong subject to restraint upon personal conduct and award of monetary damages.

It is a frequent pattern in domestic violence cases for the victim to be abused, call the police, press charges, then reconcile with the abuser and seek to have the charges dropped, only to have the entire process repeated. Because of this, in some local communities and states, domestic violence is now prosecuted as a crime by city and district attorneys, even without charges being filed by the victim.

> Back to Top

Can police officers use force to arrest me?

A police officer may use as much force as necessary for a criminal arrest, as long as it is reasonable and lawful.  After an arrest is made, a police officer may apply handcuffs to a defendant if the officer thinks that it is necessary to prevent injury or escape. If the defendant claims an unlawful application of force was used by the arresting officer, a judge will hear the defendant's argument and decide whether or not the force used was reasonable for the circumstances.

> Back to Top

Will I be fingerprinted or have to be in a line-up?

If you are arrested, the police have the right to take your fingerprints and photographs. You may also be required to participate in a line-up, to provide a sample of your handwriting, to speak phrases associated with the offense, and/or to have samples of your hair taken. However, you may insist that an attorney be present during this time.

> Back to Top

What is the role of the judge in a criminal trial?

The judge in a criminal trial controls all legal proceedings in the courtroom. The judge determines whether certain evidence is admissible or not, and rules on preliminary matters and discovery issues that the defense and prosecution may have. And before the jury decides a case, the judge instructs the jury as to how they must be lawfully guided through the decision process.

> Back to Top

What is the role of the jury in a criminal trial?

The jury in a criminal trial considers all aspects of the case for as long as is needed in order to come to a unanimous decision. Once a verdict is reached, it is presented to the defendant in court. A jury may find a person guilty of all, some, or none of the crimes charged in a criminal trial. In some cases, depending on the evidence presented and the nature of the instructions given by the Court to the jury, a jury can convict a defendant of a lesser crime than initially charged. If the jury presents a not guilty verdict, the proceedings are over and the jury verdict may not be overturned. If the verdict is guilty, however, the defense may proceed with an appeal.

> Back to Top

What is bail?

Bail is money or other property that is deposited with the court in order to ensure that the person accused returns to court when he or she is required to do so. However, if the defendant does not come to court when required, or violates his or her bail conditions, the bail will be forfeited to the court and will not be returned.

> Back to Top

What happens during a bail hearing?

Upon arrest, the accused appears before a magistrate or judge for a violation of a criminal law. The magistrate or judge will conduct a pre-trial bail hearing resulting in four possible results:

  • Recognizance - This is the defendant’s written promise to appear in court on the date set and abide by the terms set by the magistrate or judge. No monetary pledge, cash deposit, or security by property or professional bondsman is required.

  • Unsecured Bond - This release, pending court appearance, is based on the defendant’s written agreement to appear in court on the date set and abide by the conditions set by the magistrate or judge. It is backed by an agreement by the defendant to forfeit money to the court if she or he does not appear in court on the date set.

  • Secured Bond - This is secured by either a cash deposit, a pledge of real or personal property, or a pledge by a third party that the defendant will appear in court on the date set and abide by the conditions of the release. The judge may forfeit any type of security in the event the defendant does not appear in court on the date set.

  • Ineligible for Bail - The defendant is denied a release pending court appearance.

The bail decision may be appealed to a judge who will re-examine the evidence. A violation of any agreement of release pending court appearance can result in the issuance of an "Order to Show Cause" why the release should not be revoked.  

> Back to Top

What happens at an arraignment?

A suspect has the right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay, usually within two court days, after being arrested. He or she appears before a judge who will read the offenses in which the suspect is officially being charged, they are informed of their constitutional rights, and advised of applicable penalties. At the arraignment, an attorney is appointed in the event of financial hardship, and bail can be raised or lowered.  A suspect may also ask to be released on personal recognizance at this time, even if bail was previously set.

If charged with a misdemeanor, a suspect pleads guilty or not guilty at the arraignment. Or, if the court approves, a suspect can plead nolo contendere, meaning the charges will not be contested. Legally, this is the same as a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against the suspect in a non-criminal case.

If misdemeanor charges are not dropped, a trial is held later in court of law. If charged with a felony, however, and the charges are not dismissed, the next step is a preliminary hearing.

> Back to Top

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Any person who is facing a criminal charge, no matter how minor, will benefit from consulting a qualified criminal defense lawyer. Unlike civil court cases, where money or property may be at stake, a person suspected of committing a criminal act is in jeopardy of losing their fundamental freedom. Act quickly to protect your rights by contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can identify important pretrial issues and bring appropriate motions which might significantly improve a defendant's case.

Unlike civil law, which involves private law suits between two or more private entities, criminal law involves defendants who are being prosecuted by the state or federal government. Criminal defense Attorney David B. Epstein represents individuals who are being prosecuted by the state of New York for an act that has been classified as a crime. Crimes are generally classified as:

  • Misdemeanors- less serious offenses that are normally punishable by a fine like some traffic violations, petty theft cases, or possession of a small amount of marijuana, or

  • Felonies- more serious offenses that warrant imprisonment of one or more years, such as rape, grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, or homicide/murder.

Criminal defense Attorney David B. Epstein has successfully negotiated and litigated both misdemeanor and felony crimes and is experienced in defending New York clients against state criminal charges.

Another important distinction between civil law and criminal law is the standard of proof that is required by the law. In order to prevail in a civil case, the plaintiff must demonstrate by 51% that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In criminal law, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with the crime actually committed the crime. This standard is much higher than the civil standard, and requires the skilled legal representation of a qualified criminal defense Attorney to fight for a defendant’s exoneration.

If you or someone you know in Brooklyn, New York, or within the surrounding cities and counties of New York, needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, contact Attorney David B. Epstein at 866-784-2299 or complete the contact form on this site to begin your consultation with a seasoned criminal defense trial attorney.

> Back to Top

Get a free consultation

Captcha Image
This is a paid advertisement.
By submitting a question, you agree
to our terms and conditions.