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Being charged with any criminal violation can place extreme stress on your personal and professional life. Our team is here for you. Headed by a former prosecutor, Harary Law offers unparalleled legal expertise and unlimited patience to address all your concerns. Grab our helping hand and speak to a member of our team today.

Timeline of a Criminal Case in New York


Investigation of "alleged bad act"

Put simply, this is everything that happens before your arrest. The part which gives the police the alleged reason for the arrest



Being placed into police custody Formal charges are usually filed against you within 24-48 hours. Note: the local prosecutor’s office will be the ones determining which charges to bring against you in court. This could differ from your arrest charges (the charges under which the police processed your arrest). While this does not have much significance on the final outcome of the case, it is important to realize that police are still building the case against you even after your arrest. It is always recommended to wait for your lawyer to be present before speaking with any law enforcement personnel. You have a right to remain silent. Protect your rights. Respectfully request your lawyer.



Your first stop after the back of the police car will likely be the local precinct in the area in which you were arrested. Here, police interrogation and initial processing will begin. At this time you will be given the opportunity to make a phone call. 



Central Booking

Within 4 to 6 hours you will be taken to the criminal court in the county of your arrest for further processing at Central Booking.


And the waiting begins…

You can expect to appear before a judge and be arraigned within 24 hours of your arrest



First court appearance, you will meet the public defender assigned to your case or your private lawyer of if you were able to contact your preferred lawyer.

This is also the first time you can see your friends and family following your arrest

Arraignment courts in the five boroughs are open 7 days a week and are open from 8AM-1AM. The arraignment court clerk staff will be able to provide you with court hours for other counties. This information is also available online.

The judge will read the charges against you and tell you what your rights are, like the right to a trial and the right to have an attorney appointed for you if you don’t have the money to hire one. With an attorney by your side (hired or provided to you) you then answer the charges. You answer the charges by telling the court if you are guilty or not guilty. 


Next the judge will decide if you are being released from the court house (to return for a later date) or if you will be held in jail until your next court date. This is known as the bail hearing portion of your arraignment. It is important that an experienced attorney represents you at this critical point in your criminal case. It can mean the difference of spending more time in jail away from your loved ones or returning home to resume your life and prepare for your next court date.


What happens after the arraignment depends on the type of crime you are being charged, specifically a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor matters will be adjourned for a future court appearance. Felony matters will be adjourned awaiting Grand Jury action before returning to a court calendar.


Note:  using your phone call to contact family and friends while in the precinct can help arrange the hiring of a private lawyer to represent you at the arraignment.



The process of reviewing the evidence the prosecution has against you. This is the longest part of any criminal case. It is highly recommended that you engage with competent counsel to help navigate you through discovery.


Motion practice and pre-trial hearings when appropriate

Your lawyer will make certain arguments before the court and submit documents for the judge to review.


At this point, your case can either result in a plea deal, a dismissal, or continue to trial.

Have you been charged with assault?

Assault charges in New York are taken very seriously. The potential penalties for an assault conviction in New York range from probation to years in prison. If you or someone you care about has been charged with assault of any kind, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

In New York, an assault charge can change drastically based on the given circumstances and the facts surrounding your assault charge. On the most basic level, a charge of assault is referring to a situation where you caused physical injury another party. More serious assault charges include gang assault, action aided by two or more individuals, carries a minimum sentence of 3.5 years behind bars. The more dangerous the assault, the higher the penalty.


Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor assault or a felony assault, it is important that you speak with a highly trained and skilled criminal defense lawyer about your case.

Have you been charged with a Domestic Violence related offense?

Domestic Violence in New York is classified as any violent act that occurs between intimate partners. New York takes Domestic Violence charges seriously and most District Attorneys’ offices have a specialized bureau dedicated to the prosecution of Domestic Violence crimes. Orders of Protections are nearly automatically issued for the aggrieved party and the arrested party will not be allowed to return home during the pendency of the case. Besides for an Order of Protection, domestic violence charges could lead to jail time, fines, and the loss of child custody rights.


Given the sensitivity of these charges it is important for you to have an attentive criminal defense attorney by your side throughout the process.

Are you facing Drug Charges?

To be charged with drug possession in New York, police simply need to find the drugs on your possession. The law in New York does not care whether the drugs were yours or not. The prosecutor only has to prove that the drugs were found on your possession.


A prosecutor can meet this burden by showing you had “possession” of the drugs in one of three ways- actual possession, constructive possession, or joint possession.

Actual possession is as simple as it sounds- the police discovered the drugs on your body and anything attached to your body such as a knapsack, a purse, or a gym bag wrapped over your shoulder. You are deemed to be in “constructive possession” of a controlled substance when the police found the substance in a location that you had dominion or control over. For example, drugs found in your bedroom dresser or in your refrigerator. Joint possession of a drug means that more than one person had possession of the drug at the same time- two or more people mutually possessed the drug. This is best understood by thinking of a scenario of drugs found in a vehicle with multiple passengers- police officers will arrest the driver and all passengers, and it can be proven that all occupants of the vehicle had “joint” possession of the substance.

Prosecutors have an easier time proving actual possession as opposed to constructive and joint possession.


In summary, you can be charged with drug possession in New York as long as the State can show that you had reason to know about the controlled substance and had the ability to have control over the drugs.  


Penalties for drug crimes in New York range from fines of a few hundred dollars to a maximum of life in prison for operating as a major trafficker. Additionally, you may be required to complete a period of post-release supervision known as “supervised release” or proof of participation in appropriate treatment programs. New York also enhances penalties for those with prior convictions. Alternative to incarcerations and programming to avoid a criminal record could be available for certain drug charges.

It is important that you speak with a New York criminal defense attorney today to understand the drug charges against you. Sometimes negotiating a plea deal involving drug treatment can be in your best interest.

Have you been charged with Weapon and/or Gun Possession Charges?

Under New York law, some of the most serious charges you can face include the possession or the use of a weapon. The bulk of weapon charges can be find in Article 265 of New York’s Penal Law. If you were arrested in New York City you can also be facing added Administrative charges found in NYC Administrative Code 10-131. The law allows for several degrees of criminal possession of a weapon, all with varying degrees of seriousness. Ranging from being caught with a pocket knife to a loaded pistol, prosecutors often have an easy time proving possession of a weapon before a judge and jury. Your defense will likely be based on how the gun or the weapon was recovered from the crime scene. A trained criminal defense attorney will be able to identify holes in the prosecution’s case and pinpoint problems with the way the police recovered the weapon. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to prove that the weapon was never even in your possession.


In short, you can be charged with criminal possession of a weapon when you are in possession of a banned weapon as defined by New York state law or when you use any instrument in a dangerous and unlawful manner against another.


The law is especially harsher on non-citizens in that they can be charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon if any dangerous or deadly weapon is found on their person. Article 265 also covers the sale of firearms and prohibited uses of licensed weapons. 


If you are facing criminal possession of a weapon charges in New York, it is important for you to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately after your arrest. Remember, New York does not take weapon charges lightly. The penalty for the lowest degree of weapon charges include up to one year in jail, heavy fines, and probation periods.

  • What happens if I ask the police for my lawyer?
    In theory, once you unequivocally request for a lawyer to be present police officers should stop questioning you about the alleged crime and wait for your lawyer.
  • What is discovery in a criminal case?
    In the criminal law world discovery=evidence. Do not be distracted by the terminology, it simply means the evidence for your case. Of course, both the prosecution and the defense are required to turn over their “discovery,” but the onus largely falls on the prosecution. In terms of criminal defense, discovery refers to all the evidence the prosecution has in their possession in connection to your arrest and not merely all the evidence that the prosecution intends to introduce at trial. Don't be fooled into thinking you are not entitled to the evidence just because the prosecution will not be relying on that piece of evidence for trial. Due to recent law changes in New York in favor of the accused, you have a right to any and all of evidence that led to your arrest and almost all the discovery developed against you after the arrest. As long as the information is within the “possession, custody, or control” of the District Attorney’s Office you are entitled to a copy of it. Every single piece of evidence. It is important that you hire a highly skilled and experience attorney to request and review the evidence in your case and most importantly to hold the prosecution to their discovery obligations.
  • What is a public defender, and should I use a public defender for my criminal case?
    A Public defender is a lawyer provided to you free of charge. The public defender is appointed to represent you during the pendency of your criminal case, if you cannot otherwise afford a private attorney. While public defenders provide an invaluable service to our legal system, it may not always be in your best interest to use one. Generally, you cannot select your public defender and some clients find it difficult to develop trust in someone they did not choose. If you are not satisfied with the attorney appointed to your case, you may have a hard time requesting a new public defender. Public defenders, especially in New York City, typically juggle hundreds of cases at a time, and have limited available time to actually meet with clients. It is not uncommon for your public defender to enter into a plea deal with the prosecution only minutes after meeting with you. Please take the time to consider which option best serves you. Your freedom and your criminal record is not something to be taken lightly.
  • When are police officers required to read me my Miranda Rights?
    Once the officer begins his/her custodial interrogation of you. For purposes of this determination, you are considered to be in custody when you reasonably believe you are not free to leave. You are under interrogation when the questions being asked are likely to illicit an incriminating response- for example the officer is asking you about the alleged crime and your activities connected to the alleged crime. Key Points: If you are in custody (not free to leave) and under interrogation (law enforcement asking you questions about the alleged crime and your alleged criminal activity) your Miranda Rights are automatically invoked, and the Miranda Warnings must be read to you. If you ever find yourself in a confusing or compromising position when confronted by law enforcement, do not be afraid to request that a lawyer be present. Call your lawyer!
  • When should I hire a lawyer for my criminal case?
    The short answer- the sooner the better. Criminal cases are serious and therefore it is never too early to hire the right attorney. Even before an arrest is made, if you are connected to the alleged crime police may call you in for questioning at any moment. Knowing that you have an experienced professional by your side will certainly put your mind at ease and help you avoid unnecessary legal issues. A competent and experienced criminal defense lawyer will ensure you do not inadvertently say the wrong thing to the police or other law enforcement agency. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer immediately after arrest or as soon as possible after you become the subject of a government investigation can greatly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. Oftentimes, individuals believe they have the ability to protect themselves from arrest or investigation by simply explaining their side of the story to the police officers. While cooperating with the police in a respectful manner is always recommended, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced attorney by your side throughout the process. Your side of the story can easily be misinterpreted or misapplied by law enforcement. It is not uncommon that after speaking with the police you may suddenly find yourself as the main subject of their investigation. Police officers, especially in New York, are highly skilled interrogators and well trained to extract critical information from you that will help their case. Any statement you offer to the police can and will be used against you. Like the warning offered by the famous adage, “if you go looking for trouble you’ll find it,” if the police are interested in questioning you, it is likely because you were somehow connected to a bad scene. Without breaking any New York and Federal laws, law enforcement personnel can be deceptive and dishonest while attempting to pry incriminating information from a suspect. In conclusion- everyone and anyone is always a suspect. Do not be fooled into thinking you are above police investigation or you are capable of charming yourself out of any situation. The rights and protections afforded by both the New York Constitution and the United States Constitution exist for a reason. Even if you believe you had nothing to do with the alleged crime, it is in your best interest to consult with, retain, or hire a trained and experienced criminal defense attorney before those rights and protections are waived or ignored.
  • What are the Miranda Warnings?
    When in custody and being interrogated for a crime, law enforcement will preface their questioning to you with a list of statements more commonly known as Miranda Warnings. In most jurisdictions especially in New York City, police officers will ask you after each statement if you understood the statement and then after all statements will ask you if you wish to proceed with answering their questions. If you answer all the questions in the affirmative with a “yes” and then proceed with questioning, it is as considered as though you “waived” your Miranda rights. Some officers may explain the warnings to you in a little more detail or may use slightly different wording, however, the general requirements to satisfy the Miranda Warnings are as follows: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” In New York City it is common for police officers to read these statements to you from a form and then ask you to sign the form. For example: “You have a right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand? You have a right to consult an attorney before speaking tp the police and have an attorney present during any questioning now or in thr future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you without cost. Do you understand? If you do not have an attorney available. You have the right to remain silent until you have the opportunity to consult with one. Do you understand? Now that I advised you of your rights, are you willing to answer questions? Signature of Subject:
  • What is the difference between jail and prison?
    Jail= short term sentences. Usually run by local government. For example, Rikers Island hosts New York City’s main jail complex. Prison= long term sentences. Usually run by state governments. Designed for long term incarcerations.
  • What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
    A misdemeanor is a crime that is generally punishable by up to one year in jail. A felony is a crime that is punishable by more than one year in prison. Both categories carry varying levels of associated monetary fines and different durations of probation.
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