Criminal Law

 

 
 

 

Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you seek assistance from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process, explain your options, and work to craft the strongest possible defense on your behalf.

Eugene F. Levy has over 30 years of Criminal Law experience as a Criminal Defense Lawyer. He defends people facing both State and Federal misdemeanor and felony criminal charges. Contact his office for free initial consultation regarding your case.

Over the years Eugene F. Levy has tried hundreds of cases in both State and Federal Courts as such he understands the importance of thorough preparation and exacting attention to detail. Moreover, because the time spent as a former counsel to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly and counsel to the Minority Leader of the New York State Senate and other Legislators we have a unique understanding of the laws guiding your matter.

Hire a Lawyer with experience and the background to successfully defend you against serious felony charges. Contact the Law Office of Eugene F. Levy for a consultation. Eugene F. Levy defends people throughout the Metropolitan Area including the five boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Call Eugene F. Levy at (718) 261-7900.

What should I do if I'm Arrested?

If you are arrested in New York, the decision as to whether you should answer any questions is entirely your own. You should give this matter your careful consideration because oral statements, as well as written statements, will be received as evidence in court against you.

If you are offered any inducement to sign a document or if you are threatened, coerced, or forced to sign anything, advise your attorney immediately and the senior police official in charge.

If you do not have an attorney, you may ask to speak to one immediately. If you are in doubt about whether you should talk with the arresting officer or other law enforcement officers, you should wait until you have spoken with an attorney before giving up your right to remain silent.
 
 

When are you under arrest?

You are arrested when law enforcement officers take you into custody or otherwise deprive you of your freedom of movement in any significant way, in order to hold you to answer for a criminal offense. Under New York law, police officers are obligated to identify themselves, advise that you are under arrest, and explain why.

You may, in fact, be under arrest even though no one has actually used the word "arrest" or any other comparable word. The fact that you have been deprived of your freedom of movement in a significant manner may amount legally to an arrest.

Can a law enforcement officer detain you without arresting you?

Based upon reasonable suspicion that you may be involved in criminal activity, a police officer may require you to identify yourself and explain your presence at a particular time, without arresting you. Under New York law, the officer may not remove you from the immediate vicinity without making an arrest, unless you voluntarily accompany the officer to some other locations.

If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are armed, he or she may conduct a limited pat-down of your outer garments for the purpose of detecting weapons. If this "frisk" results in a reasonable belief on the part of the officer that you are carrying a weapon, the officer may remove the suspicious object for protection. The officers must return to you any object found, unless they place you under arrest. Unless the officer places you under arrest, the frisk or search must be limited to suspected weapons.

The officer may ask you some questions in order to complete his investigation. You have a constitutional right not to answer them. At the conclusion of this temporary detention the officer must either arrest you or let you go. If you should enter a retail establishment where goods are placed on display and for sale, the merchant or the employees may detain you on the premises for a reasonable time for questioning if they have probable cause to believe that you have stolen or have attempted to steal goods for sale. Under such circumstances a police officer called to the scene may make an arrest for shoplifting even though the alleged offense was not committed in the officer's presence.
 
 

When are you arrested with a warrant?

A police officer may arrest you at any time if he or she has a warrant for your arrest, or if the officer knows that a warrant for your arrest has been issued.
A warrant is an order issued by the court charging that you committed a particular crime and directing all police officers of the state to arrest you and bring you before the court. You may require the officer to read the warrant after you have been arrested. An arrest warrant should not be confused with a search warrant.

When are you arrested without a warrant?

In New York, a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant under a variety of circumstances. Among those circumstances are:

  1. When the officer knows that a warrant for your arrest has been issued and is still in effect even though the warrant may be held by another police officer;
  2. When the arresting officer has good reason to believe that a felony has been or is being committed and that you are the person who has committed or is committing the felony. A felony is a crime which is punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a term of years. Examples of felonies include the more serious crimes such as murder, robbery, burglary, sale of narcotics, as well as grand larceny and many others;
  3. When a misdemeanor is committed in the presence of an officer.
 
 

Can an officer use force when making an arrest?

The officer may employ all reasonable and necessary force to overcome resistance in making a lawful arrest. The legality of the arrest has nothing to do with whether or not you are ultimately convicted.

Resisting arrest with violence is a felony under New York law. Resisting arrest without violence or offering to do violence is a misdemeanor. You could be convicted of either of these crimes, even if you were found not guilty of the crime for which you were arrested. If you believe that your rights are being violated, make it a point to remember exactly what the police officer did and then advise your attorney concerning this at the earliest possible time.

When can you be searched?

While the law of search and seizures is very complex, and often will depend on the facts and circumstances in a particular case, you should not resist a search with force; however, neither should you consent to an improper search. If you do object to a particular search, advise the officer who is conducting it that you do not consent, that you do object to the search and ask the officer to identify him or herself.

In most cases involving search and seizure issues, "reasonableness" of the search is the legal test without a search warrant. If police officers arrive at your premises armed with a search warrant, they may search only that area or portion authorized in the warrant itself. You are entitled to have a copy of the search warrant left with you and served on you if present. If you are arrested in your home, the officers may conduct a limited search of the immediate area where you are arrested without a search warrant. They may also check the rest of the house for any hidden accomplices. They may seize any contraband, stolen property, instrumentalities or evidence of a crime that they discover in plain view in any portion of the house where the officers have a right to be.

Your automobile may also be impounded and inventoried if there is no qualified licensed driver or towing agent to take charge of it. If an officer is about to impound your car, tell the officer if you can have a relative or friend who will come and get it, or that you have a preference of your own station, to tow your car.
 
 

What procedures are usually followed by the police when someone is arrested?

  1. The officer will take you back to the police station
  2. You will be advised generally as to the charges against you. However, these charges may be changed later and stated in more detail by the office of the prosecuting attorney or in some instances by the grand jury.
  3. You may be required to participate in a lineup, to prepare a sample of your handwriting, or to speak phrases associated with the crime with which you are charged, to put on certain wearing apparel or give a sample of your hair. You should ask to have your defense attorney present during any of these procedures. You have an absolute right to counsel if you are asked to participate in a lineup after you have been formally charged by the prosecuting attorney or indicated by a grand jury.
  4. You also may be required to be fingerprinted and photographed.
  5. You will be arraigned at a court session. An arraignment is no more than a plea of guilty or not guilty, to the charge. If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set. If you plead guilty, a sentencing date will be set generally after the court has received a pre-sentence investigation report from the New York state Department of Probation. Under some circumstances a plea and sentence can take place at the arraignment.

What happens to personal property when arrested?

If you should be booked into a jail, the police may take money and property from you for safekeeping. They should inventory your money and property and give you a copy of the inventory. At the time of your release after an arraignment or at the conclusion of your case, such money or property that was not seized as evidence in the case will be returned to you. You should make certain that the inventory includes all the items taken from you.
 
 

What are your rights after your arrest?

  • You have the right to know the crime or crimes with which you have been charged.
  • You have a right to know the identity of the police officers who are dealing with you.
  • You have the right to communicate by telephone with your attorney, family, friends or a bondsman as soon as practicable after you have been brought into the police station.
  • The police have a right to complete their booking procedures before you are allowed to use the telephone.
  • You have the right to be represented by counsel at all critical stages in your case. If you cannot afford a criminal defense attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you if you qualify under existing criteria as an indigent person. This right pertains to any offense, for which any imprisonment might result.
Constitutional rights may be waived or given up voluntarily. Before you say or sign anything that might result in a waiver of a constitutional right, it is in your best interest to contact a criminal defense lawyer and weigh your decision carefully.

What rights do you have when questioned by the police?

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. If you choose to speak, anything you say can be used against you in court.
  3. If you decide to answer any questions, you may stop at any time, advise the police officer that you wish to have an attorney present and all questioning should cease.
  4. You have the right to consult with your attorney before answering any questions. You have the right to have your attorney present if you decide to answer any questions, and if you cannot afford a criminal defense attorney, one will be provided for you or appointed for you by the court without cost to you before any further questions may be asked.
 
 

How are you released?

You may be released upon personal recognizance (you promise to appear in court when directed), or you may be released on bail, which involves the posting of either cash money or a surety bond as security for your court appearance. Bail bonds from licensed sureties are usually available at a cost of 10 percent of the amount of the bail.

If you are taken into custody and booked into jail and remain there, you must be brought before a Judge within 24 hours of your arrest. At that appearance, you may request that the Judge set bail taking into consideration your ties in the community, financial resources, employment record or any other factors, including your past criminal record and your past history of failure to appear in court when scheduled.

Upon arrival at the jail or shortly thereafter, you will be given an opportunity to contact your attorney. The attorney, in turn, may arrange for the posting of a bond and may appear with you in court and ask the court to lower the bail if it is believed to be excessive under the circumstances.

What is Criminal Law?

The criminal law sets the acceptable limits of conduct in society. Everyone is expected to obey the criminal law under the penalty of punishment. The criminal law generally does not require you to perform an action; rather, it forbids an unlawful action. The State of New York and the Federal government have their own set of criminal laws. Criminal law consists of the criminal laws themselves and the law of criminal procedure.

  • The criminal law consists of the legal rules defining criminal conduct and how it is punished.
  • Criminal procedure consists mainly of the procedure used to prosecute a crime and the rights of the defendant.

Criminal laws must precisely define the conduct that they prohibit so that a person of average intelligence can understand the forbidden conduct and conform their behavior to law. A criminal law that is difficult to interpret is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
 
 

What is crime?

A crime is a wrong committed by a person against another person or entity. Because a wrong is committed against all members of the community, not just the particular victim, the victim does not make the decision to prosecute the accused person. The state or federal government, acting as the people's representative, prosecutes the crime. A crime is punishable by imprisonment, fine, restitution or other penalty.

What are the different types of crimes?

Under the common law (judge-made law) inherited from England, crimes are divided into two main categories-felonies and misdemeanors. The distinction between them is based on the crime's seriousness and on the length of punishment.

  • Felonies are crimes generally punishable by more than one year's imprisonment. You have the right to a jury trial when charged with a felony crime.
    Felonies include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnaping, and treason, etc...
  • Misdemeanors are crimes generally punishable by less than one year's imprisonment. You have the right to a jury trial when charged with a
    misdemeanor if the crime is considered serious enough to warrant a possible six month jail sentence.
 
 

What are the sources of Criminal Law?

The New York State Legislature and the U.S. Congress enact the laws that govern our conduct.

State Criminal Laws

Traditionally, crime is considered a matter of state rather than federal concern. Because of this, most ordinary crimes are covered by state criminal laws. For example, a burglary that took place within the state, committed by local residents, is covered by state criminal laws and ordinarily will be prosecuted by local prosecutors.
 
 

Federal Criminal Laws

Congress does enact criminal laws in areas falling within the federal jurisdiction set out in the U.S. Constitution and concerning federal matters. Congress has enacted federal laws dealing with federal property, federal employees, federal taxes, receipt of federal benefits, and federally guaranteed civil rights. For example, it is federal crime to rob a U.S. Post office or to assault federal employees.

Additionally, there are significant federal criminal laws covering matters dealing with interstate commerce. If interstate commerce is involved, these laws make criminal conduct normally prosecuted in State Court a Federal crime. Those crimes could involve communication (telephone, telegraph, or the U.S. Mail) in committing the crime. If a person is convinced of a federal crime, the court will sentence the defendant pursuant to the federal sentencing guidelines.

What are the Elements of Crime?

Basic Elements
Crimes (except for strict liability) have two basic elements: the guilty mind and the guilty act. The technical terms for these elements are the Latin names "mens rea" meaning "guilty mind" and "actus rea" meaning "thing done". Generally a crime is committed when a person commits a guilty act accompanied by a guilty mind.

Specific Elements
Crimes also have specific elements that are contained in the definitions of a crime. For example, a murder is an intentional killing of a human being. The elements are that the accused must have (1) purposely or knowingly (2) caused a death (3) of a human being. To obtain a conviction, the state must prove all of the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
 
 
Mr. Levy looks forward to each new case as a fresh challenge to succeed. Call him today for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (718) 261-7900.