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What to Expect When You Meet With a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer 2024

What to Expect When You Meet With a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer 2024

There are nearly 50,000 people facing criminal charges in New York City. While a portion of these crimes are for serious offenses, many people face criminal charges for low-level misdemeanor cases, like trespassing. If you were recently arrested in the State of New York, you will need the legal services of a New York criminal defense lawyer.

An experienced crime lawyer can fight for your rights while working toward a favorable plea bargain agreement. In some cases, charges may be dropped altogether if your attorney’s investigation reveals that no crime occurred or that there were mitigating circumstances involved.

What to Expect When You Meet a Criminal Defense Attorney

During your initial consultation, your criminal defense attorney can listen to the details of your case so they can formulate a strategic plan for your criminal defense. The investigation phase involves your attorney researching the circumstances of your case and reviewing any evidence gathered by law enforcement. Plea bargaining refers to the negotiation period where prosecutors potentially offer lower punishments or reduced charges in return for a guilty plea. If needed, your defense attorney may defend you in court during a jury or bench trial.

What to Expect When You Meet with a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges

In New York, crimes are classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are for more serious crimes and come with the possibility of a one-year sentence or longer. Misdemeanors are reserved for offenses that have the potential for 15 days to one year of jail time. A misdemeanor sentence cannot result in more than a one-year sentence, and there are many times when misdemeanor cases are resolved through fines and probation only.

Many of our clients who have been charged with a crime are most concerned about incarceration, although many crimes do not have minimum jail or prison sentences. Criminal courts give great leeway to prosecutors to examine the facts of the case when assessing plea bargain offers. If a case does go to trial, a judge or jury will determine the sentencing if the defendant is found guilty.


Misdemeanor charges are either Class A, B, or unclassified. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and come with the possibility of up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Punishable offenses under this penal code include unlicensed possession of a firearm and petit larceny, among other offenses.

A Class B misdemeanor carries the potential of three months in jail and up to $500 in fines. Prostitution and unlawful assembly are two offenses under this classification. Any misdemeanor not listed in the state’s penal code is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. Driving while impaired and reckless driving are two examples of an unclassified misdemeanor.


Felonies, which are reserved for the most serious crimes, are classified A through E and further divided into violent and nonviolent crimes. Class A felonies are the most serious, while Class E felonies carry the lowest punishments among felonies.

Crimes that fall under felonies include:

  • -Robbery
  • -Homicide
  • -Burglary
  • -Grand larceny
  • -Fraud
  • -Aggravated assault

Being charged with any felony is a serious matter. Immigrants face deportations under many indictment situations. An experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights while pursuing the most favorable outcome possible based on the facts of your case. A Class A felony could result in a life sentence, while Class B felonies carry a maximum of 25 years. At the lowest end, a Class E felony could be punishable through no jail, probation, or up to four years in prison.


Certain crimes are labeled “wobblers” because they can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the alleged criminal act. Drug offenses are common wobblers because being arrested with a small amount of a drug may lead to a misdemeanor charge, while trafficking drugs may lead to a felony charge. Forgery is another crime that can be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The same goes for theft.


Q: What Is the Process of Indictment in New York?

A: Once a grand jury is impaneled, they may decide how a large number of felony cases move forward. Prosecutors will first present their evidence. If the grand jury believes that there is sufficient evidence to bring the charges, the indictment is issued. Indictments are typically reserved for serious felony cases.

Q: What Are the Benefits of Hiring a New York Defense Attorney?

A: While it is technically possible to defend oneself in a criminal trial, doing so is generally ill-advised. Criminal laws and statutes are complicated, and an experienced attorney understands the ideal routes for lowering charges or possibly having the case dismissed altogether. Law firms have the resources to investigate alleged crimes, and those findings may prove favorable for the defendant. The plea-bargaining process also requires an experienced negotiator who understands how to work with prosecutors to find the optimal results for defendants.

Q: What Are the Three Potential Outcomes of a Preliminary Hearing?

A: During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors must demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to charge the defendant. The three potential outcomes of what is effectively a mini-trial are reduced charges, dismissal, or proceeding to trial. The prosecution can call witnesses and introduce evidence. The judge then decides which of three options to proceed with.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Being Charged or Indicted?

A: If you are arrested for trespassing and the district attorney’s office accepts the case, then you are said to be charged with a crime. Being charged with a crime does not mean that you are guilty. Defendants have rights and are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Being indicted means that a grand jury believes that there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. Once a grand jury votes to indict, the person can then be prosecuted for the felony that they are alleged to have committed.

Q: How Long Do They Have to Indict You in New York?

A: The prosecutor’s office has a limited period of time to indict someone with a felony. From the time of someone’s arrest, the DA’s office must bring an indictment within six months. If prosecutors fail to meet this deadline, the current charges must be dropped. If the grand jury indicts the defendant, the case then moves on toward hearings, plea bargains, and possibly a trial.

Schedule Your New York Criminal Defense Consultation Today

Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, an experienced New York criminal defense attorney can work to reduce your charges. If your case goes to trial, the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, has significant experience litigating in the courtroom.

The prospect of facing time in jail or prison can be stressful. Let our legal team work on your behalf to explore every path possible to avoid serious jail time. Call our office today to schedule your consultation and start the process.

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