Being charged with a crime can be one of the most harrowing and trying times in a persons’s life. The Law Office of Samuel S. Coe provides fervent, thoughtful and compassionate representation to those accused of a crime. Having handled thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including DWI, assaults, sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug possession, robberies, burglaries, drug sales, and identity theft, Mr. Coe will protect your rights, ensure that you are treated fairly and equitably by the court and the prosecution, and provide you with quality representation.
The firm represents clients in all areas of criminal defense in New York State and federal courts, including:
- Narcotic drugs, prescription medications and marijuana
- Traffic violations
- Guns and weapons possession
- Fraud and Forgery
- White-collar crimes
- Identity Theft
- Domestic violence
- Larceny and theft
- Sex crimes
- Juvenile Deliquency
- Adolescent Offenders
- Sealing motions
- 440 motions to set aside verdict
Most criminal cases in New York State courts begin with an arrest. An arrest is lawful when the police officer has probable cause to believe that the person being arrested has committed a particular offense. The police may then arrange for a formal identification of the defendant by a witness, attempt to elicit a statement from the defendant, and may search the defendant for contraband or other evidence.
The defendant will be fingerprinted, and the arresting officer will prepare an arrest report, complaint report, and other police paperwork. The information is then passed on to the District Attorney’s Office, where a prosecutor decides whether to charge the defendant with a crime, and what charges to bring.
If the District Attorney’s Office decides to prosecute, the defendant will be taken in front of a judge for arraignment on the charges. For some less serious crimes, the arresting officer may give the defendant a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT), which allows the defendant to be released from custody between the arrest and arraignment with the requirement that the defendant appear voluntarily on a specific date for arraignment.
The arraignment is one of the most critical phases in the life of a criminal case. At the arraignment, the charges are presented, the basic factual allegation is laid out, and a judge decides whether the defendant will be released from custody, whether bail will be set, or whether the defendant will be held in jail without bail during the pendency of the case. This has a dramatic impact on how the case will proceed, and on the defendant’s ability to fight the charges going forward.
After arraignment, the case will start on it’s long and meandering journey to trial. Along the way, the case may be presented to the Grand Jury where evidence will be presented in the interest of the prosecution obtaining an indictment, the defendant may meet with the prosecution in a proffer session, motions may be filed by the defendant’s attorney, pre-trial hearings may be held regarding the admissibility of evidence, and plea negotiations may take place in which the prosecution and defendant’s attorney attempt to reach an agreement on a plea and sentence.
The life of a criminal case in federal court is largely the same, but with a few key differences. After an arrest, the first chance the defendant will have to go to court before a judge is called an Initial Appearance, and will take place before a United States Magistrate Judge. As in the first arraignment in state court, at the Initial Appearance the Magistrate Judge will decide the defendant’s bail or release status, appoint an attorney for the defendant if necessary, provide the defendant with a copy of the charging instrument and have the charges against the defendant read in open court.
After the Initial Appearance, the federal prosecutor will typically present the case to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury finds that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a federal crime, the Grand Jury will issue an indictment against the defendant. Like the New York State Grand Jury, federal Grand Jury proceedings are secret, but unlike in New York State proceedings, the defendant does not have a right to appear before the Grand Jury. A defendant and the defendant’s attorney may instead decide to waive the defendant’s right to prosecution by indictment, in which case the case will not be presented to the Grand Jury and the federal prosecutor will instead file a charging instrument called an Information.
In general, an Indictment or Information must be filed within 30 days of the arrest, or within 14 days if the client is in custody, and a federal criminal case must proceed to trial within 70 days of the arrest. This differs from New York State courts, which have no specific time requirement for the filing of indictments, but instead require a felony defendant in custody to be released if there is no indictment within 6 days of arrest, and a felony case to proceed to trial within 180 days of arrest.
The vast majority of federal and state cases result in guilty pleas. Unlike in New York State courts, where a specific sentence is typically agreed to prior to a guilty plea, defendants in federal courts often agree to plea guilty with no specific promised sentence. Even if there is an approved plea agreement, the judge may not choose to follow it. Even if the judge imposes a sentence different than what is in a written plea agreement, a defendant will typically not be permitted to withdraw the guilty plea.
Most criminal cases do not go to trial, but when they do, it is vital that a defendant has exemplary and experienced legal counsel to ensure the fairness of the trial, challenge the prosecution’s witnesses and other evidence, communicate effectively to the jury and judge, and present compelling factual and legal defenses to the charges.