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NYC Criminal Lawyers

Joseph Potashnik & Associates PC is a boutique Manhattan law firm with premier NYC criminal lawyers practicing in our criminal defense group. With over 75 years of combined experience, we have built a solid track record of defending the most complicated cases in New York state courts and in federal courts around the country. Our NYC criminal attorneys do nothing but helping clients investigated for or accused of crimes. We are experienced trial lawyers, having tried over a hundred cases to jury verdict. Above all, we understand how the criminal justice system works and how to navigate it to achieve the best possible results for our clients. If you need to discuss your case with a New York criminal defense attorney, call us today!

 

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FAQ

Our firm focuses on educating our clients about their present situation, and the potential outcome they can expect.
Here are some of the more commonly asked questions.

The conditions of probation will vary based on whether you are on supervised or unsupervised probation. Unsupervised probation is the lowest rung on the ladder. There are some things you will have to do, but you have more freedom than you would if you were supervised. Most states have the same requirements if you are on probation.

One of the things that you will have to do is keep in contact with your officer. This could be in the form of phone calls, home visits or office appointments. If you are on supervised probation, then you will probably have an office visit once a month. The officer will probably come to the home once a month to make sure you are still at the address listed. After you are sentenced in court, you usually have to report to the officer within 24 hours to complete the paperwork, but some states will give you 72 hours.

You have to stay in a certain area after being placed on probation. You can usually move to any location in the state, but you can't move out of the state. When you move, you have to report to the officer within 72 hours to make him aware of the new address. Some states require approval before you move to another home. This is for your safety, especially if the people you will live with are involved in drug activity or are involved with the court. You also need to maintain employment. This is important because you will have to pay monthly fees. If you don't pay the fees, then the officer can violate you. Behavior must remain non-threatening. If you are a felon, you are not allowed to possess any kind of firearm. Some probation departments won't allow you to keep a firearm until you are off of probation.

If you are on supervised probation, then you will have to complete drug tests. These could be announced or unannounced. If you fail a drug test, then it could result in a violation. You are not to commit any new criminal charges. If you are a sex offender, you are not allowed to live within a specified distance of any area where children frequent, such as schools or playgrounds. Special conditions can include being home by a certain time in the evening.

The court system has become similar to a professional sport in a sense that the room is dominated by professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to the mastery of the art of practicing law. It is difficult and frightening for the average citizen to step into the arena of law. Particularly when testifying as a witness under oath. The reason behind this is that when a witness introduces a piece of evidence under oath, it is immediately considered truth and cannot be reversed. People are not perfect, so what happens if one is to forget a minor detail or cannot recall the answer to the question entirely. Can that person be charged with perjury?

An individual can in fact be convicted of perjury by claiming to not remember if certain circumstances are fulfilled. If it can be proven that a witness under oath who claimed to now know the answer does in fact know the answer, but is simply claiming a lapse of memory in order to protect the prosecution, then that person can be charged with perjury.

If a person genuinely does not recall a fact, then it is safe to assume that they cannot be charged with perjury. However, it is important to note here that a person is called to the stand only if a side believes that they have information that will help their case. If they have a reason to believe this, then a good lawyer will do everything in their power to extract that information. Furthermore the cross-examination from the other side will do anything in their power to discredit whatever a witness says. The witness in this case is not a player on the field, in this situation but rather the ball and both sides have already calculated an entire game-plan on how they intend to score. Claiming not to know will only work to slow them down.

The penalty of perjury varies between states, but is considered very serious in all of them. Perjury is categorized as a felony. The penalties that a person could face include: fines, imprisonment up to seven years, or both. Honesty is the best avenue of approach in the court of law. One should never take the stand with intentions of deception, because they are only putting themselves at risk.

When under oath, it is important for a witness to take their time and ensure that the answer they provide is accurate, honest, and correct. As mentioned previously, the pressure of court gets into one?s head. Judges recognize this, and may provide breaks upon request in order to give the witness a chance to catch their breath, clear their thoughts, and reduce the possibility of error so that they case may be carried on. The legal system is not designed to persecute witnesses. Therefore, there are measures in place that are meant to assist the witness with making their testimony. There is absolutely no shame in taking ones time in order to ensure that a testimony is delivered correctly. In fact, it is actually recommended, because a witness only gets one chance to testify. There is no do-over or second chance.

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant. The large majority of cases today end with a plea bargain rather than a jury verdict. Plea bargains usually allow prosecutors to enforce penalties or sentences on someone without have to go through an entire trial. They guarantee prosecution for a crime. Defendants are open to plea bargains because they potentially offer reduced sentences or lesser charges that would not be possible through the courts. Whether a plea bargain is enforceable can be a complex question that has been addressed repeatedly in some case-law. You need to understand several points about the enforcement of plea bargains.

Approval of the Court

The first thing to understand is that although the prosecutor and the defendant reach the terms of a plea bargain together, only judges in the court system are actually allowed to pass a sentence. The prosecutor cannot pass a sentence. The result of this fact is that a plea bargain must be approved and accepted by the court at some point in order to make it binding. Judges are perfectly free to completely disregard any plea bargain even if the prosecutor insists it is an important deal. The reality, however, is that most judges today trust prosecutors and will accept reasonable plea bargains without problems. The plea bargain becomes a binding contract once a court accepts the terms.

Pleas Can Be Withdrawn

The next thing to understand is that there is case-law stating that plea bargains can be withdrawn at nearly any point before the judge accepts the deal. Defendants do not have any rights to a plea bargain under the law. Prosecutors or even judges can withdraw the plea bargain for any reason without any consequences. Pleas can even be withdrawn by a prosecutor just before a judge decides whether to approve the deal. It is important to realize that this does not happen that often. Prosecutors do not normally waste time creating plea bargains only to back out of the deal at the last second. Defendants have the power to withdraw a plea as well if it appears it will not be honored by the court.

Enforceable Plea Bargains

Nearly any plea bargain that was accepted by a judge becomes enforceable. It is seen as a contract under the law. The difference is that plea bargains are looked at more closely and technically than typical business contracts since so much is at stake for both the government and the defendant. A defendant can actually go to court in order to enforce the terms of a plea bargain. Defendants must follow any requirements in the plea bargain in order to keep it valid and active as a contract.

Results of Enforcement

Enforcing a plea bargain through the courts can have two possible outcomes. The most common outcome is that the court will uphold the terms of the plea bargain if a prosecutorial breach can be proven. The terms are then enforced exactly as they were written in the plea. A second less common option is to allow the prosecutor or defendant to withdraw the plea. This action means that the plea bargain no longer exists and is no longer enforceable.

It is a refrain that is familiar to anyone who has been read their Miranda Rights or has watched a certain number of crime dramas: you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. While this right to remain silent has been a cornerstone of the rights of those accused of crimes in the United States for decades, recent court challenges have added extra folds to the way remaining silent may or may not be used against the accused in court. Indeed, this right to remain silent may not be as lock-tight as it might otherwise appear.

What case led to this debate
Though this right to remain silent might be assumed by many to last throughout an entire police investigation, this was clarified by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling based on a case raised against Genovevo Salinas for a homicide that occurred in 1992. Essentially, police began questioning Mr. Salinas prior to reading him his Miranda Rights (which include the right to remain silent) and Mr. Salinas provided answers. However, the defendant also did not answer a question that had to do with a weapon of his that was believed to be connected with this homicide. Prosecutors attempted to use this non-answer by Salinas against him in court, believing it reinforced his guilt. Courts in Texas, where the case was held, agreed that pre-Miranda silence is eligible to be used in a court of law.

The Supreme Courts Ruling
When this case came before the Supreme Court, the assembled justices ruled 5-4 in favor of the prosecutions argument that a suspects silence prior to their being read their Miranda Rights is admissible in a court of law. The argument of these prosecutors which the Supreme Court validated was that because this suspect answered some questions and not others, he implicitly waived his right to remain silent and thus his silence could be used by prosecutors. Justice Alito referred to the right to remain silent as not self-executiing; that is, a suspect must explicitly claim it if they wish for their right to remain silent to be respected.

Future Considerations
Though this case was contentious enough to split the Supreme Court along ideological lines and muster only a 5-4 decision, it does send a strong message about the validity of the right to remain silent and when it may or may not be considered to be in effect. Essentially, a suspects right to remain silent is certainly in effect after the Miranda Rights have been read. However, if these rights have not been read, then the right to remain silent is not implied and a suspect answering police questions may be considered to have implicitly waived the right to remain silent. As far as practical considerations, it means that suspects and defendants must be particularly vigilant about their rights as subjects under investigation and note that silence may sometimes be admissible.

So, a police detective or a government agent came to your house, flashed his badge and asked you if would answer some questions. Or, you came home at night and found a business card that says ?Special Agent Jones? please call me.

If you're reading this, chances are you're a target of some government investigation and you're asking the same question that thousands of others in your place have asked: What do I do?

My advice is NEVER SPEAK WITH THE POLICE OR OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENTS. Here are five reasons why not.

1) IT'S A TRAP

No detective wants to speak to you because they have nothing better to do. Investigators are very busy people with huge caseloads. If they want to talk to you, it means that something has triggered their interest. It means that you are already a target of investigation. You can assume that they've already done their homework and know a lot about you. So, you will ask: why do they need an interview The answer is - to get your confession. They may or may not have hard evidence against you, but if they get your confession, it will be very difficult for you to defend yourself later.

2) IT WON'T HELP

The second reason is that talking to the investigators will not help you at all. No matter how smart you are, no matter how honest you want to be, it won't help. Why? Their job is to investigate crimes and put people in prison. If they've decided to arrest you, they will arrest you regardless, but it?ll be much worse for you and the prospects of your case if you make any statements to them before they arrest you.

3) YOU CAN'T OUTSMART THEM

Let's say you believe you are innocent. You think that just talking to them will help you understand what they have against you. Think again. First, you really don't know what they're after. Second, you never know what could constitute criminal conduct? There are literally tens of thousands of federal criminal laws on the books. Things you didn't even know were crimes, could send you to jail if you're found guilty. Imagine playing poker with someone who can see all your cards but you can't see theirs. Imagine stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson. You are dealing with professional interrogators who have interrogated thousands of people just like. They know much more about you than you about them. After talking to them for a few hours, do you think you won't say anything that will incriminate you?

4) SELLING CHEAP

Reason four. If somebody wants to buy something they really want and only you have, you would sell it to them for a good price. If you have information they want, don't you think it would be better for you to sell it so you get something in return? Your NYC criminal lawyer can negotiate a better deal for you if there is something to trade with the prosecutors. This could involve anything from immunity to settling for a smaller fine, a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony or less time in jail. But what is left to trade if you give up all you have without getting anything in return?

DOES IT EVER HELP?

There is only one way a target should ever speak with investigators and that's on advice from his or her attorney. See, an investigator's job is just to collect the evidence and give it to the prosecutor. They don't call the shots, the prosecutor does. In some investigations, especially in federal cases, speaking with the government may be a lifesaver but...you should never try to negotiate your own terms. Your lawyer will arrange for a special meeting with the prosecutor for that. The prosecutor and you will sign an agreement that will guarantee that your statements won't be used against you in court. We call this a proffer. Proffers are not always advisable, but it the only time it is relatively safe for you to speak with the government and only your attorney can determine whether it's the best thing to do in your particular case.

If you are under investigation, call our New York City criminal lawyers today at (212) 577 6677 to set up an immediate consultation.

No one wants to get arrested and, face it, some people are just going to be in danger of arrest more than others. If you are stopped by a police officer, the advice of experienced professionals is to do anything you required to prevent it.

According to Dale Carson is a defense attorney in Jacksonville, Florida and author of the book, "Arrest Proof Yourself," you should cry, explain how it will adversely affect your relationship with your spouse, your boss, whatever. Throw your dignity out the window. The advice even extends to soiling yourself so they won't want to put you in their car.

Of course, you can get arrested in a private home, yours included. The chances of that happening, however, are quite slim. Unless you and your party are loud and obnoxious, police will probably not have any way to learn of your activities and profiling opportunities are nil.

In keeping with this theme, don't stand out in public. If an officer is looking to up his arrest statistics this week, he will normally be looking for easy pickings. Dressing or acting obnoxiously, while perhaps technically legal, will attract attention you don't want. Watch what kind of car you drive, how you dress, etc. The best advice is to be Clark Kent, not Superman.

If you are in the habit of just dumping your prescription drugs in a baggie and sticking it in your purse or pocket, you are asking for trouble. If you are stopped and the officer searches your person or car (to which you should never, ever submit to voluntarily), it is going to look like they were handed out by a street pharmacist.

Make sure, if you bring prescription drugs with you, that they are in the original containers with your name on the label and that you have valid ID with you. If you are getting in a friend's car, look for paraphernalia, loose pills or leftover bits of marijuana. If you find them, get out and find another ride. If pulled over, you are all in for a ride to the slammer before a judge (might) sort out the next day.

Pay All Violations, Tickets, Fines, Bad Checks Immediately

These are probably most people's quickest route to court and/or jail. Do whatever you need to do (legally) to pay them before your time is up. Never, no matter what, miss a court date. A warrant will be sworn, and executed, immediately.

Borrow from friends, relatives, a payday loan place, whatever. Ask for $5 or $10 from each. Do anything, but pay those tickets, etc. right away.