Westchester County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being accused of committing any crime in the State of New York is a serious matter. Whether the charges are for a violation-level crime and the defendant has no prior record, or a defendant is now facing a felony allegation after years of trouble with the law, people should treat these accusations with appropriate attention and urgency.
A conviction for even a violation-level charge carries a potential jail term and appears on a person’s criminal background check. For these reasons, if you were accused of any crime, it is important to obtain skilled legal representation to protect your rights.
Westchester County criminal defense lawyers defend those accused in local criminal courts, against all charges ranging from violations to felonies.How Are Allegations Classified in New York?
There are three main categories of criminal activity for which a person may be charged. The least severe category is violation-level charges. These are charges that usually do not involve a person being taken into custody, but still, require them to appear in court and answer the charges.
According to New York Penal Law §10.00, a violation is an offense for which a jail term of no more than 15 days can be given. This specifically excludes traffic violations. Examples of these charges include:
- Unlawful possession of marijuana New York Penal Law §221.05
- Disorderly conduct New York Penal Law §240.20
- Trespassing New York Penal Law §140.05
The medium level of offenses are called misdemeanors. Within this group, there are three subgroups: Class A, Class B, and Unclassified misdemeanors. In general, a misdemeanor is any offense that is punishable by up to one year in jail or up to three years of probation.Additionally, a maximum fine of $1,000 may be levied. Class B misdemeanors lower the maximum penalties to up to three months in jail and a fine of no more than $500. Unclassified misdemeanors are all other crimes for which a minimum jail term of no less than 15 days is possible, but the maximum cannot exceed one year.
Examples of misdemeanors include:
- Assault in the third degree New York Penal Law §120.00
- Sexual misconduct New York Penal Law §130.20
- Petit larceny New York Penal Law §155.25
The most serious allegations are called felonies. Serious allegations are any allegations for which a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed. However, just because a person is convicted of a felony does not necessarily mean they must go to prison. But a conviction for the most serious crimes carries a life sentence. Just as with misdemeanors, there are different classes of felonies depending upon their severity. These range from the most serious A-1 felonies, to the least serious, E felonies.
Prominent examples of felonies include:
- Criminal mischief in the third-degree Class E Felony New York Penal Law §145.05
- Forgery in the first-degree Class C Felony New York Penal Law §170.15
- Operating as a major trafficker Class A-1 Felony New York Penal Law §220.77
A skilled Westchester County criminal defense lawyer can attempt to mitigate the penalties that an individual may face.Contacting a Westchester County Criminal Defense Attorney
From the moment a person is arrested, it is critical they take steps to defend themselves. Every statement they make may be recorded by the police and officers use multiple techniques to convince people to talk. Even in the first court hearing, important issues such as bail and pre-trial conditions are decided. It is imperative that people obtain legal representation to fight for their rights.
Westchester County criminal defense lawyers can work to defend a person’s freedom. A capable attorney could for lower bail amounts, ensure that evidence is properly handled, and present a defense to a jury. A criminal defense attorney aims to give those facing criminal charges the best chance for a positive outcome. Every moment in a criminal case is vital, which is why you should contact a lawyer today.