For most people arrested for DWI, it will be their first time in the New York criminal justice system. The process is confusing, frustrating and frightening. After your arrest at the scene of the traffic stop, you will be transported to the local police precinct station for formal charges and arraignment. This is likely to be your first opportunity to call an attorney. If you say you want an attorney, no further legal action will take place until you have been advised by your lawyer.
As soon as you can, call the New York DWI defense attorneys at Katz Lawyers in New York City. We represent people charged with DWI, DWAI and related traffic offenses throughout the state of New York. We will advise you of your rights and make arrangements to be with you through questioning and arraignment.
Bail Hearing And Bail Bonds
It is important to remember that the police arrest does not mean you are guilty of anything. It means the police have reason to believe that you are a threat to public safety and should be taken into custody until the courts can determine whether you should be charged with a crime. The prosecutor has 24 hours to make formal charges or must release you from custody. Being released from custody does not mean that you cannot be arrested and charged during the same criminal investigation. It simply means the prosecutor does not feel the state has enough evidence against you.
After being formally charged with a specific criminal charge, you will be scheduled for a bail hearing. The prosecutor (acting on behalf of the state of New York) will request a specific bail amount, according to how much he or she feels you may be a flight risk prior to your arraignment hearing. Your attorney will argue for a reduced amount or no bail requirement at all. It is important to make sure you have an attorney before your bail hearing. Katz Lawyers will work aggressively to have you released without bail — on your own recognizance.
After the judge determines the bail amount, you will be instructed to purchase a bail bond from a licensed bondsman. The bond is typically 10 percent of the total bail amount set by the judge. The bondsman agrees to cover the full bail in the event you flee and fail to attend your arraignment hearing. Because the bond purchase can be very substantial and non-refundable, it is very important to have a lawyer with the skill and experience to negotiate the lowest possible bail. After you pay the bondsman, it is too late.
Following your bail hearing, your attorney will have the option of preparing for trial or negotiating a plea agreement with the prosecutor. There are two standard types of plea bargains:
- Agreement for a reduced charge — in which you agree to plead guilty to a lesser criminal charge
- Agreement for a reduced sentence — in which you agree to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for a lesser punishment
In all plea bargains, a judge must review and adjudicate the agreement to ensure that the defendant was adequately represented by competent legal counsel and was not pressured unduly to accept the agreement.
You will be scheduled to attend an arraignment hearing, in which you will enter a plea regarding the charges. In New York, your plea options will be either guilty or not guilty. The judge may conduct a brief conversation directly with you to ensure you understand the consequences of your plea and demonstrate that you were not pressured into making a plea against your will. New York state courts do not allow a plea of Nolo Contendere, Latin for no contest. Only rarely allow a person to submit an Alford Plea, pleading guilty to a reduced charge, while aggressively proclaiming his or her innocence to the public. You will be required to attend this hearing.
Pleading guilty does not necessarily mean you will begin your sentence immediately. The judge must review the facts and evidence of the case to determine that a guilty plea is, indeed, appropriate without a trial. If you plead guilty, the judge will set a date for your sentencing hearing, at which time you will begin your sentence.
If You Plead Not Guilty At The Arraignment — The Evidentiary Hearing
Prior to your criminal trial, your attorney and the prosecutor will have the opportunity to present evidence for their case to the presiding judge. At this hearing, your attorney may challenge the prosecutor's evidence and police procedures that may have violated your rights. If the judge agrees with your defense lawyer's arguments, the evidence may be declared illegal and cannot be used against you. It is during this part of the process that the prosecutor often realizes the state's case is not as strong as they initially thought and the case is dismissed by the judge or the charges are dropped or reduced by the prosecutor. You will not be required to attend this hearing.
If You Plead Guilty — The Sentencing Hearing
If you plead guilty at the arraignment, Katz Lawyers will continue to negotiate with the prosecutor right up until your sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the judge will listen to the prosecutor and the defense attorney before determining a sentence. Through skillful negotiations, we are often able to get the prosecution to agree to recommend a sentence with a reduced fine and no jail time for DWI.
If You Plead Not Guilty — Going To Trial
Up until the day of your sentencing hearing or trial, you have the option of working out a plea agreement with the prosecutor. Katz Lawyers makes sure you are kept fully informed throughout the negotiations. You remain in complete control of whether to accept a plea arrangement or to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge or a lesser sentence.
Attorney Seth Katz is an experienced, knowledgeable and effective New York criminal defense attorney with a strong record of successful representation in DWI cases. Your defense case will be well-prepared and clearly presented to the judge and jury.
Call Katz Lawyers For More Information
If you are facing DWI or DWAI charges anywhere in New York, make sure you turn your case over to an experienced attorney. Call Katz Lawyers in Manhattan at 646-835-2330 or Staten Island at 718-876-8105. You may also contact us by email.