When faced with criminal charges,
many potential clients have questions they’d
like to ask prior to meeting with
a lawyer. We have included answers to a
number of frequently asked questions
below. If you have any other questions,
Firm of Stewart Orden.
with the Public Defender?
Do I Pick
Can I Be
Charged When There Is No Evidence Against
That I Have Never Been In Trouble Before?
Charged, Am I Going to Jail?
Child Be Charged with Rape of Child When
He Himself is a Child?!
this go on
Do I need an attorney?
Yes, when you are facing criminal
charges, a protection order, a CPS
investigation, or educational disciplinary
proceeding then your good name, future
opportunities, employment or career and
liberty may be at stake. You do need an
attorney. Why? Because the
things you could lose are some of the most
important things in your life.
That is nerve wracking and frightening. In
that emotional state, you are
already at a disadvantage in terms of taking
care of yourself and your
Or, you might think that there is
evidence and the judge or prosecutor will
see that and side with you.
Don’t assume your opinion of the evidence
and the court system is accurate.
Since you’re probably not one who has been
through this numerous times, you
probably don’t know the ins and outs and
strategies and rules that would be
most successful. And an experienced attorney
does. You need an attorney with a cool
and objective perspective who knows the
people, the rules, the courts, the
possibilities and has the skills to stand by
you and protect you in an
intimidating court system.
Go with the Public Defender?
Maybe. If you don’t have
sufficient funds to pay for
counsel, then yes, you should go with the
public defender. If you have
the funds to pay for counsel, then you
should retain counsel. You will receive
more frequent attention and greater
resources will be applied to your case. And
you can hand pick your attorney vs. having a
randomly assigned attorney, of
unknown skill and commitment to you or your
case, appointed to you.
How Do I
Pick An Attorney?
Look to experience, client
the attorney’s communication style and fees.
Do you trust this person and
understand him/her when they talk to you
about what’s going on with your
case and your life. First and
foremost, you want someone with good
communication. Chances are if the
attorney has good communication skills
with you, they will have the same with the
prosecutor, judge and jury. Experience
is key too. Number of years in practice
attorney has seen and handled hundreds if
not thousands of cases with
similarities to yours. Common sense
tells you that with each case, the
attorney gains more knowledge and becomes
How Can I Be
Charged When There Is
No Evidence Against Me?
If there is truly no evidence,
you won’t be charged or the charges should
be able to be dismissed with some
basic competent advocacy. But often times
what a person who is unfamiliar with
the system thinks is evidence is much
different from what is accepted as
evidence in court. Obvious evidence is
photos, witness bystanders,
tangible items, etc.. But evidence is also
the word of
just one person – even one person who is of
questionable background or
character. People can be charged based
on the word of one person alone.
And, even scarier, is that people can be
charged even if the only witness is
recanting (i.e, withdrawing or disputing
that the accused committed a crime).
But, if you are in the unfortunate
position of facing charges, be thankful that
the evidence consists of the word
of only one person – that’s less evidence to
discredit which may well mean a
greater chance of success!
Matter That I Have Never Been In Trouble
As a general rule of thumb, this
matters less the more serious the
offense. If you are charged with a
serious felony, adult or juvenile, the
prosecutor is far more concerned with
community protection and punishment.
In less serious offenses, like
misdemeanors, it can help you to obtain more
lenient treatment from the court
or prosecutor. In the domestic violence
arena, if you are arrested or charged
with domestic violence, the police will
question the alleged victim about prior
uncharged incidents and this can influence a
prosecutor in how hard they
prosecute. But the bottom line is it
is much better to have never been in
trouble before than to have been in trouble.
been Charged, Am I Going to Jail?
Not necessarily and not if I can
help it. All criminal offenses are
offenses; that’s the hallmark of a criminal
case – a person’s liberty can be
taken away. But it’s reasonable in
most juvenile offenses and misdemeanor
offenses, to avoid jail. Felonies are more
challenging. However, it’s
absolutely a premature assumption to
conclude that just because you’ve been
charged, jail is in your future.
Child Be Charged with Rape of Child When He
Himself is a Child?
But the simple, and
unfortunate, answer is in how the law is
written. Our criminal laws can
applied to children over the age of 12,
and sometimes younger. The age
of consent in new York is 17. That means
anyone who has sexual
relations with a person under the age of
17 can be accused of a sexual
crime whether there is consent or not.
go on my record?
If you have already been charged
court or if a protection order has been
filed, then there is already a record.
A record is a document or database that
contains information. Some
records are private, most are public.
Court records, including some juvenile
offense court records are public.
information is readily viewed
on a public court website. So yes,
court proceedings, criminal or civil
result in the creation of a public
record. It is more about WHAT
goes on that record rather than whether a
record exists at all. If there
is a court proceeding already a matter of
record, it is best that the
record ends in a favorable way to you –
not guilty, charge dismissed, petition
dismissed, case diverted, etc.