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The New York Felony Process

The New York legislature is in charge of devising the states criminal code. Part of this code is the New York felony process.

If you have been accused of committing a felony in New York, you will want to study up on New York criminal law to understand your options. For further assistance, criminal lawyers in New York can represent you to help you either stay out of jail or reduce your sentence.

New York Felony Basics

According to New York criminal law, there are two main categories of crimes: Felonies and misdemeanors.

A misdemeanor is a lesser crime against the state. These infractions usually entail shorter jail sentences, specifically less than a year, and smaller fines. Examples of misdemeanors in New York include:

  • Public intoxication
  • Speeding
  • Simple assault
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism

A felony is a more serious crime against the state, and usually entails sentences of a year or more in prison and large fines. Examples of New York felonies include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Burglary

The Arrest

If you are accused of a felony, the first step in the New York felony process is the arrest.

The arrest may come after an investigation or a search. A search does not necessarily require a warrant. A warrant is prior legal authorization to conduct a search or make an arrest due to the presence of a strong belief that someone has contributed to a crime.

For example, if you are arrested in a vehicle, a police officer can search most of your vehicle without the need for a search warrant. If the officer wishes to search all parts of the vehicle, such as a locked glove compartment, he or she will need probable cause, which is a reason to believe you are highly likely to have contributed to a crime.

Once you are placed under arrest, you will be able to exercise the rights provided to you by the U.S. Constitution. These rights include the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions while you are in police custody. You also will have the right to an attorney.

The Arraignment

The next step in the New York felony process is the arraignment. The arraignment is when the criminal charges filed against you are read in open court. It is at this time that you must enter your plea.

Prior to the arraignment, you should already have an attorney. You and your attorney will be able to go over the facts of your case and devise a case strategy. This strategy will help inform about how to plead during your arraignment. If you cannot afford an attorney, you will be provided one known as a public defender.

You have several options for your plea:

  • Guilty plea: This means that you do not dispute the facts presented in court that you committed the crime.
  • Not guilty plea: This means that you dispute the facts that you committed the crime.
  • No contest plea: You refrain from admitting guilt, but you do not dispute the charges. This plea is usually used if you anticipate a civil trial against you over the same matter.
  • Mute plea: You make no plea, and the court enters a plea of not guilty. This is used when you do not want to admit to the correctness of the previous proceedings, including your arrest. This allows you to question these proceedings as part of your defense.

The Trial

If you did not plead guilty during the arraignment, then the next part of the New York felony process is the trial. Under New York law, if you are accused of a felony, your trial will take place within six months of the arraignment.

You and your attorney may want to try to work out a plea agreement with the prosecution. A plea agreement is when you negotiate down your charges in exchange for a guilty plea. If you do strike an agreement before the trial, then you will be able to avoid much of the process.

If, however, no agreement is made, you will face a trial by jury. If the jury finds you guilty, you will have 30 days after your sentencing to file an appeal.