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Things to Know if Charged with a Felony in New York City

A New York felony charge is a serious offense. If you are charged with a felony, you may be facing years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Whether you live in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan or elsewhere in New York City, if charged with a felony you will want to hire a New York criminal lawyer to help you understand all your defense options.

This article will inform you of some of the things you need to know if you are charged with committing a New York felony, including how to find a criminal defense attorney.

What Is a New York Felony?

In general, there are two categories of crimes. Lesser crimes are considered misdemeanors and are usually punishable by less than a year in prison. More serious crimes are called felonies and are punishable by more than a year in prison.

The following are some examples of crimes that are considered felonies under New York felony law:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter

Felonies in New York are separated into subcategories called classes. Classes are lettered from A to E. Class A felonies are considered to be the most serious felonies and entail the highest punishments. Class E felonies are considered the least serious felonies.

The New York Felony Process

The New York felony process begins at the time of your arrest. Once you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer questions from police or investigators. This right is meant to prevent you from incriminating yourself.

You will also retain the right to an attorney. Once you are taken to the station for booking, you will usually be allowed to make a phone call to reach your attorney if you have one.

Several days after your arrest, you will be arraigned in court. The arraignment is when your felony charges are read aloud in court and you get the opportunity to enter your plea. In the New York criminal process, there are several pleas available to you.

If you plead guilty, you are admitting that you committed the felony, and the court will sentence you. If you plead no contest, you are admitting guilt, though you aren't overtly agreeing with the charges. With a no contest plea, you will also be sentenced.

You can also plead not guilty. This means you deny the charges against you. If you plead not guilty, the court will then set a trial date where you will get the opportunity to state your defense. You can also enter a mute plea. This means you enter no plea, though the court will enter a not guilty plea. You then will be free  to question the previous proceedings.

Prior to your trial, you and your attorney may try to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution. A plea agreement is when you agree to plead guilty to lesser charges in order to receive a lighter sentence. For example, if you have been charged with a class C felony, you may be able to enter a plea agreement to have the charge reduced to a class E felony, thus reducing the amount of time you would have to spend in prison.

If you do not enter into a plea agreement, your case will go to trial, and you and your New York criminal defense attorney will have to assert your defense.

Hiring a New York Criminal Lawyer

If you are charged with a felony in New York, you will need to seek out a criminal defense attorney. New York criminal defense attorneys can use their knowledge of the law to assess the facts of your case and come up with a tailored defense strategy. If you are incarcerated, you should have someone you trust investigate potential crimianl defense attorneys on your behalf.

To find a defense lawyer, you may want to start by seeking referrals from friends and family. Another option is to use a website like can connect you to New York criminal lawyers in your area. All you have to do is fill out the brief online questionnaire.

Once you have found some attorneys you may be interested in hiring, you should interview each one to see who is a good fit for you and your case. Questions you should ask when meeting with your prospective attorney include:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Have you ever handled a case like mine?
  • What do you think of my case? What are my options?
  • How do you charge for your services? When do you expect me to pay?
  • If I have a question about my case, whom do I contact? How long should I expect to wait for a response?

Once you have had a chance to speak to several attorneys, you can make an informed hiring decision. Remember that it is important to pick a lawyer you trust. After all, this is the person who will be your advocate in court.