The right to an attorney is enshrined in the United States Constitution as one of the fundamental rights that every American has by birthright. After all, how can someone defend themselves in court if they aren’t given access to legal expertise, which they are unlikely to have themselves? But things are more complicated than they first appear, because there are two slightly different rights to an attorney, and the distinction can be important.
The right to an attorney is guaranteed by two Constitutional Amendments in the Bill of Rights: The Fifth Amendment, and the Sixth Amendment. Though both Amendments guarantee your right to an attorney, they have a couple of important distinctions between them. First is the difference in timing: the 5th Amendment right to counsel guarantees your right to a lawyer while you’re being interrogated in police custody; the 6th Amendment right to counsel, on the other hand, guarantees your right to counsel during the critical parts of a criminal prosecution.
However, there’s another, more significant difference: the 6th Amendment requires the court to appoint you a lawyer if you can’t afford one at the time of your arraignment (when you’re formally charged with a crime). The 5th Amendment requires police to allow you access to a lawyer, if you already have one, but they aren’t required to provide you with one, because an arrest doesn’t necessarily signal the beginning of a criminal prosecution. Thus, you can be in a situation where you are legally entitled to have an attorney, but you aren’t yet legally entitled to have one appointed to you by the court. And if you’re being interrogated by the police, it can be very helpful to have an attorney present to advise you on your rights.
Those who have been charged with a crime can face serious legal consequences. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.
When you’re accused of a crime, it can be tempting to say that you’ll fight the charges against you. Indeed, on the surface, it’s not immediately clear why someone wouldn’t fight criminal charges with every fiber of your being. And yet, an estimated 95% of criminal charges result in plea deals, ending the legal process before it ever gets to trial. Understanding why people plead out so often can help you if you ever find yourself accused of committing a crime. Continue reading “To Plead, or to Go to Trial: The Costs and Benefits of Fighting a Criminal Charge”
As the weather heats up, more New Yorkers are taking their boats out onto the open seas. Although boating is a fun activity to engage in, it is important to recognize that it can also be extremely dangerous if certain precautions are not taken. Boat accidents may occur for various reasons, including boating under the influence, negligent speeding, or a manufacturers defect, among others. Recently, a New York man was convicted of manslaughter in a horrific boating accident that occurred on Lake George and resulted in the death of an 8-year-old girl and other serious injuries.
Continue reading “Tragic New York Boating Accident Case Comes to a Close”
On January 26, 2017, a Suffolk County judge announced the reopening of the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court in Central Islip. Several years ago, many had deemed the drug treatment courts for juveniles to be a success. However, due to lack of state funding, these drug treatment courts became obsolete in Suffolk County, while drug treatment courts for adults remained. The goal of the juvenile drug treatment court is to reduce substance abuse and non-violent behaviors among the youth who have become involved in the family court system.
Continue reading “Suffolk County Judge Reopens Juvenile Drug Treatment Court in Central Islip”
As Americans, we owe a tremendous debt to our veterans for our liberty and safety. We need to keep in mind that many veterans returning home from combat relive the devastating effects of war each day, and many suffer major psychological illnesses.
One in four veterans returns from the warfront with mental illness such as PTSD, addiction, and depression. Half of these vets are left untreated and often find themselves in conflict with the law. In New York State alone, it is estimated that there are at least 27,000 veterans who suffer from mental illness.
Continue reading “Bill Would Provide New Procedures for Veterans in the Criminal Justice System”
New York remains one of only two states that have not yet increased the age of criminal responsibility to 18. However, a new bill backed by Mayor DeBlasio and New York City top law enforcement officials could change that. The proposed “Raise the Age” legislation, if passed, would cease treating 16 and 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system.
Opponents to the bill have expressed that they are concerned that the bill sends the wrong message and the crime will increase. They point out that “some of the most heinous crimes are committed by 16 and 17 year olds.” In New York in 2014, out of 30,286 crimes committed by 16 and 17 year olds, 22,200 were misdemeanors and 4,160 were non-violent felonies.
Continue reading ““Raise the Age” Bill Would Stop Treatment of 16 and 17 Year Olds as Adults in the Justice System”