When Do You Have a Right to an Attorney?

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.

Tragic New York Boating Accident Case Comes to a Close

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”

Suffolk County Judge Reopens Juvenile Drug Treatment Court in Central Islip

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”

New York Orders of Protection

An Order of Protection (OP) is a Court Order mandating an individual to either refrain from certain behaviors against specified individuals, or to stay away from the protected party entirely. The purpose of an OP is to protect the alleged victim from harm. Most often OPs are directed in response to incidents of domestic violence. Multiple courts have jurisdiction to issue OPs, and all orders require the restricted individual to surrender any firearms they may have.

Continue reading “New York Orders of Protection”

Canadian Visitor Dies in Dump Truck Accident

On February 12, 2016, a 48-year-old woman was fatally struck by a dump truck while in a crosswalk in Manhattan.  The woman, who was visiting from Canada, died at the scene from internal injuries.

According to the New York Daily News, the driver will probably not face criminal charges.  The driver of the truck apparently did not see her crossing the street due to a blind spot and did not realize he had struck her until he turned the corner.

Continue reading “Canadian Visitor Dies in Dump Truck Accident”

Use of Drug Sniffing Dogs at Traffic Violation Stops

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court held that there is no expectation of privacy when carrying drugs. Accordingly, the Court determined that the use of drug sniffing dogs during a traffic violation stop did not violate the unwarranted search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment.

Continue reading “Use of Drug Sniffing Dogs at Traffic Violation Stops”

What Happens at an Arraignment?

An arraignment is typically the first proceeding where a defendant is brought before a judge.  The Court must inform the individual of the charge(s) and determine whether bail is appropriate or if the person should be released on their own recognizance.

When deciding bail, the Court considers the defendants ties to the community and whether he will be a flight risk.     Some factors weighed include whether the defendant’s ties to the community, including whether he lives with and visits family, is employed, has a previous criminal history, and whether she has failed to appear at previous scheduled court proceedings.

Continue reading “What Happens at an Arraignment?”

Lawmakers Discuss Reforming New York City Bail Requirements

New York City has been discussing changes to bail requirements for low level offenders. Many non-felony offenders are held in custody due to their inability to post bail. In many cases they are unable to post a low bail of $500. According to statistics provided by Human Rights Watch, nine out of ten defendants in 2008 were unable to post bail set at $1,000 or less.

Continue reading “Lawmakers Discuss Reforming New York City Bail Requirements”

Common Pre-Trial Hearings in a Criminal Case

On the way to trial, many pre-trial motions and hearings may be scheduled. Usually the defense will make an “Omnibus Motion” that will include all the legal motions they will be filing. A date will then be set for the prosecution to answer the motion, as well as a court date. The motions consist of arguments concerning whether certain evidence should be included or excluded at trial. Such evidence may relate to physical evidence, statements, or identification procedures.

Continue reading “Common Pre-Trial Hearings in a Criminal Case”

Criminal Convictions and Employment Opportunities

If you are arrested and charged with a crime, you need an experienced criminal attorney to handle your case to ensure that all aspects of your matter are considered and addressed.

Most people know that criminal convictions can result in jail and probation sentences, but many people are not aware that a criminal conviction can also lead to collateral (secondary) consequences.

Continue reading “Criminal Convictions and Employment Opportunities”