What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

In criminal law, most crimes are divided into one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. There are some major differences between the two types of crimes, both in terms of time served and the impact they could have on a convict’s life. So what is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, and why does it matter? Continue reading “What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?”

What are NY’s Collateral Consequences and How Might They Affect Me?

Just about anyone who knows about criminal law knows that if you are convicted of a crime or plead to a crime, you will generally be punished in one of three ways: incarceration in a jail or prison, probation, or payment of a fine. Sometimes, you may be assigned community service, forced to attend a rehabilitation clinic, or you may be given another, more peculiar punishment. However, there are other potential consequences to a criminal conviction, known as collateral consequences, that you should be aware of before you take a plea deal. Continue reading “What are NY’s Collateral Consequences and How Might They Affect Me?”

Prevalence of Face Masks Confounds Facial Recognition Technology

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, wearing a face covering in public was limited to a handful of circumstances, such as protecting against cold weather or wearing a mask on Halloween. At most other times, wearing a face mask would raise suspicion, often associated with criminals attempting to conceal their identity from cameras. However, the coronavirus has made face masks a common sight, confounding facial recognition technology intended to catch criminals from camera footage. Continue reading “Prevalence of Face Masks Confounds Facial Recognition Technology”

NYC to Release 300 Nonviolent Offenders Due to Coronavirus Fears

Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York City has said he will release approximately 300 inmates currently incarcerated at Rikers Island for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, in response to the coronavirus. The coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s minds now, and this is particularly true of the prison system, where inmates and staff alike are at high risk of exposure to the contagion. However, it isn’t entirely clear how many of these inmates can legally be released, due to complications with state and federal law. Continue reading “NYC to Release 300 Nonviolent Offenders Due to Coronavirus Fears”

Criminal Penalties for Breaking Quarantine

In late March, President Trump publicly floated the idea of quarantining New York, as well as parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. While the quarantine was ultimately not implemented, with the White House instead issuing a travel advisory for those three states, it made some people fear what might happen if one or more states were, in fact, quarantined. For example, what happens to people who break an officially imposed quarantine? Continue reading “Criminal Penalties for Breaking Quarantine”

DWI Convictions and their Potential Consequences

Being arrested on a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge can be a life-changing event, even before you face the possibility of a plea or conviction at trial. Aside from facing the risk of imprisonment or fines, there are numerous possible consequences that can arise as a result of a DWI conviction. And if you’re facing down a DWI charge, it’s important to know what will happen if you plead guilty or get convicted at trial. Continue reading “DWI Convictions and their Potential Consequences”

What is the Miranda Warning?

If you have ever watched a law enforcement-based program on TV, like Law and Order or NCIS, chances are you’ve heard of the Miranda warning, and Miranda rights. You may even be able to recite them from memory. But why is it so important for police officers to tell suspects their Miranda rights, and what happens if an arresting officer fails to do so? Continue reading “What is the Miranda Warning?”

Explaining the NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law

When a New York State law decriminalizing marijuana went into effect in August, many people wondered what it would mean for ordinary people. There was also concern as to what decriminalization would mean for people arrested for marijuana violations previously. Well, here’s a basic rundown of what you need to know about this new law, and its implications for the general public. Continue reading “Explaining the NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law”

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions

It doesn’t take a genius to know that if you are convicted of a crime, or plead to having committed a crime, you’ll be punished with jail or prison time, probation, fines, or some combination of the above. However, there’s more to crime and punishment than just that, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself suffering from the collateral consequences of your punishment without realizing it. Continue reading “Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions”

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 & Bennett at (631) 348-1702.