When faced with criminal charges,
many potential clients have questions they’d like to ask prior to meeting with
a lawyer. We have included answers to a number of frequently asked questions
below. If you have any other questions, please contact the Law Firm of Stewart Orden.
Do I Need
Should I Go
with the Public Defender?
How Do I Pick
How Can I Be
Charged When There Is No Evidence Against Me?
Does It Matter
That I Have Never Been In Trouble Before?
Since I’ve been
Charged, Am I Going to Jail?
How Can My
Child Be Charged with Rape of Child When He Himself is a Child?!
Will this go on
Do I need an attorney?
Yes, when you are facing criminal
charges, a protection order, a CPS investigation, or educational disciplinary
proceeding then your good name, future opportunities, employment or career and
liberty may be at stake. You do need an attorney. Why? Because the
things you could lose are some of the most important things in your life.
That is nerve wracking and frightening. In that emotional state, you are
already at a disadvantage in terms of taking care of yourself and your
Or, you might think that there is no
evidence and the judge or prosecutor will see that and side with you.
Don’t assume your opinion of the evidence and the court system is accurate.
Since you’re probably not one who has been through this numerous times, you
probably don’t know the ins and outs and strategies and rules that would be
most successful. And an experienced attorney does. You need an attorney with a cool
and objective perspective who knows the people, the rules, the courts, the
possibilities and has the skills to stand by you and protect you in an
intimidating court system.
Go with the Public Defender?
Maybe. If you don’t have sufficient funds to pay for
counsel, then yes, you should go with the public defender. If you have
the funds to pay for counsel, then you should retain counsel. You will receive
more frequent attention and greater resources will be applied to your case. And
you can hand pick your attorney vs. having a randomly assigned attorney, of
unknown skill and commitment to you or your case, appointed to you.
How Do I
Pick An Attorney?
Look to experience, client reviews,
the attorney’s communication style and fees. Do you trust this person and
understand him/her when they talk to you about what’s going on with your
case and your life. First and foremost, you want someone with good
communication. Chances are if the attorney has good communication skills
with you, they will have the same with the prosecutor, judge and jury. Experience
is key too. Number of years in practice means the
attorney has seen and handled hundreds if not thousands of cases with
similarities to yours. Common sense tells you that with each case, the
attorney gains more knowledge and becomes better.
How Can I Be Charged When There Is
No Evidence Against Me?
If there is truly no evidence, then
you won’t be charged or the charges should be able to be dismissed with some
basic competent advocacy. But often times what a person who is unfamiliar with
the system thinks is evidence is much different from what is accepted as
evidence in court. Obvious evidence is photos, witness bystanders,
tangible items, etc.. But evidence is also the word of
just one person – even one person who is of questionable background or
character. People can be charged based on the word of one person alone.
And, even scarier, is that people can be charged even if the only witness is
recanting (i.e, withdrawing or disputing allegations
that the accused committed a crime). But, if you are in the unfortunate
position of facing charges, be thankful that the evidence consists of the word
of only one person – that’s less evidence to discredit which may well mean a
greater chance of success!
Matter That I Have Never Been In Trouble Before?
As a general rule of thumb, this
matters less the more serious the offense. If you are charged with a
serious felony, adult or juvenile, the prosecutor is far more concerned with
community protection and punishment. In less serious offenses, like
misdemeanors, it can help you to obtain more lenient treatment from the court
or prosecutor. In the domestic violence arena, if you are arrested or charged
with domestic violence, the police will question the alleged victim about prior
uncharged incidents and this can influence a prosecutor in how hard they
prosecute. But the bottom line is it is much better to have never been in
trouble before than to have been in trouble.
been Charged, Am I Going to Jail?
Not necessarily and not if I can
help it. All criminal offenses are jailable
offenses; that’s the hallmark of a criminal case – a person’s liberty can be
taken away. But it’s reasonable in most juvenile offenses and misdemeanor
offenses, to avoid jail. Felonies are more challenging. However, it’s
absolutely a premature assumption to conclude that just because you’ve been
charged, jail is in your future.
How Can My
Child Be Charged with Rape of Child When He Himself is a Child?
But the simple, and
unfortunate, answer is in how the law is written. Our criminal laws can
applied to children over the age of 12, and sometimes younger. The age
of consent in new York is 17. That means anyone who has sexual
relations with a person under the age of 17 can be accused of a sexual
crime whether there is consent or not.
go on my record?
If you have already been charged in
court or if a protection order has been filed, then there is already a record.
A record is a document or database that contains information. Some
records are private, most are public. Court records, including some juvenile
offense court records are public.
This information is readily viewed
on a public court website. So yes, court proceedings, criminal or civil
result in the creation of a public record. It is more about WHAT
goes on that record rather than whether a record exists at all. If there
is a court proceeding already a matter of record, it is best that the
record ends in a favorable way to you – not guilty, charge dismissed, petition
dismissed, case diverted, etc.