Arraignment in New York Criminal CourtsWritten by Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
www.appellate-brief.com The “arraignment” process involves: - Being brought before a Judge in courtroom - Receiving “ criminal complaint” with crimes charged and factual basis to each charge - The District Attorney requesting bail or releasing you on your own recognizance (called "ROR") - Pleading guilty or not guilty The process starts when court officer brings you from cell in back of courtroom and into courtroom before Judge. If you were unable to contact your family, friends or an attorney when you were arrested then most likely court will have a Legal Aid attorney appear for you. Legal Aid attorneys are in courtroom at all times to defend poor, and most times to appear for unrepresented. Usually there will be about three attorneys from District Attorney’s office in courtroom. One of them will read charges against you and request court to impose bail at a certain amount or no bail. If no bail is demanded by District Attorney then you will hear word "ROR", which means "return on your own recognizance". Bail is determined according to crime and your personal information. At arraignment District Attorney will have your personal information obtained from their computer searches on you. They call this your “ rap sheet”. It will include information about you, such as: - Any Prior convictions - Any arrests at anytime - Any pleas to prior arrests - Parole - Probation If your rap sheet is clear of any crimes and this is your first arrest, chances are good that there will be no bail set against you. But even if your rap sheet is clear, if crime you’re charged with is serious (such as involving a large amount of stolen money or violence), bail can be set against you. There are different factors affecting setting of bail against you, and all are considered by judge in a matter of minutes. If District Attorney requests bail, your attorney should argue that: - You’re not a flight risk
How to Talk to the Police if Your Suspected of a CrimeWritten by Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
If you’re suspected of a crime, police can come to your house or work or find you on street to talk to you. Usually it will be a detective in plain clothes in an unmarked car who will want to talk to you. You might find a card from detective under your door, or a message on your phone from him asking you to call. You always have right to remain silent, as anything you say to a police detective will be used against you in court. You also have right to be represented by an attorney when talking with police. Just because a detective comes around looking for you doesn’t mean you have to speak to him or see him at police precinct. If detective is at your door, you don’t have to open it for him unless he has a warrant. If a detective is knocking at your door, you don’t have to answer. You can wait until he leaves if you want and then of course call your attorney. Usually, a detective will hound you to come into precinct headquarters to "talk". But once you set foot into precinct, detective will have you at his mercy, where he can use different routines - such as "good cop/bad cop" - or violate your rights just enough to be "legal" to get you to talk. Maybe he’ll take your backpack from you or other property you came in with like your cell phone, then direct you to wait for him, leaving you alone in a room for what could feel like a lifetime. He may even ask you to write your version of story down and then use that against you later. The police are experts trained in gaining your trust and confidence. They know what to say and what tone to use with you. They will lie and misinform you to get information they want. They can tell you they have witnesses when they do not or say they will lower charges when they will not. The police most likely will not read you your rights because they want to create an informal, relaxed appearance so you will spill beans voluntarily.
Good Cop, Bad Cop If you’re not talking then detectives may use "good cop/bad cop" routine. The first cop sits alone with you in a small room and talks about "crime". If he’s not getting information he wants to hear to nail you, then you may find yourself standing at fingerprint machine with another more sensitive cop. Once you’re at fingerprint machine you can be sure you’re being charged despite fact that no one explained anything to you, read you your rights or told you what you’re being charged with. Part of game is to keep you disoriented and guessing your situation. If you hear new cop say "just tell detective what he wants to hear and you’ll get out of here faster on a lesser charge” then you are being "played" and you definitely need to keep quiet. Don't say something just because you think it will get you out faster, because you're already in there and you're going to go through arrest process no matter what. When police tell you consequences of a crime they intend to charge you with, or that they can lower charge, don’t believe anything they say. They can and will lie to you to get you to talk so they can make an arrest. The police are not your attorney, they are not your friends-- they are there to make an arrest. The only way to protect yourself is to remain silent at all times. Enforce your right by consistently and politely stating "I am remaining silent until I have counsel." The police can not interrogate you once you invoke that right, although they will try to interrogate you. They also can’t interrogate you unless they first read you your rights.