FIRST.  The Arrest.

All New York criminal cases begin with an arrest. A police or other law enforcement officer may arrest a person when he or she has a reasonable suspicion that the suspect has committed a criminal offense.  The arrest can result in one or more charges falling under the following broad categories: a Sex Crime; a Drug Possession or other Drug-Related Crime; a DWI offense; Domestic Violence; a White Collar Crime; an Assault; a Robbery; a Burglary; a Gun Crime; or Murder.

There are two methods of making an arrest. First, the police may physically arrest you and take you back to the precinct. Second, the suspect may surrender voluntarily - usually the police calls the suspect and requests that he/she come down to the precinct. Although the police often claim that they just want to question you, the likelihood of your being arrested once you show up at the precinct is very high.

SECOND.   Transfer To Central Booking.

Unless they issue a DAT (Desk Appearance Ticket), the police will transport the criminal defendant to Central Booking where fingerprints and photographs are recorded.  The police "run" this information to determine whether the arrestee has a prior criminal history. Based on the arrest paper work generated by the police, the Office of the District Attorney makes a determination as to whether the criminal charge(s) contained in the arrest paper work should be raised or reduced and whether or not the facts warrant additional criminal charges.  Once the D.A. has completed the paper work and the arrestee has been processed, the defendant is "Court Ready" and is taken to Criminal Court for the Arraignment.

THIRD.  Criminal Court Arraignment.

At the arraignment the criminal defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer (public defender or private). The defendant is informed in open court of the crime(s) that the District Attorney is bringing against him/her and of the right to enter a plea of not guilty.

After hearing arguments from the lawyers on both sides, the arraignment judge will either (a) require bail, i.e., that a bond in a set amount be posted in exchange for the release of the defendant; or (b) release the defendant on his own recognizance ("ROR"), i.e, without the need to post a bond; or c) remand the defendant in custody until bail is posted or until the conclusion of the case.

At the conclusion of the arraignment, the judge sets a new court date.

FOURTH.  Grand Jury Action.

When the defendant returns to court for a Felony case, the case is sent to a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury consists of 16-23 persons who determine whether a crime has been committed and if the defendant was involved in the commission of the crime. The grand jury process does not determine guilt or innocence; it simply makes a finding of whether or not there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

FIFTH .  Arraignment On The Indictment.

If the Grand Jury votes an Indictment, the defendant is arraigned on the Indictment, this time in Supreme Court.

SIXTH.  Motion Schedule.

Whether the case is a Felony or Misdemeanor, the judge sets a Motion Schedule. Typically, a motion is a written application by the defendant's attorney for an order addressing certain legal issues that may affect the defense mounted at trial. One common example is where, after the arrest, the defendant was not given a Miranda Warning ("you have the right to remain silent . . .") but law enforcement personnel  obtain a statement from him anyway.  The defense lawyer will file a motion asking the court to hold a hearing ("Huntley Hearing") with a view to suppressing (excluding from the trial) the statement.  

SEVENTH.  Trial Of The Issues.

If the District Attorney does not make a plea offer that is acceptable to the defendant, the next step is a trial. A trial may be either by jury or by a judge sitting alone (bench trial). In either case, the District Attorney has the same legal burden: to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden never shifts from the D.A., regardless of whether the defendant elects to testify.

EIGHTH.  Sentencing.

If the defendant is found guilty after trial or pleads guilty after a plea bargain, the Judge imposes a sentence in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law. The sentence may consist of one or more of the following: jail time ("incarceration"), a fine, probation, community service, treatment programs in drug cases, or a conditional discharge.

NINTH.  Appeal.

After sentencing, the defendant and his attorney will decide whether there are any "appealable issues", such as legally erroneous rulings by the judge or the harshness of the sentence. A Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days after sentencing.

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