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Arrest Process in New York

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Under New York law, a person can be placed “under arrest” whenever the police have reasonable cause that a person committed a crime. At that point, the police have the legal right to restrain someone and charge him or her.

If you have been arrested or are worried you will be arrested, call (212) 577-9328 for a free consultation with our Manhattan criminal defense lawyer. We serve New York’s five boroughs.

Search & Seizure

The first thing that happens when the police make an arrest is they search that person subject to that arrest. While individuals in the United States generally have a right to be free from searches and seizures of their person without a warrant, there is an exception to that right which occurs after a person is lawfully placed under arrest. This is so the police can ensure the suspect does not have a weapon. Usually, when a person is arrested on the street, they will be patted down for weapons near where he or she is arrested. Afterwards, they will be taken via a police car to the precinct where the first part of processing occurs.

Processing

During processing, the property that the person had on him at the time of his arrest is seized and cataloged. The reason for this is because an arrestee does not have the right to take any property with them other than the clothes on their backs. The confiscated items are “vouchered” usually either as “arrest evidence” or as “safekeeping.”

  • Arrest evidence is evidence that the government intends to use against you. For example, if a person is arrested for committing a robbery and he is found with the proceeds of the robbery and the knife used in the robbery, then that evidence is going to be used against him in the prosecution for robbery.
  • Safekeeping -- your keys and wallet, however, are probably not going to be used against you, so that will be vouchered as “safekeeping.” This means an arrestee can get it back the arrest is over.

Questioning & Your Right to Remain Silent

While at the precinct, the police will then take the basic information regarding the arrestee, including name, address, etc. They will also take fingerprints and a “mug shot.” Other than asking this basic pedigree information, however, the police do not have the right to ask questions of the person without giving them their “Miranda Rights.” If they fail to do this, then anything the arrestee says will be suppressed.

Once a person requests a lawyer, the police may no longer question the person about anything other than their basic information. It is important to remember, that a person can and should request a lawyer immediately. At that point, the police may not ask any non-pedigree questions of the arrestee.

The Arraignment

After processing, the police have a duty to make the defendant available for his or her arraignment. An arraignment is the beginning stages of a criminal case against the person. In New York, the arraignment is when the person has the right to have a lawyer present, to have the charges and his rights formally read to him, and to have an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. The police will make a decision as to whether to give the person a “Desk Appearance Ticket” (DAT) or to take the person to court directly for their arraignment.

A DAT, is essentially an order to report to court on a particular date in the future for arraignment. If the police elect not to give a person a DAT, then they have to be arraigned within 24 hours of the arrest. The defendant then awaits their arraignment in Central Booking near the courthouse. While the defendant is in Central Booking, the police will then discuss the facts of the case and the appropriate charges with the District Attorney’s Office.

The Plea Process

If the charge is a misdemeanor, the defendant will be brought before the judge and plead guilty or not guilty. If they plead guilty, the case is over. However, if they plead not guilty, then the court will determine whether bail is appropriate.

For a felony, the person does not enter a plea. Instead, the court simply entertains bail and the case then gets adjourned for “Grand Jury Action.” If the court sets bail and the person cannot make bail, then the District Attorney’s Office must provide non-hearsay evidence to the court within six days that establishes the probable cause for the crime. If they fail to do this, then the person must be released from custody. Once evidence is presented, the case proceeds to motion practice and, eventually, trial.

Don’t Wait to Seek Counsel

Being arrested is a serious and traumatic ordeal in a person’s life. If you or a loved one is placed under arrest, call (212) 577-9328 to arrange a free consultation with our experienced Manhattan criminal defense attorney immediately. Attorney John Buza has handled thousands of cases, and his record of success is astounding. He has had innumerable dismissals, acquittals, and favorable dispositions. Don't hesitate to call.

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