How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights: NYC

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights: NYC

It’s easy to assume that government agencies and law enforcement officers always operate with a person’s Constitutional rights at the heart of what they do. Unfortunately though, this isn’t always the case. 

While many police and law enforcement officers in NYC work diligently to uphold the constitutional rights of individuals along with New Yorkers’ local laws, there have been many instances where these rights are overlooked or violated. As such, the role of a criminal defense attorney is a crucial one – making sure your rights are protected and upheld during any contact with law enforcement.

In this blog, we’ll take a detailed look at some of the rights that law enforcement officers should be aware of and should respect if you find yourself arrested or under investigation here in New York. We’ll also look at how these rights can be contravened, as well as how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help to make sure your rights are protected.

Understanding Your Rights

To make sure your rights are protected when you’re dealing with police officers and the arrest process, it’s first essential to understand what those rights are.

The Right to Remain Silent

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is there to make sure individuals cannot be compelled to testify against themselves in criminal proceedings.

This is commonly known as the “right to remain silent,” – and this protection ensures that a person can refuse to answer questions from law enforcement or prosecutors that might lead to self-incrimination. This helps to protect the principle that individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Right to an Attorney

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives people the right to legal representation in criminal prosecutions. 

This right is there to make sure that, even if a person cannot afford an attorney, the state will provide one. During interrogations and court proceedings, having this legal counsel is crucial – as lawyers are there to safeguard the accused’s rights and provide essential legal advice – paving the way to a truly fair trial.

Protection from Unlawful Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.

In criminal cases, this means that law enforcement must typically obtain a warrant based on probable cause before conducting a search on a person, their belongings, or their property – ensuring that an individual’s privacy rights are upheld.

Common Violations of Rights

It’s extremely unlikely that any peace officer in New York state will wilfully contravene the rights we’ve laid out here – but it’s not just brazen disregard of the United States Constitution that you have to be aware of during police encounters.

Mistakes can happen, be it due to lack of training, miscommunication, or simply the heat of the moment. What’s more, the gray areas in law enforcement can sometimes lead to unintentional violations. It’s essential to understand these common infringements, so you can be better prepared – and find an experienced lawyer to help you protect your rights.

Unlawful Stops or Arrests

Unlawful stops or arrests occur when law enforcement detains an individual without the necessary legal justification. Reasonable suspicion is needed for brief stops or “frisks,” while a stronger standard, probable cause, is required for arrests. 

If officers act without these foundations, they infringe upon an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, potentially rendering any evidence gathered inadmissible in court.

Coerced Confessions

Coerced confessions arise when law enforcement uses undue pressure, manipulation, or intimidation tactics to obtain an admission of guilt from an individual. These tactics can range from prolonged interrogations to physical or psychological mistreatment.

Such confessions are a problem because they can lead to wrongful convictions, undermining the justice system’s integrity. 

The U.S. Constitution protects against self-incrimination, making it vital for confessions to be voluntary and genuine to be admissible in court.

Improper Evidence Gathering

Improper evidence gathering refers to instances when law enforcement collects evidence without following the mandated legal procedures, such as bypassing the need for a search warrant.

Evidence obtained this way breaches the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches. Consequently, improperly gathered evidence can be deemed inadmissible, potentially causing cases to be dismissed or jeopardizing prosecutions.

Violations like these could change your life

While we’ve discussed how rights violations can lead to the dismissal of court cases, it’s crucial to recognize the broader implications of infringements of your rights. For many, the trauma and pressure of having their rights violated can be so overwhelming that they might feel there’s no other option than to plead guilty – even if innocent – just to end the ordeal.

The consequences of a criminal conviction here in New York can be life-changing – even for a misdemeanor charge. As such, it’s absolutely essential that you do everything you can to make sure your rights are protected and your encounter with law enforcement is done on an even playing field. 

This is where a defense attorney comes into play. An experienced lawyer will support you from the moment of your arrest. Having trustworthy legal counsel beside you ensures that your rights are consistently protected and that you’re making informed decisions at every turn.

How Will a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You To Protect Your Rights?

As you can now see, there are many points throughout even a brief encounter with law enforcement where your rights can be breached. You could be forgiven for assuming that this kind of behavior would stand out – but they can often be fleeting seconds that go completely unregistered by someone unfamiliar with the nuances of New York state law.

When life as you know it is on the line, these momentary lapses in due process can be pivotal – so it pays to have a comprehensive understanding of legal statutes, case precedents, and procedural nuances on your side.

Take a closer look at how the right New York criminal defense attorney can make sure your rights are protected:

Protection in Interrogations

During police interrogations, the stakes are high. A seemingly innocuous statement could inadvertently implicate someone or be misconstrued by law enforcement. 

Having a criminal defense attorney present ensures that an individual’s rights are not infringed upon and that they are protected from potential intimidation or manipulation tactics. An attorney will advise their client before answering any questions, ensuring that the client doesn’t inadvertently harm their own case. 

The presence of a defense lawyer not only offers a layer of protection – but can also help in shaping the narrative in the client’s favor from the outset.

Challenging Evidence

The validity of evidence is often the very foundation of criminal cases. A good defense attorney will meticulously review the evidence presented by the prosecution, looking for inconsistencies, irregularities, or any indication that it might have been improperly obtained. 

Through motions to suppress or other legal maneuvers, attorneys can challenge the admissibility of evidence – potentially weakening the prosecution’s case or even leading to its dismissal. 

This thorough scrutiny ensures that the rights of the accused are upheld and that the evidence presented in court is both relevant and lawfully acquired.

Negotiating Plea Deals

Not every criminal case ends in a trial. Often, through strategic negotiations, attorneys can secure plea deals for their clients, which might involve reduced charges or lesser sentences. 

Leveraging their understanding of the legal landscape, defense attorneys negotiate with prosecutors, highlighting weaknesses in their case or offering mitigating factors in their client’s favor. 

A successful plea deal can significantly reduce the consequences for the accused, potentially turning a potential prison sentence into probation, or a felony charge into a misdemeanor or better.  It’s a testament to an attorney’s skill and knowledge, ensuring the best possible outcome for their client.

A Summary: Protecting Your Rights in NYC

If you’ve become entangled with the law in any way – whether you’ve been arrested or think arrest could be looming – it’s absolutely essential that you have experienced legal support on your side. 

Even small mistakes, oversights, or a lack of training on behalf of an arresting or investigating officer can be the difference between your future with a criminal record or walking away with your liberty intact. 

This is where we step in. As experienced New York criminal defenders, we understand every law, every precedent, and every procedure that’s relevant to your situation. When you’re facing criminal charges in New York, it’s easy to feel like the system is there to work for law enforcement – but that’s not how the U.S. justice system works. Until proven otherwise, you’re innocent, and The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman will make sure your rights are protected throughout.