If you are accused of committing a crime in New York, you may face a long and complex process that involves multiple stages and actors.
The alleged victim reports the crime to the police, and they investigate it. If you are arrested, you will be taken to a police station for processing. You will be fingerprinted, photographed and searched.
Within 24 hours of your arrest, you will be brought before a judge for arraignment. This is when you will be formally charged with a crime and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge will also decide whether to release you on bail or remand you to custody until trial.
After arraignment, both the prosecution and the defense will exchange information and evidence related to the case. This is called discovery. Discovery may include witness statements, police reports, forensic reports, medical records, etc. The defense may also file motions to suppress or dismiss evidence or charges.
Before trial, the prosecution and the defense may try to negotiate a plea bargain. If you accept a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge or sentence in exchange for avoiding trial or facing more serious charges or penalties. You have the right to accept or reject any plea offer.
If you do not accept a plea bargain or if the judge does not approve it, your case will go to trial. A trial is where the prosecution and the defense present their arguments and evidence to a jury or a judge who will decide your guilt or innocence. You have the right to testify or not testify at trial.
After hearing all the evidence and arguments, the jury or the judge will deliberate and reach a verdict. If you are found guilty, you will be convicted of the crime and face sentencing.
If you are convicted of a crime, the judge will determine your sentence based on numerous factors such as the nature and severity of the crime, your criminal history, your personal circumstances, etc. The sentence may include imprisonment, probation, fines, restitution, community service, etc.
If you are convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal your conviction or sentence to a higher court. An appeal is where you argue that there was an error or violation of your rights during the trial that affected the outcome of your case. You may need an appellate attorney to file an appeal.