Criminal Law
What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do in New York?

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do in New York?

On Behalf of vitalianolaw | Mar 03, 2022 |

Facing any criminal charge can be a life-changing experience. Whether you made a mistake and broke the law or were wrongfully arrested for a crime you did not commit, facing prosecution can be incredibly daunting and pose long-term problems for the rest of your life. If you are charged with any criminal offense in New York, you must understand the value of legal representation you can trust. The right criminal defense attorney handling your case can dramatically impact the outcome of your case proceedings.

Every American has two fundamental constitutional rights that come into play during an arrest. The first is the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, commonly known as the right to remain silent. When the arresting officer reads your Miranda rights, they will notify you that “you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” Take the arresting officer at their word, even if you feel compelled to argue your case in the event of a wrongful arrest. Saying anything will only work against you. Instead, comply with the police’s directions and remain silent until you have legal counsel on your side.

The second important right that applies in this situation is the right to legal counsel. Every American citizen has the right to an attorney when charged with any crime. The court can provide a public defender free of charge if a defendant is unable or unwilling to pay for a private defense attorney. While a public defender may seem like the ideal way to minimize legal costs in a criminal case, private defense attorneys can provide more personalized and robust defense representation.

What to Expect From Your Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are unsure what to expect regarding your criminal defense representation, it’s essential to understand a defense attorney’s job. In every criminal case, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt rests on the prosecution. This is because the criminal justice system of the United States functions based on “innocent until proven guilty,” and it’s the prosecution’s job to prove guilt.

The criminal defense lawyer’s job is to prevent the prosecution from meeting this burden of proof. Every criminal case is unique, and a criminal defense attorney may employ several strategies on behalf of their client. Some of the ways in which your criminal defense lawyer can help you in your case include:

  • Questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence. The defense lawyer may argue that the evidence presented by the prosecution is faulty, incomplete, or circumstantial. For example, if a defense attorney is representing a client in a DWI case, they may challenge the chemical test results or the credibility of the lab that processed the chemical test.
  • Citing chain of custody issues with material evidence. Police and prosecutors must follow precise rules when handling material evidence in a criminal case. They must also obtain evidence legally. A defense lawyer may claim that specific evidence is inadmissible or that police or prosecutors contaminated or compromised evidence in play.
  • Establishing an alibi for the defendant or presenting contradictory evidence. Remember that the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt; the defendant is not required to prove their innocence. However, a defense lawyer may present evidence that is contradictory to the prosecution’s evidence or provide clear evidence of an alibi that proves the defendant did not commit the offense in question.
  • Exploring alternative or diversionary penalties. It’s possible that a defendant did commit the crime in question but did so due to circumstances beyond their control. For example, if a defendant is arrested on drug charges but they have an addiction, their attorney may argue that a mandatory substance abuse treatment program would be a more suitable punishment than jail.

Ultimately, a good defense attorney must adapt their strategy to suit the specific issues a case presents. If you are accused of any crime in New York, it is essential to consult an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible.


Q: What Is the Goal of a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

A: A good criminal defense attorney will strive to have their client’s case dismissed or acquitted of the charges in question to the best of their ability. If conviction is unavoidable and the prosecution has built an airtight case, the defense attorney should focus on minimizing their client’s penalties as much as the law allows.

Q: What Is the Main Function of a Defense Lawyer?

A: First and foremost, the defense attorney’s primary function is to protect their client’s interests. Depending on the unique details of the case, this may mean challenging the prosecution’s evidence, preventing them from meeting their burden of proof, and having the case dismissed, or it may mean aiming for the least severe penalty possible. In some cases, plea bargaining is the best strategy available, and the right defense attorney can potentially have their client’s penalty decreased significantly.

Q: What Should You Ask When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

A: Before committing to a defense lawyer’s representation, ensure the attorney has adequate experience handling cases like yours. Ask them for their initial interpretation of your legal options and how they expect the case to unfold. You should also clarify their billing policy, ensuring you can afford their legal fees. Finally, trust your instincts and hire a defense lawyer who makes you feel the most confident about your legal situation.

Q: How Long Does a Criminal Case Take to Complete?

A: Some criminal cases unfold quickly, while others involve protracted proceedings that can last for months or even years. The timeframe that a case is likely to follow largely hinges on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and the nature of the charges in question. Relatively minor criminal offenses may only require a few weeks of court proceedings, while more significant murder and organized crime cases can mean years of litigation.

The right criminal defense lawyer on your side can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. Attorney Michael Vitaliano has extensive experience representing New York clients in a wide range of criminal cases, and the Vitaliano Law Firm is ready to apply this experience to your situation. If you are ready to discuss defense representation with an experienced attorney, contact the Vitaliano Law Firm today and schedule your consultation.