This Handbook is designed
to help you understand how the criminal justice system works
in New York State, from arrest through appeal. All bold
terms in the following sections are defined in the Glossary.
This Handbook is not a substitute for a lawyer.
YOUR CASE BEGINS
You were arrested because a police officer had reason to believe that you
had committed a felony, misdemeanor, or violation. If you are charged
with a felony, the officer must
file a felony complaint in the Criminal Court. If you are charged
with a misdemeanor, the officer
must file a misdemeanor complaint in the Criminal Court. If you
are charged with a violation, you may not have been arrested,
but a police officer may have brought you to a police station
to give you a desk appearance ticket
(D.A.T.). A D.A.T. requires
you to appear in court at the date, time, and courthouse
written on it.
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If you were not given a D.A.T.,
you are held in jail and brought before a judge in Criminal
Court, usually within twenty-four hours of your arrest. Before seeing a judge, you are brought to Central
Booking where your fingerprints and photograph are taken. During this period, a fingerprint
report (rap sheet) is prepared which shows your criminal
history, if you have one.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor consults with the police officer who arrested you. If the prosecutor decides
that there is enough evidence,
he or she will prepare the charge(s) against you. If the prosecutor decides that there is not enough evidence to prove that you committed the crime, you will be released
from jail. You will also be interviewed by a representative
of the Criminal Justice Agency (C.J.A.).
The purpose of this interview is to assist the judge in
deciding whether to: 1) set bail,
2) release you from jail without bail (released on your own recognizance,
or R.O.R.'d), or 3) hold you
in jail without bail (remanded).
Statements made by you may be used against you in later
court proceedings. If bail is
set, it may be paid (posted) at any courthouse during business hours and at the jail
where you are being held at any time.
Once these procedures are
completed, you are brought to court for arraignment,
where you will learn what charges have been brought against you. At the arraignment,
your lawyer and the prosecutor may discuss the possibility of settling your case without
the need of having a trial.
They may negotiate a plea bargain which you may either accept and plead
guilty, or reject and plead not guilty.
You have the right to a lawyer
at the arraignment. You may hire
your own lawyer or, if you do not have enough money to hire
your own lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer from The
Legal Aid Society, the Assigned
Counsel Plan for the City of New York (18-B lawyer), Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn
Defender Services, New York County
Defender Services, Queens Law
Associates, P.C., or the Office
of Paul Battiste, Esq. (Staten Island). In the most
serious homicide cases, a lawyer
from the Capital Defender's Office, or a lawyer specially trained to handle such cases, will
be appointed. All such lawyers are paid by the State. If
you intend to hire your own lawyer, but cannot do so in
time for your arraignment, the
judge will appoint one to represent you, at the State's
expense, for the arraignment only. After that time, the lawyer you hire will represent
you. You may also represent yourself and act as your own
lawyer; however, it is better to have a lawyer represent
you. If you are not content with the lawyer who is representing
you, you may ask the judge to appoint a new lawyer for you
or allow you to hire a new lawyer at your own expense. If
you do not have a good reason for wanting a new lawyer,
the judge will not appoint a new lawyer and may not allow
you to hire a new lawyer.
If you are in jail, the prosecutor will have a chance at the arraignment to ask the judge to keep you in jail (remand)
or order bail. Your lawyer will
be given a chance to reply to the prosecutor's arguments. The judge will then decide your bail conditions. Your bail conditions
may change as your case continues.
If you are released, you
must appear in court every time your case is calendared.
At each court appearance, you will be informed of your next
court date. Your lawyer should inform you if the date is
changed. However, it is your responsibility to know when
and where to appear. You should arrive in court at 9:30
a.m. or at what ever time the judge sets and wait there
for your lawyer to appear. If you do not appear and do not
notify the court or your lawyer, the judge will order a bench warrant for your arrest.
This means that the police will be notified to find you, arrest you, and bring you to
court. If you have posted bail,
it may be forfeited (not returned to you). If the police arrest you and bring you to court, the judge may change
your bail conditions by requiring
that you pay more bail or by remanding you. Once a bench
warrant is ordered, it remains on your fingerprint
report (rap sheet).
In some instances, the judge
may order you to stay away from a witness or victim. This
order is called a temporary order
of protection. If you do not obey the order, you could
be arrested and new charges may
be brought against you for disobeying the order. The judge
may also order stricter bail conditions for disobeying the temporary
order of protection.
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Once you, your lawyer, and
the prosecutor become more familiar
with your case, an attempt to settle (resolve or dispose
of) your case without a trial may be made through plea
bargaining with the prosecutor.
A plea bargain can take a variety
of forms. In one instance, the prosecutor may ask that you plead guilty in exchange for his or her promise to recommend to the judge
that a particular sentence be
imposed. In certain cases, the prosecutor may offer to allow you to plead
guilty to a less serious offense than the one with which
you are charged. Such a plea reduces the range of sentences the judge may impose. The judge is the only one who
can decide what your sentence will be (subject to limits set by law) and all bargains must be approved by the judge. Plea
bargaining may continue up to or even during trial.
If you do not want a trial, you may always plead
guilty to all the charges brought against you whether
or not the prosecutor agrees.
The judge will then decide your sentence.
There are sentence ranges for all offenses. Offenses are arranged in different
categories: felony, misdemeanor,
and violation. Each category
is further divided into classes. A felony is a crime for which you can receive a sentence of imprisonment of more than one year, or a sentence of death for the crime of murder in the first degree. The
classes of felony offenses are: AI, AII, B, C, D, and E
felonies. A misdemeanor is
a crime for which you can receive a jail sentence of one year or less. The classes of misdemeanor offenses are A and B
misdemeanors. Jail sentences for violations may not be greater
than fifteen days.
A non-jail sentence may also be imposed, such as a term of probation (for misdemeanors and certain felonies), or a conditional
discharge, unconditional discharge, restitution, or a fine,
for example. Sometimes, a non-jail sentence may be imposed along with a jail sentence.
In such a case, the probationary sentence is served after the jail sentence.
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Happens AFTER YOUR CRIMINAL COURT ARRAIGNMENT?
If you are charged with a felony and have already been arraigned in Criminal
Court, your case will be sent to a court part where felony cases await the action
of the grand jury. In rare instances,
a hearing upon the felony complaint (preliminary
hearing) may be held to determine whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to hold you in jail while waiting for
the grand jury to hear your case.
If you are charged with a felony and are in jail because
you were remanded or are unable
to post bail, the prosecutor must present evidence in your case to the grand
jury no later than 144 hours (six days) after your arrest.
If the prosecutor does not present
the evidence to the grand jury within this time, you will be released from jail on
your own recognizance (R.O.R.'d) unless the prosecutor can show a judge why the case could not be presented
sooner to the grand jury. If
you are released from jail, this does not mean that your
case has been dismissed. You must still return to court
on any date set by the judge.
If the grand
jury finds that there is enough evidence that you committed a crime, it may file an indictment.
If the grand jury finds that
there is not enough evidence that you committed a crime, you will be released from jail.
If you give up your right to have your case presented to
the grand jury, the prosecutor will file a Superior Court Information
If you are charged with a misdemeanor and cannot post
bail, you will remain in jail for approximately five
days. If the prosecutor fails to provide the court with
certain legal documents in support of the misdemeanor
complaint which was filed by the police officer who
arrested you, a judge will release you on
your own recognizance (R.O.R.'d). Again, this does not
mean that your case is dismissed. You must still return
to court on the date set by the judge.
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are secret and are not open to the public. The grand
jury is made up of sixteen to twenty-three people who
listen to the evidence and decide
whether there is enough evidence to put you on trial for a felony.
If the grand jurors decide that
there is enough evidence, they
vote an indictment.
You have the right to testify before the grand jury. Although
your lawyer may go with you to the proceeding, he or she
must remain silent during your testimony.
Your lawyer may not address the grand
jury or object to the prosecutor's questions. If you want to speak with your lawyer before testifying, you may do so outside the grand jury room.
Any conversation you have with your lawyer inside the grand
jury room must be whispered and must not be heard by
the grand jurors. If you decide
to testify before the grand jury, you will probably be cross-examined by the prosecutor. Any questions
the grand jurors may have for
you will be asked by the prosecutor.
You may also ask that the grand jury hear witnesses willing to testify for you, although you are not allowed to be present in the grand jury room while they testify.
If the grand
jury does not vote an indictment,
you will be released from jail. If the grand
jury votes an indictment,
your case will be transferred from Criminal
Court to Supreme Court for
another arraignment within a
few weeks. This arraignment is
similar to the arraignment in Criminal Court. You will be formally
charged with the crime(s) voted by the grand
jury and contained in the indictment,
and you will plead either guilty or not guilty. The conditions
of your bail may also be reviewed
and plea bargaining may take
place. If you do not plead guilty,
your case will be adjourned to
a calendar part.
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In the calendar part, plea bargaining may take place. In addition, your lawyer will have the chance
to obtain more information (discovery)
about the prosecution's case
against you, and to inspect any physical evidence in the prosecutor's possession.
Your lawyer may also ask the judge if there was enough evidence presented by the prosecutor to the grand jury to allow for
the filing of the indictment.
In order to decide whether there was enough evidence,
the judge will read the transcript of the grand jury proceeding.
If the judge finds that there was not enough evidence showing that you committed the crime(s) charged, the judge
will dismiss the charges in the indictment or reduce the indictment to charge
less serious offenses if the evidence shows that only lesser offenses were committed. In rare
cases, an indictment may be dismissed
in the interest of justice, but only where the judge decides
that the prosecution of your
case would be unjust.
If police officers took property
from you, or if you made a statement to them, or if they
had a witness identify you, your lawyer may file a motion asking that such evidence be suppressed. The judge may order that a suppression hearing
be held. You have a right to be present at the hearing.
There are different kinds
of hearings that may be held,
depending on the kind of motion you make to the judge. At a Mapp hearing,
for example, the judge hears evidence on the issue of whether the police legally seized property
from you. At a Huntley hearing,
the judge hears evidence on the
issue of whether police officers acted legally when and
if you made a statement to them and whether the statement
was voluntarily made. At a Wade hearing,
the judge hears evidence on the
issue of whether police officers used fair methods when
they had witnesses identify you as having committed the
crime. At a Dunaway hearing,
the judge hears evidence on the
issue of whether police officers acted legally in arresting
you. During the suppression hearing, testimony is taken from police
officers and witnesses. Your lawyer will have a chance to cross-examine the prosecution
witnesses, and you will also be given a chance to testify and call witnesses. If the prosecutor does not prove that the officers acted legally,
or if you, through the evidence you present, prove that the police acted illegally, the
judge will suppress the evidence.
If the judge suppresses the evidence, the prosecutor will not be able to introduce the evidence against you
at your trial. If the prosecutor has no other evidence against you and does not intend to appeal the judge's decision,
he or she will most likely file a motion asking the judge to dismiss your case.
The prosecutor must also bring your case to trial within a certain period
of time. Generally, in a non-homicide case, the prosecutor must be
ready to try your case within six months of the filing of
the felony complaint in Criminal
Court, or in the case of a misdemeanor,
within ninety days of the filing of the misdemeanor
complaint in Criminal Court.
If the prosecutor is not ready
to try your case within the six-month period, and the time
for which you were responsible does not reduce the time
below six months if you are charged with a felony,
or ninety days if you are charged with a misdemeanor,
the judge, upon your motion,
must dismiss your case. You may also be entitled to be released
from jail if the prosecutor is not ready to try your case
within certain specified periods of time, although the charges
against you would not be dismissed. If you were responsible
for delays in bringing your case to trial, those periods are not included in the six months,
ninety days, or other periods relating to release.
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Once any pre-trial hearings are finished and you have chosen not to plead
guilty, your case will go to a jury part for trial,
where a judge or a jury will
decide whether or not the prosecutor has proven your guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt. You may waive a jury and be tried before the judge. You may not, however, waive a jury if you are charged with
murder in the first degree, the only crime for which death
is a possible sentence. The trial is a proceeding held in
a public courtroom. You have an absolute right to attend
the trial. However, if you are
disruptive, you may be forced to leave the courtroom when
the jury is present.
A jury trial begins with the
selection of a jury from members
of the county in which you are tried. A jury is chosen from people called to serve the week your trial begins. If you are charged with a felony,
twelve jurors and two or more alternate jurors are chosen.
If you are charged with a class A
misdemeanor, six jurors and
two or more alternate jurors are chosen. Class B misdemeanors and violations are tried before
At the beginning of your trial, a large number of people
(jury panel) will enter the courtroom.
The court clerk will call out the names of these people,
who sit in the jury box. Each
is questioned by the judge, prosecutor,
and your lawyer about whether he or she can be a fair and
impartial juror in your case.
If any juror expresses bias or
a belief that he or she cannot be fair, that person will
be challenged for cause and will
not sit as a juror in your trial. In addition, the prosecutor and you (through your lawyer) may object to having certain of these people sit on the jury even though the person has not expressed any bias
or doubt as to his or her ability to be fair. This is called
a peremptory challenge. The number
of peremptory challenges each
side has depends on the class of offense with which you
are charged. Jurors may not be challenged based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual
Once the required number
of jurors has been approved by
both sides, the jurors are sworn and seated in the jury box. The
judge then explains the trial procedure,
the basic principles of law, and the jurors' duties.
The prosecutor then makes an opening statement to the jury. In the opening
statement, the prosecutor tells the jury how he or she
expects to prove that you committed the crime. Your lawyer
may also make an opening statement to the jury, but is not required
to do so.
Evidence consists of the testimony of
witnesses under sworn oath and exhibits. The questioning of witnesses testifying against you is called direct examination.
Your lawyer will then question those witnesses (cross-examination).
Both parties may ask to have physical evidence introduced (exhibits), as
part of their case.
After the prosecutor has presented the case against you, you may, if you want,
also present a case, called the defense. You have an absolute right to testify or not to testify.
If you choose to testify and
have been convicted of crimes
in the past, the judge may permit the prosecutor to question you in front of the jury as to one or more of
those convictions and/or bad acts. You cannot be forced
to testify. You may also choose
not to testify but to present
witnesses on your behalf. Before you may be found guilty,
the jury must decide whether
or not the prosecutor has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that
you are guilty, whether or not you have presented a defense.
If you present a defense,
the judge may allow the prosecutor to present additional evidence in rebuttal to respond to any evidence you have presented.
If the judge allows rebuttal evidence, your lawyer may then
be allowed to present evidence in response to the prosecutor's rebuttal. This is called surrebuttal.
After the evidence is presented, your lawyer and then the prosecutor will make closing arguments to the jury (the summations), each trying
to persuade the jury to convict you or to acquit you. Following
the summations, the judge will
explain the law to the jury as
it applies to your case (jury charge or jury instructions). The jury will then go to a closed room to deliberate.
The decision of the jury is called a verdict.
If the jury decides that the evidence presented does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
you are guilty, the verdict will be not guilty. If the jury decides that the evidence presented
did prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, the verdict will be guilty. If you are charged with more than one crime,
the jury may find you guilty
of all of them, not guilty of all of them, or guilty of
some and not guilty of the rest.
The verdict of the jury must be unanimous;
that is, all of the jurors must
agree on the verdict. Sometimes,
after much deliberation, the jurors report that they cannot
agree on a verdict. This is
called a hung jury. If that happens,
the judge declares a mistrial and
the prosecutor will then decide
whether or not to seek another trial of your case.
If you are found not guilty
of any of the crimes charged, you have been acquitted of those charges and can never be tried again in State
court for those same charges. If you are in jail and are acquitted of all the charges,
you will be immediately released from jail. If you are found
guilty, you have been convicted and must be sentenced. Your
case will then be adjourned for sentencing.
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Prior to sentencing,
you may make a motion to set
aside the verdict. If the judge
grants the motion, the judge
may then set aside the verdict or
modify it. If the judge sets aside the verdict,
you will be entitled to a dismissal, a reduction of the
charges, or a new trial. These motions are rarely granted.
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If you are convicted, whether after trial, or after pleading
guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge. You, your lawyer, the prosecutor and, in some cases, the victim of your crime, if any, will
all have a chance to be heard by the judge as to your sentence.
If you are convicted of murder
in the first degree, for which death is a possible sentence,
a sentencing proceeding will
then be held before a jury which
will decide whether you should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without
the possibility of parole.
Before sentencing in a case where death is not a possible sentence,
the Department of Probation will prepare a report for the judge (pre-sentence
report) containing information about your background
and the circumstances of the crime. You may be interviewed
by the probation officer preparing
the report. Your cooperation with the Department
of Probation may be a factor in the probation
officer's evaluation of you. Your lawyer and the prosecutor may also prepare pre-sentence memoranda for the judge.
The sentence you receive will depend on a variety of factors, including
your background, the circumstances of the crime, and the
attitude of the victim. The types of sentences include jail or prison terms, probation, conditional discharge, unconditional
discharge, restitution and fines. Upon conviction of murder in the first degree and a determination by a jury
that death is the appropriate sentence, a sentence of death may be imposed. If convicted of certain sex offenses, you may have to register with a
local law enforcement agency.
If you are sentenced to probation, you will be released
from jail and supervised by the Department
of Probation for a period of years. You will have to
obey specific conditions. If you are sentenced to a conditional
discharge, you will be released from jail and you will
not be supervised by the Probation
Department. You will, however, have to obey specific
conditions for a particular period of time. Under certain
circumstances, you may be given a split
sentence, which is a combination of a jail term followed
by a period of probation. Periods
of probation or conditional
discharge are conditional sentences. If you violate
one or more of the conditions imposed, you may be re-sentenced
to a jail or prison term.
If you are sentenced to an unconditional discharge,
you will be released without any conditions. Fines and orders to pay restitution can be imposed either alone or with another sentence.
In addition, you will be required to pay a surcharge and a crime victim's assistance fee.
If you have been convicted previously, you may receive a longer sentence.
You have the right to challenge the prosecutor's attempt to increase your sentence due to your prior conviction if you can show that the prior conviction did not exist or was not legal.
Depending on the circumstances
of your case, if you are convicted of more than one offense, or if you are already serving
another sentence, you may receive concurrent sentences, which means
that the sentences will run
at the same time, or consecutive
sentences, which means they will run one after the other.
If you have been convicted of
several charges, you can be sentenced to a combination of concurrent and consecutive sentences.
If you were thirteen, fourteen,
or fifteen years old when you committed the felony offense, you will be sentenced as a juvenile offender (J.O.).
If you were thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen,
or eighteen years old at the time of the felony offense, you may also be entitled to be treated as a youthful
offender (Y.O.). Thus, when you reach your sixteenth
birthday, you are a youth, not a juvenile. When you reach
your nineteenth birthday, you are an adult and are not a
youth. If you are treated as a youthful
offender, your offense will not appear on your record
and you may receive a lower sentence.
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After you are sentenced, you have a right to appeal your conviction or sentence.
You may appeal your case no matter
what sentence you receive. Your appeal will be decided by a panel
of appellate judges (appeals court) who review the proceedings of the court where you were convicted and sentenced. You have a right
to appeal no matter what crime
you were convicted of, and regardless
of whether you were convicted after trial or by guilty plea.
When you plead guilty, however,
you give up (waive) your right
to appeal some issues. Sometimes,
you may be asked to give up your right to appeal as part of the plea bargain.
Even in this situation, however, you may be entitled to
have the appellate court review
In cases where the death
penalty has been imposed, special appellate rules apply.
You should consult an appellate lawyer in such a case. In
all other cases, notice of your intent to appeal must be filed within thirty days of the date you were sentenced.
The notice must be filed with the clerk of the court and
the prosecutor's office. Your
lawyer must file this notice if you ask him or her to do
so. If your notice is not filed within thirty days from
the date of your sentencing,
you must ask the court for permission to appeal by making a motion for an extension
of time. Such a motion must be
made within one year and thirty days from the date of your sentencing, and you should explain
why your notice was not filed within thirty days.
If you want a lawyer to be
assigned to your appeal because
you do not have money to pay for one, you must ask the court
to appoint one to you.
Your appellate lawyer will
obtain a copy of the transcripts of your case, as well as other necessary court papers and
exhibits, from the court. He or she will prepare the necessary
court papers for the appeal (a brief or a motion) and, if
appropriate, he or she will argue your case orally in the appellate court. Unlike the suppression hearings or the trial,
you will not be brought to the appellate
court when your appeal is
heard. If you have not been sentenced to a prison term, however, you may attend the appellate argument.
If your appeal results in an affirmance, meaning
the appellate court found that
you received a fair trial and there was enough evidence
to prove your guilt a beyond reasonable
doubt, or that your guilty plea was properly taken, you have a limited right to seek
further appeal to the highest
court in New York State, the Court
If the Court
of Appeals decides not to review your case, or if that
court affirms your conviction,
you will have reached the end of the New York State appellate
process. Further proceedings, such as applications to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, are beyond the scope
of this Handbook. You can ask your appellate lawyer about
these proceedings but you do not have the right to a court-appointed
lawyer for these proceedings.
If your conviction is reversed, your case may be
dismissed, you may receive a new trial or hearing, or in some
instances, your guilty plea may be vacated. If your conviction is modified, you may receive a lower sentence,
or the offenses of which you were convicted may be reduced, or both. In addition, the appellate
court may remit the case
to the trial court to conduct a hearing on a specified issue. Once these instructions are followed,
the appellate court will hear
You may ask to be released
from prison while you are waiting for a decision on your appeal. This is called an application
for a stay. If your application
for a stay is granted, you may be released from jail
on bail or on
your own recognizance, depending on all of the circumstances.
You may not make an application for
a stay if you were convicted of a class A felony. Only one application for a stay is permitted
during the appeal, although if
your appeal continues to the Court of Appeals, you then may make another application
for a stay.
In certain circumstances,
even though the charges against you have been dismissed,
the prosecutor may be permitted
to appeal your case. This is
called a People's appeal. If
the People's appeal is successful,
the charges against you may be revived and the case against
you may continue. The prosecutor is absolutely prohibited
from appealing an acquittal.
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Each courtroom is staffed
with personnel. In addition to the judge hearing your case,
there are one or more court clerks, several uniformed court
officers, an official court reporter, and an official court
The court clerk sits at a
desk in the well of the court.
He or she supervises the court personnel and is in charge
of the court's paper work. He or she also swears in witnesses
and calls the cases on the calendar.
The official court reporter
keeps a record of all the court proceedings. He or she records
each and every word that is stated for the record. Upon
request of a party or the judge, the court reporter prepares
a transcript of the proceeding.
The official court interpreter
interprets for the defendant. If a witness does not speak
English, the interpreter will interpret for the court and
If you are in jail, you will
have frequent contact with the uniformed court officers,
whose duties are listed below:
. maintain order in the
. provide court security;
. safeguard all people
in the courtroom;
. transport defendants
from the pens. If a defendant is not being kept on the
same floor as the courtroom, the defendant must be handcuffed
with his or her hands behind the back while being brought
from the pens to the courtroom.
In order for the uniformed
court officers to maintain security and order in the courtroom,
certain rules have been established governing courtroom
behavior for defendants who are in jail. Those defendants
. make sudden movements;
. leave their chairs;
. scream or talk loudly;
. argue with witnesses;
. speak to people in the
audience when the court is in session;
. move except when instructed.
RULES GOVERNING COURTROOM BEHAVIOR
. Courtroom visits for jailed
defendants with members of the audience are a privilege,
not a right, and will be permitted only if a defendant is
cooperative. No touching is permitted.
. Audience members must conduct
themselves in an orderly fashion. They may not yell or threaten
witnesses or comment on testimony.
A decision by the trial jury or judge that a person is not
guilty of an offense.
A postponement of a criminal case.
A decision by an appeals court that upholds the decision
of a lower court.
jurors: extra jurors chosen in case one of the twelve
(or six) jurors become unavailable to serve during the trial.
A request for review by a higher court of proceedings in
a lower court.
judges (Appeals Court): Judges that decide an appeal.
argument: A court proceeding at which an appeal is orally
argued before appellate judges.
for a stay: A request to be released while an appeal
A court proceeding at which a person is informed of the
charges against him or her. There is a day arraignment court
from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and an evening arraignment
court from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., in each borough. In Manhattan,
there is also a "lobster shift" arraignment court,
which is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:00
a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
The act of being taken into custody by the police.
Counsel Plan for the City of New York: A listing of
private lawyers who represent people in criminal cases who
do not have enough money to pay for a lawyer. The government
pays for the services of these lawyers.
Money ordered to be paid to the court in exchange for release
from jail while a criminal case is pending.
warrant: A court order for a person's arrest that is
issued when a person fails to appear in court on a scheduled
a reasonable doubt: The burden of proof that the prosecutor
must meet at trial in proving that a person is guilty of
A written legal argument.
Defenders: Provides legal representation to people who
do not have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
Defender Services: Provides legal representation to
people who do not have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
part: A courtroom where a case is scheduled for further
Setting a date for court action to occur in a case.
Defender's Office: Furnishes lawyers specially trained
to defend individuals accused of homicides for which death
is a possible sentence.
Booking: Police Department office where fingerprints
and photographs are taken after an arrest.
for cause: A motion to excuse a juror from serving on
a jury because he or she could not be fair or for some other
reason allowed by law.
Accusation of an offense.
Verified written accusation by a person.
sentences: Sentences that are served at the same time.
discharge: A sentence allowing for release from jail
without supervision by the Department of Probation, but
which requires compliance with conditions set by the court.
sentences: Sentences that must be served one after another.
A finding of guilt of an offense, following either a guilty
plea or a trial verdict.
of Appeals: The highest court in New York State, located
in Albany, New York.
Court: The court where criminal proceedings begin. Misdemeanor
cases remain in this court.
Justice Agency (C.J.A.): An organization whose employees
interview individuals who have been arrested to find out
about their backgrounds in order to help judges decide whether
to set bail, order release without bail (R.O.R.), or order
confinement in jail while a case is pending.
Questioning of a witness by the lawyer who has not called
A person who has been charged with an offense.
Evidence or arguments presented on behalf of a person accused
of an offense.
A secret meeting at which the jury considers the evidence
presented at trial to decide if a person is guilty of charged
Appearance Ticket ("D.A.T."): A document that
charges a person with a violation. The ticket requires one's
appearance at a specific court at a specified time.
examination: Questioning of a witness by the lawyer
who called that witness.
A process lawyers use to find out information about a case.
Panel: See "Assigned Counsel Plan."
Testimony and exhibits introduced at a hearing or trial.
Physical evidence introduced at a hearing or trial.
An offense which is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment
of more than one year, or a sentence of death for murder
in the first degree.
complaint: The first document filed with the court that
sets out the initial charges in a felony case.
A sentence that requires the payment of money.
Reproductions of unique finger marks, which are used to
report (rap sheet): A summary of a defendant's prior
and/or currently pending arrests and convictions.
jury: A group of citizens who decide if the prosecutor
has enough evidence to pursue felony charges against a person.
A court proceeding where testimony is given, exhibits are
reviewed, and/or legal arguments are made, to help a judge
decide an issue in a case.
An offense involving the killing of one person by another.
jury: A term used to describe a trial jury that cannot
reach a unanimous verdict.
A document that contains the felony (and perhaps also misdemeanor)
charges that were voted by the grand jury.
(jury): A group of citizens who decide at trial if a
defendant is guilty or not guilty of charges.
box: where jury is seated.
charge or jury instructions: Explanation of the
law read by the judge to the jury.
panel: A large number of people from whom the jury is
Offender (J.O.): A person who is sentenced for certain
kinds of felony offenses that were committed when the person
was thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen years old.
Legal Aid Society: A private non-profit organization
that provides legal representation to people who do not
have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
imprisonment without the possibility of parole: Sentence
of imprisonment without the possibility of release.
An offense punishable by up to one year in jail.
complaint: A document filed with the court that sets
out the initial charges in a misdemeanor case.
A decision by a judge to end a trial before a verdict is
A request for a judicial order.
A request to a judge for an order prohibiting or excluding
statement: Argument to the jury or judge made at the
beginning of a trial.
York County Defender Services: Provides legal representation
to people who do not have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
of Paul Battiste, Esq. (Staten Island): Provides legal
representation to people who do not have enough money to
pay for a lawyer.
appeal: An appeal brought by the prosecutor.
challenge: A motion to excuse a juror from serving on
a jury without any reason given.
bargain: An agreement between a defendant, a judge,
and a prosecutor, in which the defendant admits guilt, usually
in exchange for a promise that a particular sentence will
guilty (guilty plea): Where a defendant admits to having
committed a charged offense.
bail: pay bail.
memoranda: Documents prepared by the prosecutor and
the defendant to help the judge determine a sentence.
report: Report prepared by the Department of Probation
containing information to help the judge determine a sentence.
hearing: A hearing upon a felony complaint.
A sentence that does not involve prison, but requires compliance
with certain conditions for a specified period of time under
the supervision of the Department of Probation.
Department of: An agency that prepares a written report
concerning a defendant's background and the circumstances
surrounding the offense. The Department of Probation also
supervises defendants sentenced to probation.
officer: An employee of the Department of Probation
who prepares pre-sentence reports and supervises defendants
placed on probation.
A lawyer who represents the government in criminal cases
(also known as the assistant district attorney or A.D.A.,
the People, or the prosecution).
Law Associates, P.C.: Provides legal representation
to people who do not have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
sheet (fingerprint report): A summary of a defendant's
prior and/or currently pending arrests and convictions.
Evidence or argument made in response to an argument.
or remanded to custody: To be sent to jail.
An order by an appeals court sending a case back to a lower
court for further proceedings.
A sentence that requires the payment of money to a victim.
A decision by an appeals court that rejects the decision
of a lower court.
(release on recognizance): To be released from jail
without bail while a case is pending.
A punishment imposed by a judge following a conviction.
A court proceeding at which a sentence is imposed.
proceeding: Trial before a jury to determine if a sentence
of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole should be imposed.
sentence: A jail sentence followed by a period of probation.
Closing argument made at trial.
Court Information (S.C.I.): A written accusation filed
by the prosecutor containing felony and perhaps also misdemeanor
order: A court order that prohibits the admission of
specific evidence at trial.
Court: The court where cases involving felonies are
A payment of money that is required upon conviction.
The stage of the trial when a party may offer evidence in
response to rebuttal evidence.
oath: A promise to tell the truth.
order of protection: A court order that forbids a person
from contacting or being in the presence of a specific person
for a specified period of time.
(testimony): To speak under oath.
Official record of everything that is said in court.
A court proceeding at which a judge or jury decides whether
a person is guilty or not guilty of the charges against
him or her.
discharge: A sentence which does not require either
any imprisonment or conditions.
To cancel a court order. A vacated court order has no legal
The trial judge or jury's decision as to whether a person
is guilty or not guilty of charged offenses.
An offense punishable by up to fifteen days in jail and/or
To give up a legal right.
The section of the court containing the tables at which
the defendant, prosecutor and lawyers sit.
Offender (Y.O.): A person who is sentenced for an offense
that occurred when the person was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen, or eighteen years old.