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Criminal Law

There are two main categories of laws in the United States which are meant to punish an individual for their wrongdoing or to compensate a victim of a bad act, called criminal law and civil law. Civil laws handle behaviors which cause an injury to an individual or a private party using lawsuits.

The consequences for a party who is found liable for civil wrongs are typically monetary. However, there may also be other court-ordered remedies, including injunctions or restraining orders.

On the other hand, criminal laws are intended to handle behaviors which are considered offenses against the public, society, or the state, even if the victim of the crime is not an individual. A defendant who is convicted of a crime may be ordered to serve time in jail or prison or may be required to pay criminal fines. 

Criminal Procedure

Criminal procedure is the legal process for adjudicating a claim that an individual has violated a criminal law. It is important to note that a defendant is presumed to be innocent until they are proven guilty.

Criminal procedure includes many aspects of criminal law, including:

  • Stop, detention, and arrest;
  • Search and seizure;
  • Booking and filing charges;
  • Suspect or eyewitness lineup Identifications;
  • Appointment of counsel, or assigning a court-appointed lawyer;
  • Plea bargaining;
  • Criminal evidence;
  • Trial;
  • Criminal sentencing;
  • Appeal; and
  • Probation and parole.

Criminal Defense

An individual who has been accused of committing a crime is referred to as the defendant. As previously noted, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If there is a defense which justifies or excuses the defendant's criminal behavior, their charges may be reduced or they may avoid a conviction.

What Types of Criminal Defenses May be Available?

There are several categories of criminal defenses which may be available to a defendant in their case, including:

  • Self-defense;
  • Duress or necessity;
  • Insanity;
  • Intoxication;
  • Alibi;
  • Entrapment; and
  • Mistake.


The law will generally allow a defendant to present a self-defense justification if:

  • The defendant was not the aggressor;
  • The defendant's reaction was a reasonable response to the threat; and
  • The defendant actually and reasonably believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.

This may be challenging to prove, especially if conflicting witness testimony is presented. If self-defense can be proven, however, it will absolve the defendant of criminal liability.

Duress or Necessity

The majority of states recognize duress and necessity defenses to crimes which were committed under a threat of serious bodily injury or death. For example, if a defendant forces another individual to steal a car by threatening them with a gun to the head, the defendant may plead duress as a defense to the charge of automobile theft.

Necessity, which is also referred to as the lesser harm defense, is fairly uncommon. For example, this defense may be used if the defendant breaks into a mountain cabin to prevent themselves from freezing to death in sub-zero temperatures.

A defendant will have a complete defense if they can show duress or necessity.


A mental disease or defect is typically not a defense. However, if a defendant suffered from a severe mental illness or a defect at the time the offense was committed, an insanity defense may prevent them from serving time in prison.

The theory behind an insanity defense is that the defendant should not be punished because they are not able to form the required intent necessary to be convicted of the offense. Insanity is difficult to prove, however.

This defense requires clear and competent expert testimony of the defendant's mental issues. It is also important to note that individuals who successfully plead insanity are not set free.

Instead, these individuals are sent to medical facilities to be treated and they are not released until their mental status is stabilized. Treatment for mental issues may take longer than the prison sentence the defendant may have received if they were convicted.

In some states, a defendant can plead diminished capacity. This means that there are some mental diseases and defects which do not affect an individual sufficiently enough to make them insane, but the law still recognizes them.

A successful presentation of a diminished capacity defense typically results in lesser punishment or a reduction of the charges, such as from murder to manslaughter.


Intoxication typically does not provide a defendant with a defense to criminal charges, especially when the defendant voluntarily became intoxicated. The law holds individuals responsible for their choice to become intoxicated, even if they would not have committed the offense if they had been sober.

In certain cases, if the defense can show that the influence of drugs or alcohol made the defendant unable to be found guilty of intentionally committing an offense because of their diminished capacity, intoxication may provide justification for a reduced charge. In other situations, intoxication may provide a total defense if a defendant was intoxicated involuntarily.

For example, if a defendant committed an offense as a result of being drugged unknowingly or being forced to consume a large amount of alcohol, they would be considered involuntarily intoxicated.


If an alibi is believed by a jury, it provides a criminal defense as well as evidence of an assertion of actual innocence. Ideally, a defendant's alibi would account for their whereabouts in such a way that it would have been impossible for them to have committed the crime.

At the very least, an alibi can create reasonable doubt regarding the defendant's guilt. For example, if a defendant is charged with a robbery in Missouri but they can prove they were in Texas at the time of the crime, it will likely prevent their conviction.


Law enforcement officers are prohibited from inducing or persuading an individual to commit a criminal offense they had no previous intention to commit. If a defendant can show that their arrest was the result of entrapment, they cannot be convicted of the crime even if they did commit it.

The issue with this type of defense, however, is that it typically depends upon the testimony of the defendant against the testimony of the law enforcement officer. A jury will likely give more weight to the testimony of the law enforcement officer over the testimony of the criminal defendant, especially when the defendant has a history of crime.


There are two types of mistakes in legal cases, a mistake of law and a mistake of fact. With a mistake of law, an individual does not know about or misunderstands a law.

A mistake of law, however, does not justify or excuse criminal behavior. Every individual is responsible for being aware of and abiding by the state and federal laws.

A defendant may be convicted for an action that they were not aware was against the law. A mistake of fact, on the other hand, may serve as an effective defense.

For example, if a defendant accidentally picks up someone else's bag at the airport because they believed it to be their own, they may avoid a conviction of theft if they can show that they took the wrong bag by mistake.

Criminal Defense

A criminal advocate, more commonly known as a criminal defense attorney, is a type of lawyer who specializes in criminal law. Specifically, a criminal defense attorney focuses on protecting the legal rights of their client and making sure that the rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution continue to be upheld as they were intended. 

A criminal defense attorney may be hired by either a single defendant or a group of defendants who have been charged with a crime. These kinds of lawyers help guide their clients through every step of a criminal case as well as through the justice system. In addition, criminal defense attorneys assist in getting their clients' sentences reduced and can put forth requests for alternative sentencing options if such an option is available. 

Criminal charges should be taken very seriously. Many convictions can lead to hefty criminal fines and jail time. Thus, it is important that you handle criminal matters with care and follow the proper procedural requirements. A criminal defense lawyer can help you do just that by informing you about your rights under the law, conducting research to find potential defenses you can raise against your charges, and providing representation in criminal court. 

When someone is charged with a crime, society tends to view them in a negative light, regardless of the outcome of the case. Our criminal defense firm, however, bases its mission on the ideal that each accused person is innocent until proven guilty.  With this principle serving as the foundation of our work, our attorneys work tirelessly to defend clients charged with all criminal matters ranging from minor misdemeanors relating to drug possession to felony charges for homicide.

Regardless of the charges against you, we will work aggressively to defend you in a court of law. We routinely represent clients charged with the following crimes:

  • Violent Crimes
  • Sex Offenses
  • Drug Crimes
  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Homicide
  • Arson

Sex Offenses
Sex crimes are among the most serious criminal offenses and can often result in lengthy jail sentences. In addition to prison time, sex crime convictions carry a social stigma which is often impossible to erase even after you have served your time. If you have been arrested for a sex-related offense, it is essential that you contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney right away. Our law firm has experience defending clients charged with a variety of sex-offenses including, but not limited to, indecent exposure, prostitution, lewd acts in a public place, possession of child pornography, sexual battery, rape and statutory rape.  Our skilled sex crime attorneys will work to ensure your rights are protected and to help maintain your privacy in order to protect you and your loved ones.

Drug Crimes
Being charged with possession or distribution of drugs can often result in harsh penalties.  In certain jurisdictions, even the most minor charge of simple possession may be punishable by a jail sentence or probation. If you've been charged with a drug crime, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Our attorneys will take the time to learn your case inside and out and to devise an aggressive defense strategy.
We will investigate the process by which the evidence was obtained for each charge. In many cases, drugs are found by law enforcement during an illegal search. In these instances, the evidence obtained may not be used against you in a court of law, leading the prosecution to drop the charges. If the evidence in your case was obtained legally, our drug defense lawyers can often negotiate with the prosecution and find alternatives to jail time which may include deferred adjudication or probation.

Violent Crimes 
If you have been arrested for a violent crime, you should contact an attorney immediately.  Crimes which are considered violent in nature include, but are not limited to, assault, battery, homicide, illegal weapon possession, terroristic threats, domestic violence, kidnapping and carjacking.
Our skilled criminal defense counsel is available to meet with you upon your arrest. We can explore your options and in certain cases, reduce the severity of the charges against you. To ensure that no self-incriminating statements are made, we will communicate directly with law enforcement on your behalf and will guide you on the best course of action to take to protect your rights. 

Regardless of the type of crime, our law firm will take the time to learn all about you and the criminal charges you face during the initial consultation.  Our attorneys will assess the strength of the evidence against you and advise you on all of the available options. If necessary, we have the ability to conduct a private investigation, contact witnesses and obtain other useful evidence. Treating you with the utmost respect, our criminal defense law firm will aggressively represent you to reach the best resolution, whether through a plea bargain or trial. 

Why Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

There are many advantages to having a choice over which criminal defense attorney a person can hire. For one, it means that the attorney that a person selects is someone whom they felt comfortable working with and can trust. 

Oftentimes, when a person cannot choose their own attorney and they are assigned one through a service or appointed one by a Public Defender's Office, they might not feel as confident about working with them, which could potentially hurt their case.

Another advantage to choosing a criminal defense attorney is that a person can narrow down the type of lawyer they are looking for, such as the amount of experience they have, how much they are willing to pay for them, their past track record for similar cases, and so forth. In other words, they can be extremely selective in the hiring process.

For instance, a person may want to consider hiring an attorney who is employed by a small law firm that specializes in criminal defense cases, as opposed to hiring one who works at a medium-sized law firm that handles various matters (e.g., family law, trust and estates, etc.). 

This can help to ensure that not only do all of the lawyers at the firm practice criminal law, but also that it is more likely that lawyers at a smaller firm will only have time to focus on a handful of cases.

What Does a Defense Attorney Do in a Criminal Case?

The following is a basic outline of what happens in a criminal case:

    • A person or group of persons commit a crime;
    • Law enforcement is then asked to investigate the crime (or in some cases may bear witness to it);
    • After the police investigate and collect the evidence, they may arrest a person of interest;
    • The police will submit the evidence and any information they have about the suspect to a local district attorney or state prosecutor's office;
    • The district attorney or state prosecutor will decide whether there is enough evidence to charge the suspect, and if there is, they will file a case against them in criminal court; 
    • The suspect will then attend an arraignment hearing where they will either plead guilty or not guilty to the charges;
    • Their plea will trigger the pretrial process (i.e., the stages where both the prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney build their respective cases);
    • If the defendant does not enter into a plea bargain agreement, they will go to trial, which can be held either before both a judge and jury, or just a judge (i.e., a bench trial);
    • Once trial ends, the judge and/or jury will decide the outcome of the case;
    • If the defendant is guilty, then they will need to attend a sentencing hearing where the court will issue a punishment; and
    • Finally, the defendant may file an appeal to try to reverse the decision of the trial court.

Unlike a civil lawsuit, a criminal case is initiated by a government actor. In most criminal cases, this government representative is usually a district attorney or state prosecutor. Prosecutors have the authority to recommend and request that a court impose certain criminal penalties as well as the power to drop the charges or a case. 

Prosecutors do not provide the same legal services as a criminal defense attorney. They are meant to embody the government and to ensure that the laws are being properly enforced. They also serve as a mouthpiece for the victims of a crime. However, victims do not typically receive remedies in criminal court with the exception of restitution. If a victim wants to pursue monetary damages against a defendant, they will need to file a claim in civil court. 

On the other hand, criminal defense attorneys represent defendants. Defendants are individuals or groups of individuals who have been accused of committing a crime. Among many other tasks, a good criminal lawyer will review the facts of a defendant's case, make sure that the police followed the proper procedures to gather evidence, hire expert witnesses to testify on behalf of the defendant, and provide solid representation in court. 

Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?

If you are suspected of committing a crime or have been charged with committing a crime, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can assist you with asserting a defense which is available in your case and will represent you during court appearances. If you are currently facing charges for committing a crime, you should contact a local criminal lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal lawyer can determine whether there are any defenses available that you can raise and can help you devise a legal strategy that has the potential to reduce or drop the charges. Your lawyer can also inform you of your legal rights as a criminal defendant and can make sure that those rights are being protected. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to provide representation either in court or while making a deal for a plea bargain arrangement. Your lawyer can also answer any questions you may have throughout the process. They can offer you legal advice on issues that may arise during your case, which you may need to make important decisions about the case that could impact your personal life.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.