Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

Winning a Case for a Typical Assault Scenario in New York

Interviewer: When someone says, “Winning a case,” what would be considered winning a case in a typical assault scenario?

Martin Kane: That would depend on the case. If somebody was shot and killed and the district attorney has a strong case and I got him five years in jail, I guess that would be winning the case because the penalty was so relatively light for such a serious charge. In most cases, what I consider winning a case is either by going to trial and getting an acquittal or negotiating something that does not result in a defendant either going to jail or having a criminal record, or both. That obviously is a winning case in any circumstance.

A Favorable Outcome In An Assault Case Depends Upon The Seriousness Of The Case

In more serious cases, again, it depends on how serious it is. In every case, what we’re trying to do is get the best possible result for a client. I am not doing a client any favor, say, if he cracked somebody’s skull, causing a fracture and permanent injury and has a long criminal record, if I tell him (unless the circumstances indicate otherwise) that I’m likely to keep him out of jail and keep him from having a criminal record. All I’m doing there is pushing him to not take an appropriate disposition until it’s too late, and forcing him into a trial that will be costly and will result in even more serious punishment. I believe it is the lawyer’s most important job to honestly assess a case and give his true opinion, even if it makes the client unhappy. If there’s good reason to believe we have a chance to win on trial, I’ll tell that to him and, more importantly, I’ll tell him why. If I think he has little or no chance to win, I’ll tell him that also, and why. The final choice of whether or not to accept the best disposition I can work out always belongs to the client — it’s his life on the line. My job is to make sure he or she fully understands the available options.

A Breakdown Of The Judicial Process Following The Initial Arraignment For An Assault Case

Interviewer: After the arraignment happens, if nothing really gets settled there and they wait for an additional hearing, how long does it take before the next hearing occurs?

Martin Kane: First of all, as I said, assault cases are almost never finished at the arraignment; they’re never settled at that point because the complainant is not there, and the district attorney hasn’t spoken to the complainant, so unlike other relatively minor charges, it never happens or almost never happens at arraignment. Generally, what will happen is the case will be adjourned. If the defendant is being released without bail, we really don’t care how long it’s going to be, and it’ll typically be adjourned for three or four weeks so that everybody gets a chance to investigate the case and see where they’re going to go.

In Most Assault Cases People Don’t Have Their Complaint Corroborated By The Complainant At The Time Of The Arrest

If the defendant is going to be held in jail — in other words, if bail is set in an amount that the defendant is not going to make — you want to get the case, in fact you must have the case put on for a short period of time, either five or six days depending on whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor. The reason is because in most assault cases, the people do not have their complaint corroborated by the complainant at the time of the arrest and they have to get that done within a short period of time, again depending on whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, or the defendant must be released without bail at that time.

For A Situation Where The Defendant Is Incarcerated, The Attorney Will Ask For A Shorter Adjournment

If it’s a situation where the defendant is being held, you’ll ask for a shorter adjournment. In Queens County, where the bulk of my practice is, there are other procedures that also take place. Generally if it’s a felony, the district attorney will insist that the defendant waive his right to have it go to a grand jury immediately and the case, on consent, will be put over for two weeks. That’s a very special and specific part of Queens’ practice and there are different reasons for that, which go beyond this conversation. Once the case is adjourned, obviously, you’re going to investigate the case as best you can and after you’ve investigated, then you’re going to want to talk to the district attorney to see if the case can be resolved in a way that we’re satisfied with.

Cases Tend To Linger For Several Court Appearances Before A Final Disposition Is Worked Out.

If it can, on the next court date, we can proceed and follow through. More often than not, it just doesn’t happen that simply. Cases tend to linger for several court appearances before a final disposition is worked out. Usually, what the district attorney is willing to do after the first conference may be very different than what he can be convinced to do at a later time. So, I’m much more interested in getting the best disposition for a client than I am in getting the disposition as fast as possible.

Find out more by contacting The Law Office of Martin D. Kane for a free initial consultation at (718) 793-5700.

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Mr. Kane is extremely knowledgeable about the law. He always took the time to talk with me and explain things about my case from our first phone conversation to my court appearance. I could say that Mr. Kane...

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Mr. Kane is an intelligent and resourceful lawyer. He is knowledgeable and caring. Mr. Kane has helped my family on numerous occasions and I am very grateful. You cannot go wrong with him as your attorney.

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