Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

Frequently Asked Questions (Criminal Defense)

1) Is Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer Really Worth It?

If you have been charged with a crime, it is very likely to change the future course of your entire life. If you are convicted of many criminal charges, you can, and very likely will, go to jail, but even if you don’t go to jail, other very serious penalties are involved.

For instance, those who are placed on probation have their lives restricted in a very significant way and may also have to pay rather large fines, although that’s the least of your problems. The most important thing is, if you are convicted of a criminal charge, you will have a criminal record forever, and this is the information age; every time that you apply for a job, or school, or for any type of license, you will have to answer yes to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” You can’t lie about it because the answer is easy to find out these days.

So, if you go into a criminal case you should know that if you lose, or the case is not handled properly, it will affect you for the rest of your life. And if you try to represent yourself or use a public defender, you are unlikely to have the best chance of avoiding jail, a criminal record, or the other penalties you face. Therefore, any money you might save will be far outweighed by everything that can happen to you in a criminal case.

2) Which Is Best; A Public Defender, Private Lawyer Or Defending Yourself?

Representing yourself is a no-brainer; no one should ever try to defend themselves in a criminal case unless they are already a tough criminal attorney who knows that field inside and out, although even then it’s a bad idea, since they’re not really in a position to be objective.

You need somebody who knows the practice of law and how the court system operates, to give you every possible advantage. Many people don’t get to choose between a public defender and a private attorney; many have to use the public defender because they can’t afford legal fees. Most would be surprised at how little it costs to hire a criminal lawyer in terms of importance, but many people can’t.

In fact, most people arrested are represented by the public defender, who paid by the state; the same people who are prosecuting you, and who are overloaded with cases, and who have a mandate to move cases through the system as quickly as possible. They also tend to be relatively inexperienced players who, frankly, get experience the same way an intern does in a hospital.

Contrast that with a highly experienced lawyer who limits the number of cases he handles; that lawyer will be able to give your case the attention and expertise it needs and, more importantly, the expertise that it needs. By all means, if you have a choice, exercise it and find yourself the best lawyer you can who suits your needs.

3) The Cops Didn’t Read Me My Miranda Rights. Can My Case Be Dismissed?

Nearly everyone who comes into my office tells me the police didn’t read them their rights. However, when I ask them if they made a statement, many of them say they didn’t, which leads me to tell them, if they said nothing, it doesn’t matter whether they read you your Miranda rights or not, since there are no statements to have thrown out. Miranda requires that you be advised of your rights, and that any statement made can’t be used against you; it’s generally not an important issue in criminal cases.

Routinely, police have a Miranda form, and whether they read it to you or not, they will always claim they did, and usually they will have you initial the different questions, anyway. While it does come up, Miranda issues are nowhere near as important as they were at one time. To avoid any issue of Miranda rights, the cardinal rule is, since you are not required to say anything, don’t try and help yourself by attempting to explain anything to the officer.

4) How Do I Get To Hear “Not Guilty” Or “Case Dismissed” In My Criminal Case?

That depends on the particular case; the attorney has to know and learn your case backward and forward; he has to know the witnesses and has to be able to effectively represent you. That doesn’t mean you’ll always get a ‘not guilty’ decision in a case; there are many cases where that’s not possible and the attorney has to know how to distinguish those cases from the others.

Many cases are won in preliminary hearings, on issues like suppressing evidence and identifications, but if a case goes to trial, the attorney has to know how to effectively conduct a trial, including effectively cross examining witnesses. They have to know which issues are important issues, if there is evidence that he can present and how to do so, and finally, how to put everything together and convince the jury that you are not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a difficult thing to do but a good lawyer in the right case can get you a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

5) Searched Without A Warrant? Stop The Police From Railroading You.

Sometimes, a police officer attempts to either search or arrest you without a warrant; he or she may come up to you on the street or in your car, and if they tell you that you must submit to a search, you have to comply, because resisting can only get you into more trouble. All you can do is to make clear that you are not consenting to this search; that you are allowing it only because he is ordering you to allow that.

In other situations, you have a lot more power, and that is when an officer wants to come into your home. No one, including a spouse or other family members, has to allow an officer to come into your home without a warrant, to either search or arrest you. Without a warrant, they cannot come in to the house.

Search warrants are more common, but if the officer wants to come in to arrest you, you do not have to let them in, and unless they show a warrant, do not. I also advise clients to not come to the door, because if you come near the door, they will pull you out of the house. Don’t go near the opening of the door and if there are other people there, let them talk to the police. If police come into your house without a warrant, anything they find will likely be suppressed, so don’t let them in.

Contact our firm to learn more about by calling The Law Office of Martin D. Kane, at (718) 793-5700.

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