The Process of Indictment

Interviewer: What does it mean to be indicted?

Martin Kane: An indictment simply means that charges against you have been presented to a grand jury and the grand jury found sufficient evidence to hold you over for trial in the Supreme Court (New York’s higher trial court) on felony charges.

That’s what the book says, but there are important issues unique to Queens criminal practice that only an experienced Queens criminal lawyer is likely to know. In Queens, unlike any of the other boroughs, there are absolutely no plea negotiations following indictment. This is because the Queens District Attorney follows an iron-clad rule that, if a favorable plea is not negotiated prior to indictment, the DA will not consent to ANY plea other than to the entire indictment, as charged. Moreover, the DA’s plea policy requires that a defendant continue to consent to all adjournments requested by the DA prior to indictment, even if the defendant would otherwise be released from jail as a matter of law.

This sets up many pitfalls for the unwary lawyer who is not an experienced Queens criminal lawyer. Common sense may tell the out-of-county lawyer not to consent to these continued adjournments, only to cause his client grave harm. He can also cause his client to remain in jail unnecessarily by not recognizing when it is inappropriate to consent. It is important to also recognize that, once a defendant is indicted, he can be subject to very harsh mandatory jail sentences. Being indicted or even being under threat of indictment puts a defendant at grave risk and the rules of engagement in Queens County are very different than anywhere else. We have entered several cases where a non-Queens criminal lawyer has unknowingly placed the client in a very untenable position because that lawyer was unfamiliar with the subtleties of Queens criminal practice.

The Courts Have Held That The Police Can Lie To You In Order To Induce An Incriminating Statement Or Secure Evidence

Interviewer: Are police allowed to lie to you? Are you allowed to lie to police?

Martin Kane: In almost all situations, the courts have held that the police can lie to you in order to induce an incriminating statement or secure other evidence. Their promise to get the DA to go easy on you is meaningless and never honored. My previous advice holds. Never speak to law enforcement officials without your attorney present. It is sometimes very helpful for an accused to cooperate, but only with a written agreement and commitment from the DA and only with the advice and counsel of your attorney.

On the other hand, you should never lie to the police. As stated above, you should not even be talking to them under almost any circumstance. If you are eventually charged, the fact that you lied could be used as evidence against you. Don’t speak to them without an attorney. Ever. In some situations, lying to law enforcement can be a crime in itself. For instance, lying to a Federal Officer is a federal crime.

Contact The Law Office of Martin D. Kane at (718) 793-5700 to learn more about the indictment process.

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