If you are placed under arrest in the state of New York and you are charged with any criminal offense, it is imperative for you to seek sound legal advice and aggressive representation immediately.

Whether you are accused of a serious felony or a less serious misdemeanor – and whether you are in fact guilty or innocent of that crime – you must have an experienced and skilled domestic violence attorney in Peekskill advocating for justice on your behalf.

WHAT ADVICE SHOULD YOU FOLLOW IF YOU’RE CHARGED WITH A CRIME?

If you have been charged with any crime in New York – even a low-level misdemeanor – do not agree to any “deal” or sign any legal document before you’ve consulted with a defense lawyer you can trust.

As everyone knows, when you are placed under arrest, you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Be cooperative with the police if this happens, but exercise your rights and politely decline to answer any questions until your attorney can be present.

When a defendant is convicted of a crime in the state of New York, probation may be among several penalties imposed on the defendant.

But before probation can be formally ordered by the court, a convicted defendant must agree that he or she will adhere to the conditions and terms of the probation, and the offender must sign a statement to that effect.

If you are a defendant facing a criminal prosecution in New York, review any statement or document with your attorney before you sign it.

HOW LONG DOES PROBATION LAST IN NEW YORK? WHAT ARE THE TERMS?

A probation sentence for a felony conviction in New York is typically for five years; for a misdemeanor conviction, probation usually lasts for three years.

If you are sentenced to probation in this state, the terms and conditions will typically include but are not necessarily limited to:

1. getting and keeping a job or attending school
2. avoiding any criminal associates or acquaintances
3. being subject to unwarranted searches and unscheduled drug tests
4. reporting regularly to your probation officer
5. staying compliant with the law and avoiding any new arrest or new criminal charge

HOW ARE VIOLATIONS OF PROBATION HANDLED IN NEW YORK?

Any failure to satisfy the terms and conditions of probation in New York could result in a “VOP,” that is, a violation of probation charge.

If a probation officer believes that a probationer has violated the conditions of probation, the probation officer will “violate” that probationer – that is, the probation officer will report the suspected violation to the court, and a judge will usually issue an arrest warrant.

In other cases, however, a judge may simply issue a summons to appear. Sometimes, a probation officer will make an on-the-spot arrest of a felony probationer and take that person directly to jail.

The probationer will be ordered to appear before a judge for a violation of probation hearing.

If you are the person charged with violating probation, you must be accompanied at a VOP hearing by an experienced Westchester County criminal defense attorney.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN AT A VOP HEARING?

Your defense lawyer may be able to persuade the judge that you did not violate the terms of your probation.

But when the evidence against a probationer is conclusive, and that probationer is convicted of violating probation, the court may:

1. revoke the probation and order the offender to jail or prison
2. restore the offender to probation with the same conditions
3. restore the offender to probation with additional – and more stringent – conditions

If you are on probation in New York, you have already been convicted of a crime, so some of the rules that would normally govern a criminal trial will not apply at a violation of probation hearing.

IF YOU FACE A VOP CHARGE, WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

Probationers facing violation of probation charges in New York have no bail rights and no right to a trial by jury. Some New York judges will set bail in some VOP cases; most judges will not.

Thus, many offenders who face a violation of probation charge in New York end up waiting in jail until the VOP hearing, but a good criminal defense attorney may be able – in some cases – to arrange for bail or to have a probationer released with a promise to appear at the hearing.

If a “preponderance of the evidence” points to a probationer’s guilt at a VOP hearing, that is all the court requires for a conviction. The preponderance of the evidence is basically a 51 percent standard, meaning it’s more likely than not that the defendant is guilty.

In other words, the state can convict you for violating probation without proving the case “beyond a reasonable doubt” – because you have already been proven guilty of the original crime that put you on probation.

HOW IS A VOP HEARING CONDUCTED?

Violation of probation hearings in New York are conducted and decided exclusively by judges.

At a VOP hearing, the state and the defense both present their evidence and arguments.

Witnesses may be examined and cross-examined. The judge considers the evidence and testimony and then renders a verdict based on the preponderance of the evidence.

To convict anyone in this state for a violation of probation, the law in New York says that the probation violation had to be both “willful” and “substantial.”

When a judge determines that a probationer has not, in fact, violated the terms of probation, the probationer will continue to serve out the original probation sentence.

Throughout the state of New York, probationers are supervised by the probation department of each county, but in New York City’s five boroughs, the probation department is under the city government.

HOW CAN A DEFENSE ATTORNEY HELP?

If you are charged with any crime in the state of New York, get the legal help you need at once. That is your right. A good defense lawyer will protect your rights and will fight aggressively to bring your case to its best possible conclusion.

But if the evidence against you is persuasive, and you are convicted of a criminal charge in New York, understand that if you are sentenced to probation, you are fortunate – and you could easily be in jail or prison.

Take full advantage of probation – if that’s the sentence – and avoid any more trouble by adhering strictly to your probation’s terms and conditions.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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