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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23164
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was recently arrested in Buffalo for harassment and trespass

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I was recently arrested in Buffalo for harassment and trespass by the police that took me from the HSBC arena where I was watching the hockey game. Security told me it was for being seen with a flask as they escorted me out. I have a court date for Monday Jan 3rd. Do I need to hire a lawyer, or are they just handing out a fine? I am from Ontario and am not familiar with American laws at all. Please help!

Thank you.

I am a NYS Criminal lawyer.

Harassment and Trespass can both be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a violation. If they charge it as or reduce it to a violation, (which is very likely) it would be considered something less than an actual crime -- the criminal court equivalent of a traffic ticket. However, it would appear on your criminal history, even if you could get rid of it with a fine (which is also likely).

So to ward against having a blot on your record, you should have a criminal lawyer with you when you show up for your arraignment on these charges. And he may be able to get this matter adjourned in contemplation of dismissal (a conditional dismissal that would not involve a guilty plea and which would allow this case to be immediately sealed, or to find some other means to get this off of your record.

Your worst case scenario, if you were simply rowdy in a sport's arena and nobody was injured, is probably, as I've said, an offer from the DA of a violation and a fine, which you could likely accept and plead to on your first court appearance and not have to return. But you may be able to do better than that. And as these matters can also be charged as misdemeanors and without seeing the Criminal Court complaint, I can't tell with any accuracy whether the DA will want to go forward with misdemeanors rather than reducing these charges, you need a lawyer.

If you don't know where to start looking, you can get a referral for a one time consultation with a NYS criminal lawyer by contacting the New York STate Bar Association's Lawyer Referral service. They prescreen their lawyer and for $35 (last I looked, anyhow) they will find you a local member of the NYS Criminal Bar in good professional standing. The price includes a half hour consultation, and you don't need to hire the lawyer if you don't wish it.

Good luck!

Edited by FranL on 1/1/2011 at 11:01 PM EST
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi FranL

Thanks for taking the time to help me out. very much appreaciated! my concern is that it is past business hours for the lawyer referral service, and my court date is this Monday. I will be leaving my house around 4:00am to reach the court house on time, so i don't see any chance for me to get in touch with them.. is there any chance they have lawyers already there that i could hire? Or a number for after hours?


Also i am curious what a XXXXX XXXXXke that would do to my record.. would something like that prevent me from crossing borders in the future?



I am not aware of an after hours number. It would be on the website if there were one. However, if you get to court early, when you get to the courtroom you will see a lot of lawyers coming in and out and talking with their clients or sitting around in the hallway.waiting for clients. You can talk to any one of them and ask about representation, and in fact, it's done all of the time. I'd advise you to watch a couple of them at work if you can as they stand on their cases, and select one who impresses you, since you're otherwise flying blind.

Another way to do it is to look for the public defenders. They can't represent you if you're not indigent and appointed by the judge, and they're really not supposed to refer you to private lawyers. But if you asked them to point out someone who might be good for your case, many will tell you anyway. Or you could point out a private lawyer and just ask whether they think he would be okay for a harrassment/trespass matter. Frankly, these are not charges for which you'd need a Perry Mason, but it's always better to have a good lawyer than a bad one.

Worst case scenario -- you have no lawyer. You are asked how you plead and you say "Not guilty." (You must do that to keep your rights open). Then you tell the judge that because of the holiday you did not have enough time to find yourself a lawyer and ask him for an adjournment so that you can retain counsel. And/or, if the DA makes you an offer when you're before the judge, you can ask for an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. (That's a dismissal that seals automatically but could reopen if you get in any further legal difficulty within 6 months). It might be something the DA would grant you on a first offense for something silly that happened at a sports event. Again, I can't tell how likely that would be without seeing the court complaint, but an ACD and a fine would be your best case scenario short of taking the case to trial and getting an outright dismissal.

If the DA agreed to it, your case would be over and you would not have to come before a judge again (though you would have to pay the fine).

Since an ACD is a dismissal and not a conviction, it should not cause you a problem getting in and out of Canada. Harrassment and trespass as criminal violations would involve taking a plea and ending up with a conviction. But you would be guilty of an infraction only, which is something less than a crime. In these crazy times that may cause you to be questioned at the border, but it should be no impediment to traveling in and out of the US.

Edited by FranL on 1/1/2011 at 11:39 PM EST
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.