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S. Huband, Esq.
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1031
Experience:  Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
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Hi I got arrested a few weeks ago in Staten Island New York

Customer Question

Hi I got arrested a few weeks ago in Staten Island New York . I haven't been able to pay my bills and was desperate so I tried stealing for the first time in my life.i was desperate ( I'm in my 40's) and got caught. I tried taking approx 800.00 worth of merchandise. I tried to leave the store, security stopped me and I admitted I was guilty and was sorry and was crying like someone had died. They called the police I was arrested and got a desk appearance ticket because I have/had a clean record. I go to court tomorrow. I'm very nervous which is an understatement. Can you tell me what to do? I cannot afford a lawyer and I do plan on pleading guilty because I did try and steal what was not mine. I am embarressed and beside myself.any advice will be appreciated.the charge is 165.40 Thank you
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.

Q) Can you tell me what to do?

I'm sorry for the situation you've found yourself in. Let's talk about the law, and then discuss the options you have going forward.

165.40 is criminal possession of stolen property in the 5th degree. It's a class A misdemeanor, which has a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail if convicted.

I'm surprised you weren't charged under the petit larceny statute, 155.05. That would probably be easier for the government to prove than possessing stolen merchandise. Petit larceny is still a class A misdemeanor, so there's no change in the potential punishment.

If tomorrow is your first appearance in court for this charge, it is probably your arraignment. An arraignment is where the judge 1) tells you what the charge is against you, 2) MIGHT ask you to enter a plea, and 3) inquires whether or not you want an attorney to be appointed.

Say "not guilty" if you are asked for a plea, even if you BELIEVE you are guilty as sin and you want to plead guilty anyway, and ask for an attorney to be appointed. Assuming you qualify for an appointed attorney, the judge will give you contact information for that person. You will also be given a new court date. That will probably be your trial date.

Contact your attorney well before your next court date. It sounds like you may not have much of a defense, but that's the attorney's job to figure out. Let him or her analyze the facts and give you legal advice as to what to do.

Since you have absolutely no record, you could certainly ask for an ACD. That's an "adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal." Basically, you say to the judge, "I am guilty, I really regret what I did, I've never been in trouble before, I feel like such an idiot, please cut me a break." etc. (Maybe not in those exact words! Surprised)

If the judge agrees, and I think in your situation that's a no-brainer that any judge will agree with your request, then you simply have to stay out of trouble, pay your court costs, pay back any money you might owe for the stuff you (allegedly) stole, etc. You may or may not have another court date in the future.

The brilliant part about an ACD is the end result: the charge is dismissed. This would be a huge win for you, especially if you think you'd be found guilty anyway. You get to keep your clean record and you don't have to go to jail.

Even on the wildly crazy chance the judge does NOT agree to an ACD and you are found guilty, my guess is that you would get a small fine, maybe some community service. I seriously doubt you're going to jail.

I hope my response has been helpful. If you have follow-up questions or concerns on this topic, please ask. Otherwise, please rate my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Doing so will NOT cost you any additional fee.

Take care,
Shuband
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi thank you for your response! Do i ask for an ACD before I say guilty or not guilty ? I'm very confused. I know I am guilty but cannot afford a lawyer or a hefty fine. I know I'm going to be nervous and crying and I don't want to go back to court and I don't want to take any chance being found guilty and going to jail. I'm sorry I'm asking all these ridiculus questions .thanks again
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for the update. Your questions are not ridiculous. It's a GOOD thing that you don't what to expect for court. Otherwise you'd be a career criminal and have a rap sheet longer than you are tall!

Court is DESIGNED to make people nervous. It's not supposed to be a pleasant experience. That way, people say, "Gosh, that was awful. I don't ever want to go to court again!" And they wind up staying out of trouble. Get the picture?

The crime you are charged with carries the possibility of jail time. That means that you should have a lawyer represent you. You are entitled to have one appointed to represent you if you cannot afford an attorney on your own.

Say "not guilty" if the judge asks you for a plea. It doesn't matter whether or not you believe you are guilty or whether or not you wind up eventually pleading guilty anyway. The judge may not appoint an attorney for you if you plead guilty. The judge might just say, "Ok, you are pleading guilty? Sure, I sentence you to ..." and then you've got a conviction on your record and possible jail time.

So, after pleading not guilty, ask for an attorney to be appointed. You'll probably have to fill out some financial forms, too. As far as the attorney's fees, that will be added to your court costs. As long as you make some sort of payment arrangement to pay those court costs, you'll be fine. A lot of people cannot pay ALL the court costs all at once. The attorneys fees will not be as high as if you hired your own attorney.

Talk to your attorney about the ACD and see if that is an option. You don't need to mention it tomorrow in court unless the judge asks whether you want to participate in the ACD program. I suppose you could then just skip all the lawyer stuff and go for it.

I totally understand you don't want to go back to court. Most people feel that way. But, you may have to go back in order to get the best result. Having an attorney has an advantage. That person will probably have appeared in front of this judge a zillion times and can tell you straight up whether or not the judge will go for the type of deal you're proposing. The attorney will know what and when to say certain things to get you the best possible outcome. The attorney will know how to finesse the situation for you.

Last thing: keep it together tomorrow! You'll be fine. There will be a lot of other people there too, similarly scared and confused. Don't sweat it. Go through the process step by step. You'll realize in hindsight that you were all worked up over nothing.

Take care,
Shuband
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1031
Experience: Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
S. Huband, Esq. and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your help.
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
You're very welcome! Best wishes to you in court today!

Shuband
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Hello again! I don't mean to be nosy, but did everything go well in court today? I hope it wasn't nearly as torturous as you thought it might be.

I'm happy to assist you further if needed. Thanks again and best wishes to you.

Shuband
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
His sorry to bother you once again. I did go to court today. A public defender was assigned to me but I feel like I was rushed but maybe she had a lot of people to deal with. She pulled me to the side and asked me if I walked out of the store with the items I Said yes but i gave the store back the merchandise and she told me to plead not guilty.i told her the store made me sign documents which I have no idea what I really signed. She said she would try to get a copy of the documents and camera evidence. i asked her if i could ask the judge for an acd and he said no you wont get it but she didn't give me an explanation why and wouldn't try or let me try she told me as of right now it's a criminal charge misdemeanor A but what she wants to try for is a violation ...( which I know is fines) She told me to stay quiet when we went up to the judge. I heard her say we are not going for what they are saying and the new court date is in November ! She said she would call me. So my drama continues..... Any other advice ? I REALLY APPRECIATE your time& help. Thank you.
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for the update. It's not a bother to ask additional questions; that's what I'm here for!

Feeling rushed is normal for a PD in a busy jurisdiction like the NYC area. Also, your next court date in November is likely your trial date. That's also normal. You just met your attorney yesterday; you haven't had enough time to prepare for trial.

Q) I asked her if I could ask the judge for an ACD and she said no you won't get it but she didn't give me an explanation why and wouldn't try or let me try she told me as of right now it's a criminal charge misdemeanor A but what she wants to try for is a violation...

I'll make a guess about some things, although obviously I do not know exactly what the attorney meant. You need to follow up with her to be sure what she meant. Your PD is in the best position to predict the outcome of court there in NYC.

It could be that the particular judge you have does not agree to ACD's in general. That judge may simply have a general "no ACD for anyone" policy, who knows. As I said in an earlier answer, that's a big advantage to having a lawyer, especially a PD, who practices in front of a particular judge or set of judges all the time: they can often accurately predict what a judge or prosecutor etc. will or will not do.

Along these lines, this could mean that she doesn't want to ask for an ACD, knowing that the judge won't give one to anyone anyway, have the judge blow his stack, get angry, and find you guilty as charged and send you to jail.

Finally, this also could be that when she says she's going to try for a "violation" she means a lesser charge. In other words, if she already knows the judge is not going to agree to an ACD in your (or in anyone's) case, and if it looks like you're going to get convicted of something, she wants to try and get the conviction to be a less serious charge. That may be what she means by a "violation."

Again, I'm guessing a lot here based on what I've done and seen in the past. I'm not an attorney in NY or the NYC area, and I don't have the experience in front of that particular judge like your assigned PD has.

Thus, you should definitely follow up and make an appointment to see her within the next week or two. Schedule an office (not just a phone) appointment if possible. Make sure all your questions are answered. Ask her to explain the procedure of court, what she expects will happen, why, etc.? Take notes if you think you won't remember everything. Ask why she believes an ACD is not a good option, if that's the case, and what are your best options. Tell her your goals, what's most important to you. (Examples of goals: having a trial/your day in court; not spending any time in jail; etc.) When you leave her office, you should feel reasonably confident and know what to expect in court.

Please keep in touch. I'm happy to help you with follow up regarding this question or any other legal matters that come up. Best wishes to you,

Shuband

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