Hi Peter, and a happy holiday to you,
Thanks for the kind words. Haven't finished here yet. I was planning a quick crash course in NYS jurisprudence so you would understand what you've got going for and against you. But I'll address your 6 points for now:
1) The NYS criminal justice
system is overtaxed. Want to see revolving door justice at its best? Sit in an arraignment part and spend a day watching the action. It's not unusual that there's no time for you and your assigned counsel to have bonded. He may have also thought that you were his "for arraignment only." As an other than run of the mill Legal Aid client, he likely assumed that you'd retain private counsel after this
2) Not guilty is the only correct plea for an arraignment. It's pretty characteristic of judges here when confronted with a defendant on his first arrest to just say something like, "And your client pleads not guilty, right?" to your lawyer, who says, "Yes, your honor." You have no way of knowing at the time that you're not being railroaded by that move and that, in fact, what both your judge and your lawyer were doing was quickly making sure that you could say nothing at all on the record because, just like they say on television, anything you say in court can be used against you, even what you think won't. 3) It would be nice for your arresting officer to have told you all you were charged with. That he didn't, unfortunately, doesn't invalidate the arrest. In fact, sometimes, when the police report
the incident to the DA, the DA sees other or different charges from what the cops thought, and will adjust the charges accordingly. Police enforce the laws, but they don't study their separate elements, and there are frequently changes between the arrest and the arraignment. 4) Miranda stands only for the proposition that a defendant cannot be questioned about his case post-arrest. Lack of Miranda warnings only applies if the police took post custodial statements about the incident from you. If you made none and/or signed no confession, Miranda is quite simply, inapplicable. If you did make statements, then these can be challenged at a supression hearing, along with the probable cause for the stop of your car. There are exceptions to the Miranda rule,and if your police officer says he never read you your rights (don't count on that) you can bet he'll try to portray any statements of yours as an exception. 5) and 6) See 4.
Quick cut to what your lawyer probably didn't have time to tell you but your next lawyer should: every criminal defendant has two broad choices -- plea or trial
. The problem with a plea is that the best offers are on the table early (expect one at your next court date) and that in order to take it, a defendant is expected to waive the right to challenge the evidence against them. That's because, from the DA point of view, if the prosecutor has to put a lot of time into the preparation of a case, he might as well try it. If the defendant, on the other hand, is willing to save the DA some time and work, they will repay the favor in some way.
The other side of the coin is the trial side. All offers are off the table by the time a trial begins. A DWI carries a maximum of a year in jail, and if a defendant is convicted after trial at least some incarceration and maybe the whole year, depending on what facts are elicited at trial, will be imposed. Your maximum risk is a year in jail.
Lots of defendants feel very pressured to have to make a decision (especially one between two lousy alternatives) before they can even see all of the evidence against them, and I can assure you that you won't like that either. I don't expect, however, that with this type of a case, you'll get a "today only" kind of offer, but your lawyer should tell you if/when that is ever so.
If you want to challenge the stop and search and any statements or other Constitutional violations of your rights, you will have to move the case to trial. Although a lawyer can mount an early argument for dismissal, it's usually not a good idea, unless he's sure that it's going to get granted. That's because unlike the defense, the prosecution in a case has the benefit of full disclosure of the evidence against a defendant, while the best single weapon a defense attorney has at trial is surprise. So putting cards on the table too early on a trial case may serve only to give the DA that much more time to prepare a better case against you.
Your lawyer might be able to get a probable cause hearing for you early. If he tells you that he thinks it's unwise, it's because he doesn't think the court will throw out the stop and the case and that you will have then given too much of your defense away too early.
Suppression hearing in NY typically come right before trial actually starts.
When you go looking for your next lawyer, Legal Aid or otherwise, insist on a sit down so that you can learn what you need most to know in order to assist your counsel. And if he won't do that for that for you, shop for a new one. And, before I forget, make sure you show your lawyer a valid prescription for your drugs. Sign a waiver if necessary for him to be able to talk to your doctor and assure the judge and the court that the drugs found in the case were legally prescribed to you. If you can do that, that count should go away quickly.
If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.
This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your State for specific legal advice.
Edited by FranL on 4/4/2010 at 7:47 PM EST