What happens after an arrest in Westchester County, New York?
An arrest is the process where an individual is taken into police custody for the investigation of a crime or to be charged with a crime. In Westchester County, New York each city, town, village and law enforcement agency has slightly different procedures for processing an arrest therefore this blog will address the arrest process in general terms.
As a criminal defense attorney in Westchester County it is important to focus on the exact factual circumstances that led to an arrest as an arrest must be based upon reasonable cause. An arrest without reasonable cause can create various issues for suppression of evidence and motions to dismiss the criminal charge. For the purposes of this blog we will assume the police had reasonable cause to arrest.
After it is determine that an arrest should be made the accused is handcuffed and transported to the local police station, precinct, or state police barracks for further investigation and processing. Upon arrival the accused is transported to a holding cell or simply handcuffed to a bench. The accused can then sit there for hours while the police decide what to do with arrest and charge. Sometimes waiting for hours in intentional to increase the stress level of the accused pending further investigation.
At the police station the officers will usually read the accused their Miranda rights against self- incrimination with the goal that the accused will waive their Miranda rights and agree to speak to the police officers about the criminal investigation. It is always advisable not to speak with any law enforcement without the presence and assistance of a top criminal defense attorney.
In every arrest the police want to talk with an accused with the goal that the accused will make an incriminating statement. For example, after a DWI arrest the police will ask additional questions about how much the motorist had to drink that night and where were they coming from and going to before being pulled over. This is all designed to strengthen the government's case.
Police officers sometimes make wild promises to call the DA's office on your behalf, not file a higher felony charge if you cooperate, talk to the judge on your behalf, state that you will go to jail if you don't cooperate or tell you that they have all the evidence to arrest, so they just need you to confirm what they already know. Unless you are a seasoned criminal defense attorney these tactics usually work because when these questions are posed, you have been sitting for hours, want to go home and the police have you convinced you can clear everything up to avoid an arrest by making a statement.
It is not unheard of that police officers will ask an accused to assist in other arrests or cooperate in other investigations to "work off" the charge.
It is recommended that the only thing an accused should say to law enforcement is "I want a lawyer now"
The Phone Call
An accused should be able to make a phone call to a lawyer, family member or friend. If arrested the accused should always demand to make a phone call for help. If an accused is denied a phone call it is recommend that the accused keep asking every single person they see to make that all important phone call for help.
Pedigree Information, Fingerprint and Photographed
At some point a police officer will ask the accused basic information for their report, such as address, telephone number, etc. An accused will also be fingerprinted and photographed to log the arrest into the Department of Criminal Justice Services database and have a criminal history report (RAP Sheet) generated.
DNA Sample at the Time of Arrest
The United States Supreme Court recently held in Maryland v. King, that it is constitutional for a DNA sample to be collected from an accused after an arrest when the person is charged with a violent crime or burglary and that DNA sample can be processed once the person in question is arraigned or consents. The entire purpose of this DNA collection is to determine criminal history including open warrants. It is a highly controversial new area of law.
DAT, Judge, Bail or No Bail
Depending on the nature of the charge there are four basic options for an accused's release:
- The Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) – This is a document directing an accused to appear in a local criminal court at a designated time to answer the charge(s). If the accused fails to appear an arrest warrant will be issued by the presiding judge.
- Judge – The police officers may bring an accused before a judge. Depending on the jurisdiction the judge may need to be called in as Westchester County does not have court 24 hours a day. An accused may have to wait overnight to see a judge or if court is in session the accused will be brought directly before a judge. The goal is to have the accused brought before a judge as soon as possible. An accused will not have to wait two or three days before seeing a judge even on a weekend or holiday.
- Bail – Police officers can release an accused after demanding a nominal amount of bail or a judge will set bail at a court appearance so the accused to be released if the bail is posted. In Westchester County unless court is in session the accused will appear before a judge with the arresting police officers. In addition, unless the accused has arranged for a criminal defense attorney to be present the only the judge and police officer will be in the courtroom. Sometimes the district attorney's office will be called to offer a bail recommendation.
- No Bail – Depending on the charge an accused may be sent to the Westchester County Jail on "Remand" status or without the right to bail. For example, if an accused has two prior felony convictions and is charged with a felony a local justice court does not have the authority to set bail and the accused must be remanded to the jail until a Westchester County Court Judge can hear a bail application. In addition, if DCJS has not returned a fingerprint RAP sheet and the accused is charged with a felony the court can hold the accused without bail.
In any of the above examples it is important to have a top criminal defense attorney ready to help have an accused released. Bail situations can be complex and to successfully navigate this area of law one should have the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. For example, a skilled criminal defense lawyer will know how to address issues of bail when an accused is on probation, parole or there are other outstanding warrants. These issues must be handled quickly to avoid lengthy incarceration while the case is pending.
Usually the accused is released and it is very important to keep all paperwork from the court and/or police officers and, if not done so already, to hire a criminal defense attorney.
The criminal justice process in Westchester County can be lengthy and can involve multiple court appearances with complex legal issues. Only a top criminal defense attorney can effectively defend the case.
Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP
At the law firm of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our only goal is to protect you and your interests. We are passionate about all of our client's matters and understand that this case, at the moment, is the most important part of your life. We provide a vigorous defense always holding the District Attorney's office to prove their case.
Our attorneys are former prosecutors having served in the Westchester County District Attorney's office and theNew York County District Attorney's office. We understand how the police and prosecution put their case together and we use that knowledge to formulate your best defense.
We always keep our client's informed about the process and the status of their case and remain available for meetings or questions even after hours or on the weekends.
If you or a loved one has been arrested call our office for a FREE initial consultation. We will take the time to discuss you case, your options and how we can help. Call (914) 946-4808 or send us an e-mail.