You Haven’t Been Arrested . . . Yet

You haven’t been arrested, but the police have “brought you in for questioning” or you are aware that they “want to talk to you.” What do you do? Shut up and get a lawyer.

Whenever you have any dealings with the police, you should be represented by a lawyer. If the police are looking for you, want to talk to you, want to arrest you, have a warrant for your arrest, or if there is any possibility that you may be implicated in a crime, you need a lawyer.

Do you need to retain a private lawyer? No. If you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer from The Legal Aid Society, the Assigned Counsel Plan for the City of New York (18-B lawyer), Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, New York County Defender Services, Queens Law Associates, P.C., or the Office of Paul Battiste, Esq. (Staten Island). All such lawyers are paid by the state.

If you are poor and cannot afford a lawyer, you should not feel that your court-appointed lawyer will not do a good a job for you. Lawyer who work for public defender offices or who are assigned cases by the state take their job very seriously and by and large provide excellent service to their clients.

On the other hand, if you can afford a lawyer the court will not appoint a lawyer for you; you will have to hire an attorney and pay him from your own pocket. You should, however, make sure to hire a lawyer who specializes in criminal law. Criminal defense is a highly specialized field, and you cannot afford to gamble with your life and liberty.

If you intend to hire your own lawyer, but cannot do so in time for your arraignment, the judge will appoint one to represent you, at the state’s expense, for the arraignment only. After that time, the lawyer you hire will represent you.

Of course, you may also represent yourself and act as your own lawyer; however, it is better to have a lawyer represent you.

 

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