Being charged with and arrested for any crime—from petty theft to DUI to fraud—can jeopardize your liberty, your livelihood, your relationships, your ability to own a firearm and your finances.
If you think that you can talk your way out of it or, if it’s your first criminal charge, the courts will treat you lightly, you could be making a costly mistake.
Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges a Dutchess County criminal defense lawyer at Sayegh & Sayegh PC provides comprehensive counsel and representation. Our law firm specializes in criminal law in Dutchess, NY.
We have the experience you can trust when you’ve been charged with any type of state or federal crime, but some of the most common we handle include:
In New York as in all states, driving while intoxicated is a serious crime. Although a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher automatically puts you above the legal limit, additional factors may come into play. You could face stiffer penalties if charged with aggravated DWI, which can occur when a person’s BAC is .18 percent or higher, or if a child is present in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Penalties vary based on circumstances, but standard penalties for DWI in NY are as follows:
- First-offense DWI—Fines of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, and a minimum license suspension of six months.
- Second-offense DWI—Fines of up to $5,000, up to four years in jail, and a minimum license suspension of one year.
- Third-offense DWI—Fines of up to $10,000, up to seven years in jail, and a minimum license suspension of one year.
If you have been charged with DWI, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Dutchess County defense attorney immediately.
Burglary & Theft
Theft (also called larceny) occurs when someone intentionally takes another person’s property without permission and with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. Common theft can be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the value of stolen goods, but it generally does not involve force or breaking and entering.
Burglary is a theft-related felony offense that occurs when someone unlawfully enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. Although theft (the act of taking another’s property) is not necessary to constitute a burglary, it is often involved. Burglary can be charged in the first, second, or third degree, depending on whether the offense involved a deadly weapon, threats of using a deadly weapon, or resulted in the injury of another person. A first-degree burglary charge carries penalties of up to 25 years in prison.
Assault & Battery
Assault is a criminal offense that occurs when someone intentionally tries to cause injury to another. Whether or not the act results in an injury, an assault charge can apply. In New York, there is actually no legal definition for battery; NY penal law only defines assault, which encompasses what other states often refer to as battery. There are, however, several classifications of assault, from third to first degree.
Third degree assault, a misdemeanor offense which is often called simple assault, involves harming someone with the intent to do so. If, however, you intended to cause serious physical harm, you may be charged with assault in the second degree, a felony. Second degree charges may even apply if no serious harm was actually caused; the intent is what matters. Finally, first degree assault involves the intent to cause serious harm, and actually causing serious harm with the use of a weapon. This is a Class B felony with a penalty of up to 25 years in prison.
New York is tough on drug crimes. Penalties for drug crimes vary widely and depend on myriad factors, including the type and quantity of drug(s) involved, whether or not the defendant has a prior criminal history, and the defendant’s intent for the drug(s) in question. If you are arrested with a small amount of cocaine for personal use, for example, you may be charged with possession; whereas having a large quantity of cocaine may indicate an intent to distribute, which carries much stiffer penalties.
Depending on the type and quantity of drugs in your possession, you may be facing fines from $5,000 to $100,000, and penalties of:
- Up to 20 years in prison, followed by five years of post-release supervision; or
- A minimum of 15 years to life in prison for serious drug trafficking.
Few criminal offenses carry the stigma of sex crimes. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced Dutchess County defense lawyer immediately. Sex crimes can range from misdemeanor touching to forcible rape and crimes involving children, which are extremely serious felony offenses. Although a misdemeanor sexual offense is much less serious, having any type of sex crime on your record can haunt you for the rest of your life.
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dutchess County
A criminal conviction can change your life forever. If you have been charged with or arrested for a crime, or if you believe you are under investigation, do not talk to the police until you call us Sayegh & Sayegh at (845) 592-4448 or contact us online.
Your Rights After You’ve been arrested in Dutchess County
From the moment officers engage with you in any sort of way for the purpose of arresting you, your Constitutional rights—particularly those outlined in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments—should be at the forefront of your mind. Consider some of the most significant ways in which you may be affected:
- Your right to remain silent – At the time of your arrest, the arresting officers are legally required to advise you of your right to remain silent and inform you that anything you say could be used against you in legal proceedings. This and the entire Fifth Amendment is the basis of the famed Miranda warning. Also, you must unquestionably confirm your understanding of these rights once they are described to you.
- Your right to a lawyer – Another piece of the Miranda warning states, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” To expand, you are entitled to representation by a lawyer, either a criminal defense attorney you choose and pay for yourself or a public defender who is completely free of charge. You also have the right to choose to represent yourself, but at any point you can opt to seek legal counsel (and often a public defender is kept on hand during court proceedings in case you change your mind and need immediate support).
- Your right to know the charges against you – You should be advised of the crime(s) with which you are being charged at the time of your arrest. You and your attorney should obtain copies of all police reports, arrest warrants, and other documentation associated with the charges you face.
- You right to know the identity of the police officers dealing with you – You can and should ask for credentials (name, badge number, etc.) from every officer you come in contact with. If they do not offer up these details, they should be included in the documentation you obtain.
- Your right to communicate by telephone with your attorney and your family – The stereotypical “one phone call” after an arrest is a bit inaccurate. Not only do you have the right to contact an attorney (and should be provided with a phone book if you ask for one), you also have the right to alert your loved ones to your whereabouts. So at minimum, you should be granted these two calls. Furthermore, if it takes multiple phone calls to reach your attorney, you must be allowed them (within reason).
Dutchess County criminal defense attorney protecting your rights
For legal support after being arrested on criminal charges, consult the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Sayegh and Sayegh Law. Call us today (845) 592-4448 for immediate assistance, or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Dutchess County?
There are two classifications of criminal behavior in New York: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor offenses are lighter crimes punishable by no more than a year in the county jail and not more than $1,000 in fines. A felony on the other hand, is a much more serious crime punishable by a minimum of one year in the state prison. While any type criminal conviction must be dealt with swiftly and with competent legal aid, felony offenses can have dire consequences on your educational and professional pursuits and can result in life imprisonment.
It is important to understand that some misdemeanor offenses can even be escalated to felonies if there are aggravating circumstances. Regardless of whether you face felony DUI charges, or a misdemeanor drug offense, we are ready to advocate zealously on your behalf.
Just because you are arrested and charged with a felony or other crime does not mean that your fate is sealed. The term “innocent until proven guilty” is real, and from a legal perspective, it means just that: the law presumes your innocence unless and until a jury rules you guilty or you plead guilty in court.
Make no mistake—a felony conviction can have catastrophic implications on your life. Felonies are the most serious type of crime and come with the harshest penalties, including periods of incarceration, enormous punitive fees, losses of freedoms such as your right to vote, difficulty finding work, and more. Not to mention the impact a felony conviction may have on the lives of those you love. For these reasons, if you are accused of a felony, it’s imperative that you defend yourself.
New York Misdemeanor Classes
Misdemeanors in New York and Yonkers are divided into 3 classes: Class A misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and unclassified misdemeanors.
- Class A misdemeanors: Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include forcible touching, sexual misconduct, and assault in the 3rd
- Class B misdemeanors: Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Examples of Class B misdemeanors include prostitution, harassment in the 1stdegree, and public lewdness.
- Unclassified misdemeanors: The penalties associated with unclassified misdemeanors are detailed in the specific laws defining each unclassified offense. Examples of unclassified misdemeanors include aggravated unlicensed driving and reckless driving.
New York Felony Classes
Felonies in New York are considered a serious crime and are punishable by prison sentences in excess of 1 year. Felonies are divided into 5 classes: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E felonies.
- Class A felonies: Class A felonies are punishable by up to life in prison. Examples of Class A felonies include murder in the 1stdegree and arson in the 1st
- Class B felonies: Class B felonies are punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Examples of Class B felonies include assault in the 1stdegree and sex trafficking.
- Class C felonies: Class C felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Examples of Class C felonies include aggravated criminal possession of a weapon and aggravated vehicular assault.
- Class D felonies: Class D felonies are punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Examples of Class D felonies include reckless assault of a child and aggravated identity theft.
- Class E felonies: Class E felonies are punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Examples of Class E felonies include defrauding the government and unlawfully concealing a will.
What to do after being charged with a felony in Dutchess County
If you are accused of a felony, there are a number of steps you should take to protect your rights and give yourself the best possible chance at avoiding the serious penalties you could face:
- Do not speak to police or submit to questioning – As you will be alerted upon your arrest, you are not under any obligation to answer questions or say anything else to those who arrest you. If you do, you could unknowingly incriminate yourself. Instead, exercise your right to remain silent until you have a chance to consult your attorney.
- You have the right to legal representation – You are entitled to representation from an attorney if you want it. You may have a criminal defense lawyer you know on hand—if so, your first call should be to him or her. If not, you can look one up, or you can ask for a public defender free of charge (it’s your Constitutional right). Any of these legal professionals can be summoned and support you during questioning or other processes.
- Find out the charges against you – You have the right to know what felony you are being charged with. Whether or not you are informed of this explicitly at the time of your arrest, your attorney should obtain a copy of your arrest warrant and any other crucial documents.
- Be honest with your criminal defense attorney – This should go without saying, but your lawyer cannot defend you effectively without knowing the full truth. Any information you tell your attorney cannot be used against you in court since it is confidential.
- Avoid posting bail immediately – Never post bail without consulting your attorney. As much as you may want to leave custody right away, there may be strategic reasons to delay posting bail—for instance, your lawyer may be able to have your bail set at $0 or have other plans for your defense.
- Attend all court proceedings – Once you do leave custody, it is of the utmost importance that you attend all court proceedings and other meetings or hearings as your lawyer advises. Failure to appear can be grounds for an arrest warrant and could lead to more time in custody.
Contact a trusted criminal defense lawyer for help with your felony charge in Dutchess County
When you are arrested on suspicion of a felony or other serious crime, you need a defense lawyer you can rely on for support as you fight for your freedom. Remember that an arrest does not equal a conviction, and you may be able to lessen or avoid the penalties you’re facing with help from a qualified professional. To learn more, call (845) 592-4448 or contact Sayegh and Sayegh Law online today.