Your Albany Criminal Case: The Basics

So, you've been arrested in Albany. Whether it's for a misdemeanor or felony, dealing with a criminal case is never at the top of anyone's list. Between the arrest, bail bonds, and potential impact a conviction could have on your life, it's not worth the underlying stress. However, if you or someone you love has been arrested and are going to court in Albany, you surely want some answers. What is going to happen? Do I need a lawyer? How much jail time am I looking at?

Since arrests occur in so many different situations, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen. This article provides general information about what to expect in most cases if you are arrested in the "Cradle of the Union."

The Arrest

Let's talk about how you got here in the first place. This might be your first time having contact with the Albany Police, New York State Troopers, or the Albany County Sheriff. Hopefully, it will be your last.

Rest assured. Despite what you may have seen on television or in the movies, your Albany criminal case isn't an episode of NYPD Blue. The police must follow several rules. If they don't, it could jeopardize the Albany County district attorney's case against you.

Your Rights

The U.S. Constitution and the state of New York give criminal defendants several protections under the law such as the right to have an attorney present during questioning if you are taken into custody

You've surely heard about your Miranda rights. The police need to tell you these warnings anytime you are in custody and the subject of interrogation. Here they are:

  1. You have the right to remain silent;
  2. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
  3. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you.

Bail

After you are arrested the police have two options: take you to jail for booking or release you with a promise to appear at a later date. If you're taken into custody, and you'll either be released on your own recognizance or you'll have to post bail or bond. Bail is money that you have to pay to the courts in order to be released from jail pending trial. You usually have to put up 10% of the total amount of bail the judge sets in your case in order to get out.

You can expect to be fingerprinted, photographed and provide general information about yourself such as home address, birth date, and occupation. You should be given a copy of your complaint that tells you what you are being charged with.

Getting a Lawyer

Anyone arrested is going to have to deal with the Albany criminal court system. Defendants may want to speak with an attorney about how to navigate the maze of criminal law and procedure. One can hire an Albany criminal lawyer or see if they qualify for the Albany County public defender. There's also the option of representing yourself, but that is often not an easy task.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, the district attorney has a set time limit that he or she must charge you with a crime or they will be completely barred from ever doing so. It's known as a statute of limitations.

Murder has no time limit. Most felonies carry a five year maximum, while misdemeanors can range anywhere from one to three years depending on the type of crime.

How Many Classes of Crimes Does New York Recognize?

What happens in your Albany criminal case will depend on if you're charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Both felonies and misdemeanors are divided into separate classes.

New York felonies are separated into classes A to E. Class A felonies are the most serious and carry the highest punishments. Class E felonies are considered the least serious felonies.

Misdemeanors are divided into three categories, A, B, and Unclassified.

Let's explore possible penalties for each type of crime.

Albany Misdemeanors Penalties

Although a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, a conviction can have a major impact on your life and future career possibilities.

Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail. Common types of Class A misdemeanors include assault, stalking, some sexual misconduct crimes, vandalism, larceny, certain drug and weapons offenses.

Class B misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail. Generally Class B misdemeanors include prostitution, harassment, loitering, and possession of unlawful fireworks.

Unclassified Misdemeanors carry different sentences depending on the severity of the crime. These typically include vehicle and traffic violations, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving without a license.

Albany Felony Cases

Felonies are serious crimes that carry huge penalties including years of prison time, large fines, and major repercussions for the rest of your life. Felony crimes fall into 5 categories. Albany felonies include murder, rape, robbery, embezzlement, and fraud -- just to name a few.

Felony sentencing in New York is rather complicated. As we mentioned, felonies are graded A-E, but they are also labeled violent or non-violent, depending on the nature of the crime. All of these factors come into play when the judge sentences you. Here's a general idea of what to expect. You can also read more about felony sentencing here.

  • 'A' Violent Felony - Life, 20-25 years
  • 'B' Violent Felony - 5-25 years
  • 'B' Non Violent Felony - No Jail, Probation 1-3 years, Max 25 years
  • 'C' Violent Felony - 3 1/2 to 15 years
  • 'C' Non Violent Felony - 1-2 years to 15 years
  • 'D' Violent Felony - 2-7 years
  • 'D' Non Violent Felony - No Jail, Probation, 1-3 to 7 years
  • 'E' Violent Felony - No Jail, Probation, 1 1/2 to 4 years
  • 'E' Non Violent Felony - No Jail, Probation, 1 1/3 to 4 years

The Final Word About Albany Criminal Cases

Criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. Anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting an Albany criminal lawyer for more information.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.