Your Poughkeepsie Criminal Case: The Basics

The Dutchess County Jail. It sure is a depressing place. You've broken the law and now you are paying the consequences. Joy riding seemed like a good idea at the time. You've always wanted to drive around in a Smart car at neck breaking, 50 mph speeds. Problem was, the Smart car wasn't yours and you decided to blow every stop sign from here to the Waterfront. Your outing would have gone longer, but a building got in your way -- and you crashed into it. The Poughkeepsie Police put a pair of shiny new handcuffs upon your dainty wrists and placed you in the back of a squad car. Now, here you sit in a cold, damp jail cell wondering why this isn't anything like "Orange is the New Black."

This article provides general information about what to expect from the criminal justice system in general, if you or someone you love is arrested and facing a Poughkeepsie criminal case.

The Arrest

An arrest typically marks the beginning of a person's journey into the Dutchess County criminal justice system. You'll have contact with either the Poughkeepsie Police Department, the Dutchess County Sheriff, or the New York State Police. One of these agencies typically handles an arrest in the area. The police will have to follow a certain set of rules before, during, and after your arrest. If they don't, it could jeopardize the Dutchess County District Attorney's case later.

We've all heard about Miranda rights. The police should read them to you if you are being questioned and are under arrest. If you are concerned that you may incriminate yourself by speaking freely to a police officer, you can request that a lawyer be present.

How Do I Get a Lawyer?

There are two main ways to find an attorney -- hire one or ask for a public defender.

First, a detainee can simply hire a private attorney. Many criminal attorneys work for a flat fee that gets paid either upfront or in installments. An attorney also might charge an hourly rate depending on the type of case.

One may also qualify for the services of the Dutchess County public defender. However, they'll need to fall below a certain income level to qualify.

Posting Bail

Then, the police have two options: take the arrestee to jail for booking or release them with a promise to appear at a later date. If you're taken into custody, you'll likely become a short-term resident at the Dutchess County Jail.

If you want to go home, you'll either be released on your own recognizance or you'll have to post bail. 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 post bail at the main jail lobby seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays. They take cash, bank issued checks, money orders, or credit cards.

Time Limit

Every state has a time limit in which the district attorney must charge you with a crime or they will be lose the opportunity. This is known as a "statute of limitations."

Some crimes, such as murder, don't have a statute of limitations. Most New York felonies have a five-year time limit. Last, but not least, most misdemeanors have a two-year time limit.

Criminal Laws for New York State

Criminal laws for the city Poughkeepsie are found in the New York State Penal Code. There's a misdemeanor or felony law against just about everything, ranging from arson to promoting a suicide. Let's talk about this more in depth.

New York State Felonies

Felonies are serious crimes that carry huge penalties including years of prison time, large fines, and major repercussions for your life outside of prison.

New York classifies felonies from E to A, with A being the most serious. They also classify felonies as "violent" or "non-violent."

Types of Poughkeepsie felonies include murder, robbery, rape, or possession of illegal drugs for sale -- just to name a few.

New York sentencing laws are complicated and depend on a number of factors including nature of the crime and your prior criminal history.

There are two types of sentences in New York: "determinate" and "indeterminate." Determinate sentences run for a specific period, such as eight years. Indeterminate sentences run for a range from a minimum to a maximum, such as fifteen to life.

Poughkeepsie Misdemeanor Cases

A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, but take note, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom. If you are a non-citizen, a misdemeanor can impact your immigration status.

In New York, there are two classes of misdemeanors: A and B. There is a third level known as "unclassified" misdemeanors, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), but unclassified misdemeanors are generally treated as Class A misdemeanors.

The maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor is one year in jail. The maximum sentence for a B misdemeanor is 90 days in jail. Some crimes carry additional penalties such a fine, mandatory counseling or substance abuse classes.

Common Poughkeepsie misdemeanors include petty theft, assault, DWI, and prostitution.

A Final Word About Poughkeepsie Criminal Cases

A criminal conviction 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 a Poughkeepsie criminal attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.