Criminal practice deals with criminal cases at the procedural level, ranging in gravity from misconduct to first-degree murder. To be eligible for representation, clients must be financially unable to retain counsel and face criminal charges in the state or city criminal courts of the Bronx, Kings, New York or Queens County. The Legal Aid Society has been at the forefront of public defense in New York City since 1876 and plays an important role in shaping the practice of criminal defense law in America, often setting the standard by which others practice. Our staff deals with all issues facing our clients and emphasizes issues such as the validity of witness identification and the need for access to police disciplinary records. Practice departments that handle digital DNA and forensic evidence and litigation apply the latest advances to challenge the government and obtain evidence critical to our clients` defense. We elicit narratives that often contain compelling stories of innocence and false accusations, a broader development of facts, and critical context. The consequences are dismissals, acquittals, placements in alternative programs to detention, overturns, and even clarification of wrongful convictions decades later. The broad scope of criminal defence practice ranges from the dynamic defence of clients in court to its presence and partnership in communities. As leading advocates in New York City, staff work diligently and tirelessly to protect the rights of the most marginalized and disenfranchised in society. But our responsibilities as the nation`s oldest and most important public defender go beyond a single case or client. Our social engagement, conflicts of influence and advocacy in general are constantly aimed at increasing fairness and humanity in the criminal justice system and seek to reduce the devastating and lasting consequences of participation in the system for our clients.
Criminal Cabinet staff provide legal advice and representation to members of the public who have not been arrested but need legal assistance in criminal matters, such as: surrender on the basis of an arrest warrant, on a list drawn up by the police, responding to a summons or answering questions during a police investigation. Persons in need of such assistance should contact the Criminal Defense Office of the district where they need assistance. Each department of the Legal Services Society provides investigative and other services necessary for the proper representation and defence of its clients. As New York City`s lead defense attorney, we believe that advocacy should take place not only in the courtroom, but also in the communities where our clients live and work. Every day, our defence advocates engage clients, community members and advocacy groups to amplify the voices of those affected by a broken criminal justice system. Legal Services` criminal practice provides representation in criminal proceedings and appeals, as well as parole revocation defence hearings. Each year, the firm represents clients in approximately 220,000 indigent criminal cases in courts, appeals and probation revocation proceedings and serves as senior defense attorney in New York City. Visit our legal aid directory to find legal help, or chat with a LiveHelp representative to help you navigate the site. Most clients of criminal practice benefit from legal aid through the courts in indictment proceedings, the first court hearing after arrest. Criminal defence staff also represent current clients in administrative and civil proceedings related to their criminal matters, including school suspension hearings, property forfeiture proceedings, sex offender classification hearings, and probation or probation revocation proceedings. Cabinet members worked closely with members of the New York City Council to formulate a series of bills that would improve bail procedures, analyze the problem of ICE officers removing New York immigrants from our courts, and the need to increase accountability and transparency of the New York City Police Department.
In addition to local hearings, staff testified at hearings before the New York State Assembly and Senate, as well as at numerous national and state boards, commissions, and task forces. We believe that criminal justice reform work is as important as the work we do for our individual clients. Every day, our employees work to protect and fight for customers who face the involvement of the justice system. Our effectiveness is based on our work before, during and after criminal proceedings. For example, conducting field staff surveys with clients who need assistance, vigorously advocating for bail, and working with clients` families to mitigate the greater impact of arrest. Holistic advocacy is the hallmark of our representation; Our lawyers, paralegals, investigators and social workers examine all angles of allegations and charges and tirelessly seek to avoid unnecessary and unfair detentions and connect clients with critical resources to address ongoing needs and barriers. The practice includes experienced litigation offices in each district – an appeals office, a probation waiver defense unit, a prisoner rights project, a community justice unit, and a special trial unit. In each area, practice has developed innovative model projects that bring together expertise and advance both criminal justice practice and discourse. Last year, the firm represented nearly 230,000 clients in judicial, appellate and post-conviction cases, pushing for critical reforms that end injustice and discrimination based on race, gender and poverty. District Court: 631-853-5212, Fax: 631-853-4336 Family Court: 631-853-4343 Office of Children`s Rights: 631-439-2450 Riverhead Office: 631-852-1650 Members of the practice regularly appear before legislators and government agencies to comment on legislative proposals and provide insight into issues affecting our clients. Approval led to important legislative victories.
Criminal practice provides a critical and often overlooked voice in every forum, highlighting areas where reform is needed.