First Time Arrest
For individuals with no prior record or only a minimal criminal history (often called the "first time offender"), Queens County has different sentencing alternative programs that might be offered in the case.
These programs are not offered in every case, even when the individual meets the eligibility criteria. In many cases, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case has tremendous discretion to decide what offers will be made to resolve the case. These decisions are often made right after the arrest or at the first court appearance.
Queens First Time Offender Lawyer
By having a criminal defense attorney involved early in the case, the defense attorney can begin fighting for the best result. In some cases, the attorney will fight for the charges to be dismissed outright. In other cases, the attorney and client might decide that a diversion or sentencing alternative program offered in Queens County, New York, is the best way to resolve the case.
If you were arrested for the first time or if you have a minimal criminal history, that is one of the most important factors working in your favor. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the best way to fight the case to protect your criminal record and good name. Any arrest or criminal accusation is serious. Call Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner at 718-261-5600 to discuss your case today.
Overview on New York First Arrests
- Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)
- Reduction to Disorderly Conduct under PL Section 240.20
- What Sentencing Alternative Programs are Available in Queens County, NY?
- Queens District Attorney's Youth Part
- Queens District Attorney's Youth Diversion Program
- First Time Arrest Resources
Often called the ACD, the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal means that the case is dismissed and sealed on the date of adjournment, except on objection from the District Attorney's Office as set forth in CPL 170.55. One reason for an objection by a prosecutor with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office is because of a new arrest on additional felony or misdemeanor charges.
The State of New York has separate provisions for an ACD in a case involving the possession or sale of marijuana under CPL 170.56. In most cases, it takes six months before the case is dismissed and sealed. For certain drug charges and domestic violence offenses it takes one year.
Agreeing to an ACD is not the same as admitting guilt. CPL 150.55(8) provides: "No person shall suffer any disability or forfeiture as a result of such an order. Upon the dismissal of the accusatory instrument pursuant to this section, the arrest and prosecution shall be deemed a nullity and the defendant shall be restored, in contemplation of law, to the status he occupied before his arrest and prosecution." Additionally, under CPL 160.50, "the record of such action or proceeding shall be sealed."
In certain misdemeanor and felony cases, there are advantages to getting the charges reduced to a violation for Disorderly Conduct under PL 240.20. The main benefit of this resolution, is that the violation is not a criminal offense. Nevertheless, because of possible collateral consequences, this resolution may not be appropriate for certain types of professionals such as health care professionals (including nurses), lawyers, certified educators, or students that wish to enter one of those professions.
Although the arrest record can be sealed under 160.55, the court file cannot be sealed. For this reason, the complete sealing under CPL 160.50 for an ACD is better in that respect.
The Queens County District Attorney's Office might also agree to drug court in certain types of cases. These programs include Queens Treatment Court (QTC) and the Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court. Each program has certain pros and cons. Entering the program may not be in your best interest even if you are eligible.
Additionally, the Queens County District Attorney's Office has several sentencing alternative programs for juveniles and young men. During negotiations with the Assistant District Attorney certain diversion programs might be offered to a person with a first arrest, or a person will little criminal history. These programs divert the individual away from traditional sentencing options and towards treatment for drug abuse and other behavioral issues that contributed to the criminal accusation.
The TASC (Treatment Alternative to Street Crime) is a not-for-profit criminal justice agency used in courtrooms throughout Queens County to screens and place defendants into these alternative programs. TASC is also tasked with managing the individual while they complete the requirements of the program.
The Queens District Attorney's Youth Part is for young men between the age of 14 and 21 years old. To be eligible, the individual must have a first misdemeanor arrest with minimal criminal history. The program takes at least one year to complete and requires frequent court visits.
In 2012, the program placed more than 145 young men. A panel monitors the first time misdemeanor offenders' progress in individualized services. Participants are required to complete certain counseling requirements and then receive an ACD. In 2012, the program handled more than 400 cases.
The Queens D.A. Youth Diversion Program is targeted to help young men who are involved in the criminal justice system with pending felony charges. In order to meet the eligibility criteria, the young man must be between the ages of 14 and 19 years old.
The pending charge must be for a first felony arrest and the participant must have a minimal criminal history. The program offers the young man an alternative to incarceration using a deferred sentence model. In this model, the participant must complete an out patient treatment program managed through the District Attorney's Office in Queens County, New York.
The program uses intensive targeted services for education and counseling. It takes at least one year to complete the program. And a new class of young men is assembled every four months. If the young man completes the program successfully, then the charges will be dropped or reduced to only misdemeanor charges.
To participate, the young man must be placed on interim probation supervision with an electronic monitoring bracelet that must be worn for a minimum of 90 days. The participant must submit to random urine tests. Also, a curfew is imposed.
The participant must attend certain activities in the program, attend school, or find gainful employment. Participants must attend weekly individual and group counseling, perform community service, and receive specialized training on different topics such as anger management or life skills. The program uses presentations from crime victims and field trips. Graduates must be in school or must obtain their GED.
Queens Youth Justice Center-The Queens Youth Justice Center provides resources for juveniles who have been charged with low-level offenses, including diversion programs, skill building workshops, and case management services.
Kings County District Attorney Youth Diversion Program | Back on Track- The Kings County District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York offers the Back on Track program that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Attorney for First Offenders in Queens County, NY
After an arrest for any misdemeanor or felony offense, a person with no prior criminal record has many advantages in resolving the case. Many different options might be available.
An experienced criminal defense attorney in Queens County, NY, can help you understand the pros and cons of each option. Call Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner at 718-261-5600 or submit an online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...
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