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District Attorney FAQ

Q. What is an arraignment?

A.

  • An arraignment is done at a person's first appearance in court after being charged with an offense.
  • The arraignment process requires the court to advise the person appearing before it what they are charged with and what rights they have under the law.
  • At arraignment the court will consider what kind of securing order to issue to make sure the person charged appears for future court dates. The court can release a person on their own recognizance, release to probation supervision, set bail or remand to jail depending on the seriousness of the charges, the person's criminal history and a number of other factors.
     

Q. What is bail for and how does it work?

A.

  • Bail is an amount of money or other form of security set by the court  to insure the appearance of a defendant at every stage of a criminal proceeding.  Depending on the court's order it can be posted in cash or in some other form authorized by law.
  • A court must release a person on their own recognizance or under the supervision of the St. Lawrence County Probation Department for anyone charged with a non-qualifying offense under New York Criminal Procedure Law.
  • A court may release a person on their own recognizance, released under the supervision of the St. Lawrence County Probation Department, set bail or remand to jail without bail anyone charged with a qualifying offense under New York Criminal Procedure Law.
  • Before a court may order recognizance or bail on a felony matter it must give the District Attorney's Office an opportunity to be heard as to any recommendation.  The court is free to accept the recommendation or not.
  • A court can set bail in any amount it deems reasonable and appropriate to insure a defendant's future appearance in court.
     
Q. What are qualifying offenses for bail purposes in New York?

A. As of July 2, 2020, the following are qualifying offenses under New York law:

(a) a felony enumerated in section 70.02 of the penal law, other than
robbery in the second degree as defined in subdivision one of section
160.10 of the penal law, provided, however, that burglary in the second
degree as defined in subdivision two of section 140.25 of the penal law
shall be a qualifying offense only where the defendant is charged with
entering the living area of the dwelling;

(b) a crime involving witness intimidation under section 215.15 of the
penal law;

(c) a crime involving witness tampering under section 215.11, 215.12
or 215.13 of the penal law;

(d) a class A felony defined in the penal law, provided that for class
A felonies under article two hundred twenty of the penal law, only class
A-I felonies shall be a qualifying offense;

(e) a sex trafficking offense defined in section 230.34 or 230.34-a of
the penal law, or a felony sex offense defined in section 70.80 of the
penal law, or a crime involving incest as defined in section 255.25,
255.26 or 255.27 of such law, or a misdemeanor defined in article one
hundred thirty of such law;

(f) conspiracy in the second degree as defined in section 105.15 of
the penal law, where the underlying allegation of such charge is that
the defendant conspired to commit a class A felony defined in article
one hundred twenty-five of the penal law;

(g) money laundering in support of terrorism in the first degree as
defined in section 470.24 of the penal law; money laundering in support
of terrorism in the second degree as defined in section 470.23 of the
penal law; money laundering in support of terrorism in the third degree
as defined in section 470.22 of the penal law; money laundering in
support of terrorism in the fourth degree as defined in section 470.21
of the penal law; or a felony crime of terrorism as defined in article
four hundred ninety of the penal law, other than the crime defined in
section 490.20 of such law;

(h) criminal contempt in the second degree as defined in subdivision
three of section 215.50 of the penal law, criminal contempt in the first
degree as defined in subdivision (b), (c) or (d) of section 215.51 of
the penal law or aggravated criminal contempt as defined in section
215.52 of the penal law, and the underlying allegation of such charge of
criminal contempt in the second degree, criminal contempt in the first
degree or aggravated criminal contempt is that the defendant violated a
duly served order of protection where the protected party is a member of
the defendant's same family or household as defined in subdivision one
of section 530.11 of this title;

(i) facilitating a sexual performance by a child with a controlled
substance or alcohol as defined in section 263.30 of the penal law, use
of a child in a sexual performance as defined in section 263.05 of the
penal law or luring a child as defined in subdivision one of section
120.70 of the penal law, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a
child as defined in section 263.10 of the penal law or promoting a
sexual performance by a child as defined in section 263.15 of the penal
law;

(j) any crime that is alleged to have caused the death of another
person;

(k) criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation as defined
in section 121.11 of the penal law, strangulation in the second degree
as defined in section 121.12 of the penal law or unlawful imprisonment
in the first degree as defined in section 135.10 of the penal law, and
is alleged to have committed the offense against a member of the
defendant's same family or household as defined in subdivision one of
section 530.11 of this title;

(l) aggravated vehicular assault as defined in section 120.04-a of the
penal law or vehicular assault in the first degree as defined in section
120.04 of the penal law;

(m) assault in the third degree as defined in section 120.00 of the
penal law or arson in the third degree as defined in section 150.10 of
the penal law, when such crime is charged as a hate crime as defined in
section 485.05 of the penal law;

(n) aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old as
defined in section 120.12 of the penal law or criminal possession of a
weapon on school grounds as defined in section 265.01-a of the penal
law;

(o) grand larceny in the first degree as defined in section 155.42 of
the penal law, enterprise corruption as defined in section 460.20 of the
penal law, or money laundering in the first degree as defined in section
470.20 of the penal law;

(p) failure to register as a sex offender pursuant to section one
hundred sixty-eight-t of the correction law or endangering the welfare
of a child as defined in subdivision one of section 260.10 of the penal
law, where the defendant is required to maintain registration under
article six-C of the correction law and designated a level three
offender pursuant to subdivision six of section one hundred
sixty-eight-l of the correction law;

(q) a crime involving bail jumping under section 215.55, 215.56 or
215.57 of the penal law, or a crime involving escaping from custody
under section 205.05, 205.10 or 205.15 of the penal law;

(r) any felony offense committed by the principal while serving a
sentence of probation or while released to post release supervision;

(s) a felony, where the defendant qualifies for sentencing on such
charge as a persistent felony offender pursuant to section 70.10 of the
penal law; or

(t) any felony or class A misdemeanor involving harm to an
identifiable person or property, where such charge arose from conduct
occurring while the defendant was released on his or her own
recognizance or released under conditions for a separate felony or class
A misdemeanor involving harm to an identifiable person or property,
provided, however, that the prosecutor must show reasonable cause to
believe that the defendant committed the instant crime and any
underlying crime. For the purposes of this subparagraph, any of the
underlying crimes need not be a qualifying offense as defined in this
subdivision.

 


Q. How does plea bargaining work and why is it used?

A.

  • Plea bargaining is the process of resolving a criminal matter without having to go through the time and expense of a trial.
  • Plea bargaining requires the approval of the court.
  • Only a defendant can decide if he/she will accept a plea bargain and they must do so freely and voluntarily.
  • Many factors are taken into account when a plea bargain is reached.  Every case is different and not all factors will be weighed the same in every case.  Some of the factors considered are listed below, but there may be many others depending on the case:
    • Seriousness of the offense
    • Strengths and weaknesses of the available evidence
    • Availability of necessary witnesses
    • Input from the victim
    • Criminal history of the defendant
    • Need to protect public safety
    • Need for punishment or rehabilitation
    • The mental health, medical condition and/or treatment needs of the defendant