Minor Offenses

Being charged with even minor offenses can be upsetting and traumatic.  Escaping those situations with an unblemished record is often paramount and crucial to maintaining employment, one’s standing in the community, and sometimes to save a career that you have worked for years to achieve.  

Students and teenagers are frequently charged with minor offenses when ordinary mischief, pranks, marijuana use, or underage drinking, leads to criminal charges.  Pleading guilty to misdemeanors, or even to a violation level offense, can almost always be avoided when a young person is arrested for the first time.  You always want to enter college or the job market with unblemished record.

Appreciating the sensitivity of these situations is as important, getting charges dismissed and records sealed, and communicating to your children the importance of avoiding future legal problems are all a part of providing full representation.



Frequently Asked Questions


Do all criminal defense lawyers practice in federal court?

Representing those charged with federal crimes in United States District Court is an area of practice that is different from state court.  Most criminal defense lawyers practice only in state court.  Federal court charges require a lawyer with appropriate experience with the procedures, laws and prosecutors that are unique to federal court.

Lee Greenstein has been practicing in federal court for over 20 years and has a reputation in Albany and surrounding areas as a go-to lawyer for those charged by the U.S. Attorney, having tried cases in U.S. District Court, represented clients in numerous areas of federal charges, and forged strong lawyers with the U.S prosecutors.



If I live far from court can a lawyer appear for me?

It is common for courts to permit people charged with misdemeanors, DWI’s or traffic violations, who live or go to college out of town, to avoid personally appearing in court by having a lawyer appear for them.  Even if you are charged with a felony, once you have made an initial appearance with counsel lawyers can appear at certain court appearances without the client having to go the expense and difficulty of traveling for every court appearance.



If I have a drug abuse problem will I get any sympathy?

Absolutely ‘yes’!  Prosecutors and judges have become very sensitive to the fact that alcohol and drug addiction are diseases and that those who commit crimes because of that problem they deserve to be treated more fairly if they are working to address their problems.  The same is true for psychiatric problems.  Many times charges can be dismissed or reduced to non-criminal offenses when people diligently seek treatment.  In addition, all counties now have Drug Courts that specifically aim to avoid jail terms for people who are willing to responsibility meet these difficult personal issues.



What happens if I refuse to take the breathalyzer?

Driving is a privilege, not a right, so the Department of Motor Vehicles will institute suspension proceedings if you refuse the test.  A driver is obligated to take the test if the officer has a legal right to stop your car, reasonable suspicion to believe you are intoxicated or impair by alcohol or drugs, and properly advises you that your license will be suspended if you refuse.  The suspension for refusing can be a year or longer and occurs even if you were not intoxicated and are found “not guilty” of the DWI charge.

You are entitled to a DMV Suspension Hearing and should retain counsel for that purpose, because many times the procedures were not followed by the police and the suspension can be avoided.



Should I take a breathalyzer if I am being arrested for DWI?

It depends.  You should ask to speak to a lawyer to advise counsel of what you have had to drink to make the best determination. 
Generally, if you have a small amount of alcohol you should consent because you might pass the test, or even if you fail, a low blood-alcohol reading is better than refusing the test.  If you have had a lot of alcohol you should refuse the test.  A high reading might subject you to a more serious charge; it might result in a much more difficult plea bargaining position; sometimes depriving the prosecution of the proof of intoxication puts you in a good position to defend your case or plea bargain.

These considerations are altered if you have had prior DWI convictions, if there was an accident, or if anybody was injured.  The manner in which you were charged, and their ability to prove your were driving, might also alter when you should or should not agree to take the breathalyzer.



Should I give a statement to the police?

Almost never.  If you are being arrested never provide a statement to the police – verbal or written.  Once they have decided to make an arrest, you are not going to change their mind.  Law enforcement wants you to talk in order to help the prosecution.  If you admit the crime their job is easier and you often hurt yourself later on.  Even if you think you are denying the charges, sometimes you mistakenly are admitting to portions of what they have to prove later on.  And even if you are completely denying the charges, by giving a statement you are giving the prosecution advance notice of the defense.  This is free information that you should not give away.

Admissions to the police help when the police relate to the prosecutor that you were deemed cooperative and it results in a more favorable plea bargain.  However, it is difficult to know while you are going through the process if this is a wise move, and you better served by politely declining to speak with the police and ask for a lawyer.





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