Victim and Witness Representation

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When you are the subject or target of an investigation, there is no doubt you need a criminal lawyer to assist you whether the case is in a New York State or Federal Court. Simply, upon arrest or indictment, and beforehand as well, your exposure to a criminal record, incarceration and the decimation of your career, relationships, and legal statuses is too great to ignore. Make no mistake. Even when you are a witness to or victim of a crime, as opposed to a defendant, you consulting with a criminal lawyer is something worthy of consideration. New to and unaware of the criminal process, you will have concerns and issues that may not be sufficiently addressed by the NYPD, local police, the FBI, or prosecutors. At bottom, what are your rights, how do you protect those rights and who will be your voice in the criminal justice system as it unfolds before you?

Victims of Criminal Acts in New York

One of the biggest misconceptions is that an Assistant District Attorney or Assistant United States Attorney is “your” lawyer as a victim or witness. No matter who tells you that they are your counsel, they are not. Their role is a noble and honest one but not one of providing legal advice. Their pursuit of “justice,” whatever that subjectively means to them, is their number one goal. More times than not they will do their best to work with victims and witnesses to reach a conclusion of a case. However, the end disposition of a particular criminal case you are involved in as a victim or witness may not be the resolution you seek or want. Instead it is just imposed upon you whether or not you agree or law enforcement appreciates the long term and collateral consequences.

For example, in the context of domestic violence the police will make an arrest because they are often mandatory. Maybe they misunderstood what transpired. Maybe you misrepresented what occurred. Alternatively, this was the first time anything happened and it devolved into something that it really was not. Whatever the circumstance, there is now an order of protection keeping your spouse away from your home and children even if you want him or her back. Due to a situation that is out of your hands, a young prosecutor spearheading your case imposing his or her will upon you or is not responsive as you would like him or her to be to your questions and needs. Again, it may be in good faith, but it is not what you want or need.

The above example is but only one of many where your voice may be muted.

Witnesses to Criminal Acts in New York

Just like victims of crime, you may not want to assist prosecutors or the police as a witness to an unlawful event. Maybe you are scared for your safety. Maybe you know both parties and don’t want to get involved. Maybe some other legitimate reason exists or is paramount to your desire to walk away. Alternatively, you do want to assist and make law enforcement aware of your knowledge of criminal wrongdoing or you want to share something anonymously. Whatever your reason, a criminal lawyer can both serve and protect you.

Victim and Witness Criminal Subpoenas

There are countless scenarios where a prosecutor may issue a subpoena. Merely because you receive a subpoena by mail or fax does not mean it was properly served or you have to comply. Arguably more important, even if you are properly served do you have to report to the District Attorney’s or United States Attorney’s Office? Are you compelled to speak with him or her? You may be surprised by the answer to these questions. You have rights. Assert and protect them with a lawyer.

Fine Line Between Witness, Victim and Defendant

Of grave concern to many who are pulled into the criminal justice system, what if you are a victim or witness today, but a defendant and an accused tomorrow? While each case is obviously unique, volunteering information or doing so without protections of a proffer or “Queen for a Day” type agreement may set you up for future prosecution. Don’t be naïve or blind. Exercising your rights can mean the difference between remaining a witness or victim and facing a criminal trial or incarceration.

There are numerous reasons why witnesses and victims of crimes seek criminal lawyers from advocating for their rights, concerns and goals to protecting them from investigations, arrests and prosecutions. It may be that you do not need or want an attorney, but if erring on the side of caution is a determination that only you can make. You may not get a second chance to turn back the clock if you make the wrong choice.

Protect your rights and interests. Let experience, advocacy and knowledge be your guide.

Call the New York victim and witness lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online to aid you in protecting your rights and interests today.

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