Innocent until proven guilty

If you're charged under criminal law, there is one very important thing to remember — you are innocent until proven guilty.

Your arrest will be overwhelming. You will have a lot of questions. The path forward will, for a while, be quite uncertain. But that's why you retain experienced attorneys and that's why you don't seek a quick fix.

Phillips & Millman believe in the U.S. Constitution. We believe in our nation's justice system. We believe in your rights under the law. Above all, we believe in your right to proper legal representation and the fact that all stand equal in the eyes of the law. Not for nothing, that iconic symbol of justice, the scale, speaks volumes at Phillips & Millman. "Freedom and Justice for all" is not just a slogan in our office.

If you've been charged under criminal law, take a deep breath and remember, you can't change the past. All you can do is anticipate what may be coming your way and prepare, prepare, prepare. That's where Phillips & Millman come in.

Start with our website, where you can read our take on things as they pertain to criminal law.

"Even good people sometimes find themselves facing criminal charges..." is what you'll read. "...Our firm is large enough to command the respect of prosecutors and courts, but small enough to provide personalized service to all clients."

Frank Phillips and Jeffrey Millman are both former prosecutors. That means they have been on the other side of the fence from where you may now stand.

So what do you need to know in the wake of being charged under criminal law? To put things in perspective, consider that New York State classifies crimes into different categories that include misdemeanors and felonies.

According to the New York State Unified Court System, misdemeanors can include petty theft, disorderly conduct, drug possession, simple assault, trespassing, public intoxication and vandalism like graffiti. 

Misdemeanors are divided into three groups: Class A, Class B and Unclassified. The maximum jail sentence for a Class A misdemeanor is one year; three months for a Class B misdemeanor; and three months for an Unclassified misdemeanor. A sentence of one year in jail, however, can be handed down for a Driving While Intoxicated charge.

Felonies are the most serious crimes and include murder, rape and arson. Those who are found guilty or who plead guilty can receive a jail sentence, but there could also be less time in jail with probation. Felonies are separated into different groups based on how serious a crime is. Jail sentences can range from four years to life, although that can vary depending on a range of factors.

There are also violent and non-violent felonies. First-degree and second-degree robbery are violent felonies. But third-degree robbery is a non-violent felony. Punishments for non-violent felonies can hinge on whether or not this is a first felony conviction.

There is a lot to process here. But the important thing to remember is that criminal law has a lot of nuance. There are many ways a court case and sentence could go, depending on many factors. Attorneys Frank Phillips and Jeffrey Millman, with their years of experience prosecuting and defending criminal cases, can help you navigate the ins-and-outs of the justice system so you don't end up making one mistake worse than it has to be.

The important thing to remember, and we can't stress this enough, is that you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If you've been charged under criminal law, you are likely stressed over what your future may bring and how this could affect your family, your job and your life. 

Take a deep breath. You have rights. For all that you are feeling right now, about the law NOT being on your side, the law is on your side in many respects. 

The New York State Constitution reads:

"In any trial in any court whatever the party accused shall be allowed to appear and defend in person and with counsel as in civil actions and shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation and be confronted with the witnesses against him or her. No person shall be subject to be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense; nor shall he or she be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or herself..."

What, exactly, does that mean? It means you have rights. Phillips & Millman are here to defend your rights, to make sure you are treated fairly according to the law and to make sure that, as the New York State and U.S. Constitution guarantee, you have your day in court. 

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Phillips & Millman, LLP 148 South Liberty Drive Stony Point, NY 10980