What should I do if I have been arrested? Issued a desk appearance ticket? Been released on bail?

These are some common questions when faced with a criminal charge. An arrest occurs when the police believe that you have committed a crime. Regardless if the police witnessed wrongdoing, the police are authorized to effectuate an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that you participated in a offense defined under the law.

What is ‘litigation’?

A controversy before a court or a “lawsuit” is commonly referred to as “litigation.” If it is not settled by agreement between the parties, it would eventually be heard and decided by a judge or jury in a court. Litigation is one way that people and companies resolve disputes arising out of an infinite variety of factual circumstances. The term “litigation” is sometimes to distinguish lawsuits from “alternate dispute resolution” methods, such as “arbitration” in which a private arbitrator would make the decision, or “mediation” which is a type of structured meeting with the parties and an independent third party who works to help them fashion an agreement among themselves.

When the police make an arrest, persons are typically brought to the local precinct where they are held for questioning or arraignment. Prior to seeing a judge, you will be processed while in police custody, which includes being fingerprinted and potentially providing a statement to the police. It is critical that you have the assistance of counsel during this process. This is the time when the arresting officers make the determination as to what crimes to charge the defendant with.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy allows individuals or businesses (“debtors”) who owe others (“creditors”) more money than they’re able to pay to either work out a plan to repay the money over time or completely eliminate (“discharge”) most of the bills. What type, or chapter, of bankruptcy should I file? Consumers typically file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where repayment is made to creditors or under Chapter 7 where the debts are discharged. Each chapter of bankruptcy spells out: What bills can be eliminated How long payments can be stretched out What possessions you can keep

Arraignment is when you are formally charged with a crime or crimes. This is your opportunity to enter a plea of “not guilty”. The purpose of an arraignment is to inform you of the specific charges you are facing. The Judge will also consider arguments made by defense counsel with respect to bail. The Judge will either continue or set bail, release you on your own recognizance (meaning release you with the expectation that you will appear voluntarily at your next scheduled court date), or release you into the custody of the probation department. For further discussion with respect to your particular situation, please contact our offices.

If you are charged with a violation or misdemeanor, you may be issued a desk appearance ticket. The DAT will direct you to appear at a later date in court before a judge. When persons are released with a DAT, bail has often been posted at the police station. When you appear in court, the Judge may continue the bail, exonerate the bail, or set a new, higher amount.

The selection of which type to file depends on your particular circumstances and whether or not there are assets available to repay all, or part, of the debts owed. Bankruptcy laws can be tricky and involved, so determining if you should file bankruptcy and what type of bankruptcy you need should be made with the input of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Can all types of debt be discharged? No. The debts that cannot be discharged vary slightly between the different chapters of bankruptcy. Generally, the following cannot be discharged: Debts for taxes owed to local, state, or federal agencies Debts for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit, which was obtained fraudulently Debts which were neither listed nor scheduled or which the debtor waived discharge Debts which are owed to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, for alimony, maintenance, or support of such spouse or child, in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record Debts owed for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another person or property owned by another. Debts for government-sponsored educational loans, unless it can be shown that repayment will cause an undue hardship Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s drunk driving or from driving while under the influence of drugs or other substances Debts incurred after a bankruptcy was filed How long does a bankruptcy stay on my record? Bankruptcies remain on credit reports anywhere from seven up to 10 years.