Interviewer: Are there any conditions that the courts impose on people when setting bail?
Eric: Yes. In Nassau County and in Suffolk County they have different procedures. Sometimes in the city they impose conditions also. It is known as being conditionally released. What is that mean?
You can be conditionally released to probation. You don’t have to put any money up but after each and every court appearance, you’re required to report the probation so they know you had major court appearance. The Probation Department will interview each client and determine what contact between court appearances is necessary.
Some Conditions Are Imposed to Ensure Public Safety
Although they’re not technically on probation, there could be restrictions depending on the age limit. I’ve seen young defendants have curfews imposed on them. We’ve seen older individuals who are accused of different crimes, not necessarily have curfews but have to maintain their job status. Probation can make sure that the person is reporting to work and that they’re doing whatever it is that the probation officer has asked them to do. These would be appropriate to make sure that you continue the safety of society during the pendency of your case.
It Can Be Helpful for the Outcome of the Case If an Individual Involved in an Alcohol or Drug-Related Case Is Released into a Treatment Program
The court can even release individuals to their parents. They can release them to drug programs, which is always helpful when you have people who are accused of any substance problem whether it’s alcohol or drugs. At least, while the case is pending, the person is getting treatment.
Interviewer: Their first court date and when they’re released, whether conditionally or not, is that appearance called anything or is that just the start of the case?
The First Appearance Is Considered a Conference State
Eric: That’s just really the beginning of the case, it’s a conference that the lawyer has with the prosecution, so depending on how far off in the future it is or close in time to be original arraignment. The district attorney may not even have had a chance to investigate the case. It’s a conference state and some cases proceed quickly and some cases get adjourned for a longer time for the district attorney’s investigation or for us to supply documents again on some of our substance problem cases.
For people who are in treatment, we’d like to let the DA know that they’re in treatment, they’re doing well and that’s how we use the negotiation process with the judge and the court and the DAs office to try and come across what we think is a good resolution for a client.
Knowing What to Expect: Your Attorney Should Take the Time to Completely Explain the Process of a Criminal Charge
Interviewer: When a client comes to see you, what do you tell them as far as what will happen next? What’s the process with a defense attorney?”
Eric: With us? If somebody comes in, they always meet with me. When you come in the lawyer offices of Eric Sacks, you meet with Eric Sachs because that’s who you want to hire. I spend as much time with the individual as needed to explain the system, the process, where the courthouse is, what they can expect, what it looks like, because it’s a scary process.
We’re going through everything as to where they go, where they park, what time they need to get there, where to meet me, what the courtroom looks like, what they’re going to do and what they’re not going to do. Most people are very concerned, “Do I have to say anything?” We just tell them, “No, you’re never going to say anything at this juncture.” It may turn out that you really never say anything at all. We’re going through all of that to make people feel comfortable.
You Should Completely Understand the Nature of the Charge against You and How Long the Case May Take to Resolve
We show them pictures of the courthouse, we show them pictures of the courtroom so they’re more at ease. We discuss the charge so they understand what they’re accused of. Obviously, I want to hear the full story from somebody that is accused of a crime. Are there other people involved?
If it’s the police are saying that they had drugs, we need to discuss all of this, as well as our possible defenses and what we have to do. I always try to give them an idea of how long a case may take and what’s in their best interest to do and what I may need them to do to help me help them. I can’t help somebody if they don’t help me help them.
Interviewer: It’s very important, when dealing with the police, to tell them as little as possible. When dealing with the defense attorney, the person needs to disclose every detail.
By Eric Sachs