To submit a New York criminal law question, Email me at

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Someone filed a criminal complaint against me, what do I do?

I found out someone filed a complaint against me. Should I call the precinct with the case number and speak to the officer or just wait to hear from the cops? 

You have a 5th Amendment right not to speak to the police. I strongly urge you to exercise that right as it is entirely possible that the police do not have enough evidence to arrest you at this moment.  Any interaction with the police could help them build a case against you.

It is typical that the police will call you and ask you to come down to the precinct to "hear your side of the story". They are not trying to help you and will NOT let you talk your way out of being arrested. They are merely trying to build a stronger case against you by getting you to admit any details that corroborate the complaint against you. It is usually the case that they have already made up their mind to arrest you before you step foot in the precinct.  The police are under very little obligation to investigate the accusations made before arresting someone.

Moreover, the police rarely record your discussion so it is entirely possible that the police will claim you said something that you did not say. You would not believe the number of clients who have told me that the police altered their statements or fabricated them altogether. The only way to guarantee that doesn't happen is to have an attorney speaking on your behalf during the investigation stage.

Once you hire an attorney, they can quickly find out the status of the investigation, whether the police want to question or arrest you and in the unfortunate circumstance where you will be arrested, the attorney can arrange a mutually convenient time for your voluntary surrender that will minimize your time spent in the system. This will also prevent the unpleasantness of the police showing up to your home or place of business and dragging you away in handcuffs. An attorney can also make sure that any lineups or identification procedures conducted are done so fairly and without prejudice or prompting from the police.

Legal disclaimer: All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication. For a privileged private consultation, contact me at 212-385-8600 or via my website

1 comment: