Legal Aid Society

Arrests & Policing

Being stopped, questioned by the police and/or arrested can be frightening. If you have been contacted by the police regarding a criminal investigation, you should speak to an attorney who can advise you of your rights before speaking to law enforcement. To speak to an attorney in one of our Criminal Defense offices call the number for your borough listed below.

How To Get Help

If you, or someone you know, has been arrested and you have questions about a pending criminal case, contact your attorney or call the Criminal Defense Office in your borough to find out how to get help.

Criminal Defense Offices

Bronx: 718-579-3000
Brooklyn: 718-237-2000
Manhattan: 212-732-5000
Queens: 718-286-2000
Staten Island: 347-422-5333

If you are a youth 17 and under and the police have contacted you about an arrest, or you are a parent/guardian of a youth 17 and under call our Juvenile Rights Practice trial office in your borough and ask to speak to a delinquency supervisor. Like adults, youth have a right to an attorney and may request to consult with an attorney PRIOR to and DURING any police interaction. We do not advise meeting with police without consulting an attorney.

Juvenile Trial Offices

Bronx: 718-579-7900
Brooklyn: 718-237-3100
Manhattan: 212-312-2260
Queens: 718-298-8900
Staten Island: 347-422-5333

Civilian Complaint Review Board

If you feel your rights have been violated by a member of the New York City Police Department you can file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) or by calling 800-341-2272.

Important Things To Know

If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for you from a firm like The Legal Aid Society.

Learn More

What you need to know about your Miranda Rights.

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Important information about protesting in NYC.

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Terms You Might Hear

The justice system can be overwhelming. Get familiar with some legal terms and acronyms you might hear like appeal, adjournment, petition, jurisdiction, deposition, and affidavit.

  • Adjournment – A temporary postponement of a case until a specified future time.
  • Administration for Children's Services (ACS) – The Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and its network of community-based organizations promotes the safety and well-being of New York's children and families.
  • Arraignment – A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is called before a court, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or as otherwise permitted by law.
  • Attorney – A person admitted to practice law and authorized to perform criminal and civil legal functions on behalf of clients.
  • Central Booking – A facility that offers temporary stay to offenders prior to their arraignment
  • Clerk – An official or employee of the court who maintains the files of each case, and issues routine documents.
  • Contraband – Any property that it is illegal to produce or possess.
  • Conviction – A criminal proceeding that concludes the defendant is guilty of the charged crime.
  • Court Officer – The officer in the courtroom who protects the judge and keeps order.
  • Court Warrant – An order (writ) of a court which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring a person before the judge. This can be a person charged with a crime, convicted of a crime but failed to appear for sentencing, owes a fine, or is in contempt of court.
  • Criminal Justice Agency – An independent agency that evaluates arrested persons' work histories and family ties in order to recommend to the court whether or not bail should be set.
  • Custody – The care, possession, and control of a thing or person.
  • Defendant – In a civil matter, this refers to the individual being sued. This party is called the "respondent" in a summary proceeding. In a criminal case, the court officers and district attorneys will use this term to refer to someone accused of a crime.
  • Delinquency – An offense or misdemeanor; a misdeed; A debt or other financial obligation on which payment is overdue.
  • Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) – An order issued by the police to appear in Criminal Court to respond to an accusation that you have committed an offense.
  • Dismissal – Termination of a proceeding for a procedurally prescribed reason.
  • Docket – A written list of judicial proceedings set down for trial in a court OR a number given to a case in family court.
  • Evidence – A form of proof or probative matter legally presented at the trial of an issue by the acts of the parties and through witnesses, records, documents, concrete objects, etc., for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the court or the jury.
  • Felony – An offense of graver character than a misdemeanor and usu. punished by imprisonment for more than one year.
  • Grand Jury – A jury convened to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant the indictment of a suspected offender.
  • Jurisdiction – The ability for the court to decide the case, based on the type of case.
  • Juvenile Offender – A youth who is 13, 14 or 15 years old and has committed a very serious felony, may be tried as an adult in the New York City Supreme Court. If found guilty, the youth is called a Juvenile Offender, and is subject to more serious penalties than a Juvenile Delinquent.
  • Lawyer – Someone whose job is to give advice to people about the law and speak for them in court.
  • Lien – A claim on specific property for payment of a debt.
  • Misdemeanor – Lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies which can be punished by a state prison term.
  • Motion – A request to the court, usually in writing, for relief before the trial on the parties' claims, or for different or additional relief after the trial decision.
  • Order of Protection – A court order requiring someone to stay a certain distance from another person, and sometimes, their children, home, pets, school or employment.
  • Petition – In special or summary proceedings, a paper like a document filed in court and delivered to the respondents, stating what the petitioner requests from the court and the respondents.
  • Precinct – A district of a city or town defined for police purposes. May also refer to a police station.
  • Probation – The condition of being allowed freedom if they commit no more crimes and follow certain rules.
  • Proceeding – A type of lawsuit. For example: In Housing Court, a nonpayment proceeding seeks past-due rent; a holdover proceeding seeks possession of the premises.
  • Social Security – A federal program that provides income, health insurance, and other benefits.
  • Summons – A plaintiff's written notice delivered to the parties being sued, that they must respond to within a specific time.
  • Surrender – To cancel or invalidate.
  • TPS – Temporary Protective Status. Offers temporary legal status to certain immigrants in the United States who cannot return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary reasons.
  • Testimony – An oral declaration made by a witness or party under oath.
  • Trial – The formal examination of a legal controversy in court so as to determine the issue.
  • Waive – To voluntarily give up a right. Examples include not enforcing the terms of a contract, or knowingly giving up a legal right such as a speedy trial.
  • Warrant – An official document approved by an authority (normally a judge) which gives the police permission to do certain things.
  • WebCrims – The website of the New York State Unified Court System. WebCrims provides online access to criminal cases with future appearance dates in all criminal courts in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the County Courts in the Ninth Judicial District (which includes Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess Counties), the County Court in Erie County, and the Buffalo City Court.
  • Witness – A person who testifies to what they have seen, heard, or otherwise observed.