Should I Hire a Lawyer for my Pink Summons in New York City?
By Don Murray
Whether you want to have a lawyer handle your summons will depend on a variety of issues.
Some people who have the desire and ability to miss work, miss school, or to travel back to New York City to appear in Court, do attempt to handle handle their own pink summonses. Sometimes, the outcomes of their summons matters are not much different, or sometimes, not at all different from the outcomes that might have occurred if they had brought lawyers with them.
But this is not always the case.
Does the Summons Charge a Crime?
Sometimes, pink summonses are given for criminal offenses. It may be "just" a summons. It may well be that the judge may offer you a way to avoid a criminal conviction, but in many cases it still charges a crime. If you are convicted, that pink summons could result in you having a criminal record. Going to jail is not what gives you a criminal record. Being convicted of a crime is what gives you a criminal record.
In many situations the judges in the summons parts will not see their role as one in which they are likely to want to give people criminal records. Therefore it is frequently possible to negotiate non-criminal resolutions to pink summons matters. Knowing exactly what you are charged with and the possible lesser charges available to negotiate to is important when engaging the judge about your case. If you are unfamiliar with the law or with the various possibilities, you must rely on the judge alone for your settlement options.
If you feel comfortable with this level of risk, then perhaps hiring a lawyer for your summons isn't for you.
On the other hand, many people are understandably concerned when there is even a theoretical chance of receiving a criminal conviction. If having a criminal conviction is something that would cause you difficulty or embarrassment in your life, then you would do well to consider having an attorney help you deal with the summons.
If you are one of those people who is concerned about being charged with a crime, then you probably need to consider hiring a lawyer. On the other hand, if you feel comfortable confronting that level of risk on your own, without any legal training or experience, then you may well not need to hire a lawyer.
You are Unable to Appear
If you live outside New York City, or you will be unable to appear on the date of your summons, hiring an attorney to appear for you may be your only realistic alternative to having a warrant issued for your arrest.
In most cases, your only other legal option is to hire an attorney to appear for you. If you fail to appear, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest, even if what you are charged with is a trivial summons.
At Shalley and Murray, we can help you with this problem by making arrangements in most cases for an attorney to appear for you. We will provide an authorization document that will permit us to appear and resolve the matter for you in your absence. In most cases we can do this for a flat fee of $375.
You want to go to Trial
All this talk about working out a summons by "paying a fine" assumes that you want to work it out. Perhaps you don't. If you believe that you have been wrongly accused of whatever it is the summons accuses, then perhaps you are seriously considering "going to trial".
Many people who believe they have done nothing wrong, choose to "pay a fine" rather than to fight the summons at some sort of a "trial". Often the offense is so trivial that people would rather not even waste more time dealing with it than it is worth. Is it really worth returning to court multiple times to argue about whether you were really in the park after dark? In many cases, people don't think so, even if they believe they did nothing wrong.
In some cases, however, people are sufficiently motivated to pursue even trivial accusations. If it is your intention to "go to trial" on a summons, then you absolutely need the advice of counsel. If you are going to participate in one of these "summons trials" then you need to know the rules of evidence, you need to understand criminal law in general, and you need to know how to examine witnesses. If you don't know these things, then you are not in a position to have the best chance of success at your "trial".
How much will it Cost?
The cost of hiring us for a pink summons matter in New York City, in most cases, to resolve your case, assuming that you do not want us to prepare for and conduct a trial is a flat fee of $375.
The $375 flat fee gets you the following benefits:
- We will email you a package of documents, often within an hour of your initial consultation with one of the lawyers.
- The package includes: detailed instructions, a written fee agreement, and an authorization for an attorney from Shalley & Murray to appear on your behalf.
- In most cases, you will not be required to travel to court in New York City. In the highly unlikely and extraordinary event that the judge insists on your presence, we will not charge you any additional fee for the additional appearance.
- You will not need to take time from work.
- Your case will be handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer well qualified to understand the charges, understand the system, and to take advantage of any legal means to resolve the case in your favor.
- We will pay any applicable fines for you (for which you will be separately billed by us)
- We will obtain an official certificate of disposition that will be your proof of the outcome of the case. We will keep a copy for you and send you the original, along with any receipts as proof that any fine is paid. (The Court Clerk charges a $10 fee for the Certificate of Disposition.)
- If you like, we will mail you an explanation of the original charges, and a written explanation of the outcome for your records.
- The attorney who handles your case will contact you immediately upon resolving your case and inform you of the results.
- When you complete the package, simply return the materials to us with a check for the agreed upon fee (or you can pay by credit card) and leave the rest to us. We will be available to answer any questions or you can simply wait for your call, from Court immediately after your case is resolved.