Have you been charged with a crime?

This is a common background question that is attempting to figure out if you've committed a crime. If you've never been arrested, you can easily answer "No" and move on. If you've been arrested, you may need to think more carefully before answering.

What does it mean to have been "charged."

  • A charge has been defined as a "specific statement of what crime the party is accused (charged with) contained in the indictment or criminal court complaint.
  • During a New York criminal court arraignment, you are officially charged with one or more crimes.
  • Under New York's Criminal Procedure Law, "A person is prosecuted for an offense... when he is charged... by an accusatory instrument filed in a court"
  • Generally speaking, you can be detained by the police without being charged

I was arrested, but my case never went to court

  • You may be able to argue that you were never charged because you were never officially charged in court (see above)
  • Generally speaking, you can be detained by the police without being charged
  • However, the police department may have "charged you" as part of the arrest process and so you should consult with an employment attorney to help you with determining the best answer

I was arrested and went to court but my case was dismissed

  • If you were arrested and went to court, you may have been charged with a crime but it will depend on whether your arraignment offense was a "crime" or a non-criminal offense. You should contact the attorney you had in criminal court to determine this or obtain your case file

I was arrested and convicted of a non-criminal offense

  • If you were convicted, you should investigate your arraignment charge and the nature of the charge you were convicted of. Even if you were only convicted of a non-criminal offense, you may have been charged with a criminal offense at the arraignment.

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