We continue to fight for our clients during the COVID-19 emergency. Learn More
You've got questions. We can help you find answers.

My loved one was arrested and we need a lawyer. Can you help?

If your loved one cannot afford an attorney, they will automatically be appointed a criminal defense lawyer free of charge when they first appear before a judge for arraignment. Depending on the date that you were arraigned, an NYCDS attorney may be appointed by the court to represent them.

But you can now access free legal assistance before arraignment. If your friend or loved one has just been arrested in NYC, call 1-833-3-GOODCALL (1-833-346-6322), a free 24/7 emergency hotline that will connect you with a lawyer.

What are my rights during police encounters?

The New York Civil Liberties Union has assembled a helpful primer on what to do if you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or injured in an encounter with the police and how to file a complaint.

How does the criminal court process work?

The criminal legal system process in New York State is complicated and confusing, and youth ages 16 or under face a different process than adults when accused of a crime. Learn more about these processes at the links below.

Where is the Manhattan Criminal Court located?

The New York County Criminal Court building is located at 100 Centre Street in lower Manhattan. For more details about the courthouse and courtroom locations, follow the link below.

For more information, you can call the courthouse directly at 646-386-4511.

How can I pay bail?

Below are resources to provide guidance about the difference between paying cash bail and getting a bail bond, to learn how to pay bail online or in person, and to learn more about your rights when dealing with bail bonds agencies.

How can I visit someone in jail or prison?

If your loved one is in a city jail awaiting trial in Manhattan or if they were sentenced to under a year of jail time, they may be incarcerated at Rikers Island or the Manhattan Detention Center.

  • To locate a friend or family member who is incarcerated in an NYC jail, click here.
  • For a step-by-step guide on what to expect when visiting Rikers Island, click here.
  • To access the official NYC Department of Corrections visit guide, click here.
  • City jails do not accept visitors every day of the week. To access the visit schedule, click here.
  • The City provides free buses to Rikers from Harlem and downtown Brooklyn. For more info about the Rikers buses, click here.

If your loved one was sentenced to more than a year of state prison time, they may be incarcerated in an upstate prison.

  • To locate a friend or family member who is incarcerated by the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), click here.
  • To access the official DOCCS family guide with maps and driving directions to New York State prison facilities, information about visitation, etc., click here.
  • For additional resources for families with children of incarcerated parents, click here.

 

I have a prior criminal record. How can I improve my chances of gaining employment or housing? Can I seal my prior record?

If you have a criminal record that is preventing you from getting employment, public housing, higher education, etc., call the Legal Action Center at 212-243-1313. LAC provides services ranging from help applying for a certificate of relief from disabilities or good conduct, collecting evidence of your rehabilitation, challenging a NYCHA decision, etc.

Under New York law you can seal certain felony and misdemeanor convictions. Sealing a case means that the record still exists, but can no longer be publicly accessed without a court order. If you have not had any new convictions in ten years, you may be eligible to seal your record. To learn more about eligibility and the application process, call the Legal Action Center at 212-243-1313 or follow the link below.

I need assistance with a family law issue. Who should I call?

Family court hears matters involving children and families such as abused or neglected children, adoption, custody, foster care approval, child and/or spousal support, etc.

Legal Services NYC can help you with issues related to child custody, including obtaining and maintaining custody, securing safe visitation, and obtaining and enforcing child support orders. To access their help call 917-661-4500 or follow the link below.

The Center for Family Representation helps parents facing allegations of abuse or neglect by providing free legal representation and social work services to enable children to stay with their parents safely. You can call them at 212-691-0950 or follow the link below.

I need food, shelter, or other services. How can I access them?

The law requires New York City to provide temporary emergency shelter to every person who needs it, every night. To find out how to enter a NYC shelter or to apply for temporary housing assistance, click here or call 800-994-6494.

To find a food pantry near you or to learn how to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, click here.

To secure a broad range of services provided by The Bowery Mission such as food, clothing, showers, medical help, shelter, residential programs, etc., click here.

To learn how to apply for child support services, social security disability (SSI), home energy assistance, etc., click here.

Where can I find treatment or support for mental health or substance abuse issues?

NYC Well provides free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text or chat and get access to mental health and substance misuse services in more than 200 languages, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Call at 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) or visit NYC Well online.