The rights that are provided to all citizens of the United States by the United States Constitution are considered integral to the operation of our government as a whole. One of these inalienable rights is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. A New York Criminal Lawyer said it is the right against self- incrimination in a criminal trial. The question of how far the right against self-incrimination extends can be argued as it was in 1960 when a group of attorneys were indicted for illegally soliciting legal business for their firm. They were later found guilty of criminal contempt of court and appealed their convictions.
A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the attorneys were charged with contempt of court for refusing to testify in a case against another attorney and invoking the Fifth Amendment protections toward that end. They contend that they could not testify against one of the attorneys that they worked with without incriminating themselves. They further contend that the Grand Jury was being used illegally by the office of the prosecutor to obtain statements from them that would be used in later cases to prosecute them. They were subpoenaed to testify before the Grand Jury in regards to a case against a co-worker involved in illegally soliciting business. The attorneys each appeared as they were subpoenaed, however, upon being called to testify, they each presented the court with a letter invoking their rights to remain silent in order to not incriminate themselves.
The prosecutor then asked to speak with them outside of the hearing of the Grand Jury. Each attorney was told that the Grand Jury was prepared to grant them immunity in the current case if they testified before the Grand Jury. Each one was called back in and the foreman of the Grand Jury was instructed by the prosecutor to direct each of them to answer the question. The question was posed and the order was given. The attorneys still refused to testify. A New York Criminal Lawyer said following the Grand Jury court, the prosecutor presented each of the attorneys with the charge of contempt of court. They were arrested, tried, and found guilty. Each of them filed appeals of the verdict stating that it was unconstitutional to charge them with contempt of court for failing to provide testimony that would tend to incriminate them.
They attorneys contended that their convictions are unconstitutional because it poses the requirement that they testify in a trial that would lead to a prosecution against them. The Supreme Court notes that at the time of the Grand Jury hearing, there is no evidence to indicate that the attorneys in question were in any way about to become targets of a Grand Jury investigation. Under the laws of New York, the Grand Jury is imbued with the power to order a witness to testify as long as that witness is provided with immunity against prosecution if they were involved in the periphery of the case.
In this case, the prosecutor advised each attorney that he would be given immunity against prosecution regarding anything that he testified to in the course of the Grand Jury inquiry. In accordance with New York law, the Grand Jury has the right to compel their testimony. At the time of the Grand Jury inquiry, none of the attorneys who refused to testify were targeted in any criminal wrongdoing. Based on this information, the appellate court determined that the attorneys were wrong in their contention that they could refuse to comply with the order of the Grand Jury. The Supreme Court held that the attorneys were rightfully charged with contempt of court and rightfully convicted. The court determined that the convictions should stand and their request to overturn the conviction was not granted.
At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its criminal lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our contempt of court attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations, whether you have been charged with a white collar crime, unemployment fraud or forgery. Hiring a felony Lawyers can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.