is one of only four lawyers
in the entire State of New York
who have been Board Certified as
Specialists in DWI Defense Law by the
National College for DUI Defense ("NCDD").*
Peter served as Dean of the
National College for DUI Defense
the only organization in the
United States that is accredited by the
American Bar Association to certify
attorneys as specialists in DWI law.
New York State Board Certified DUI Defense Law Specialist.
Our practice is focused on, but not limited to, DWI and Vehicular Crimes.
Call or e-mail us to learn how we may be able to assist you.
For over 40 years, the Gerstenzang firm has focused on the defense of DWI cases in courts across New York State. The law office of Gerstenzang, Sills, Cohn & Gerstenzang not only defends these cases, we train other lawyers to defend them through programs sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Defenders Association, and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Our book, Handling the DWI Case in New York is considered one of the most authoritative treatises on the subject of driving while intoxicated. It is one of the most sought after books by lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Our attorneys understand a DWI case and all of the ramifications that impact our clients. We understand both sides of the case as three of our lawyers formerly headed up DWI prosecution for the Saratoga, Rensselaer and Albany District Attorney’s Offices.
When he was a prosecutor, Peter Gerstenzang was called upon by the District Attorneys Association of New York State to design a prosecution that has been in use by prosecutors for over 30 years. In addition, while working as a DWI defense attorney, Mr. Gerstenzang was hired by the City of New York to train prosecutors, police officers and judges in how to collect, process and present evidence in trials and hearings of DWI cases. Despite the fact that he was a defense attorney, they trusted him to teach these classes in an unbiased and impartial manner which he did for many years.
Because our practice is almost exclusively focused on DWI cases, we are constantly going from court to court doing pre-trial hearings, as well as administrative proceedings before the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. We are also engaged in jury and non-jury trials of these cases.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of cases are resolved prior to trial with plea bargains. Most prosecutors’ offices have policies and limits on plea bargaining. They make exceptions where the defense can show significant problems with their cases and/or things about their client’s case which would make a standard disposition unfair and unjust. Effective plea negotiations, however, require a great deal of trust. Lawyers are only as good as their reputations and no law firm has a better reputation for professional competence, honesty, and trustworthiness than our firm.
While our office is located in Albany, we handle cases all over the state. We are the easiest law firm to check out because there are very few criminal defense lawyers who have not seen us in court, purchased our book, or attended our lectures. Pick up the phone and call a criminal defense firm in any location in New York State and ask what they think of us. If they handle DWI cases, they will know exactly who you are talking about and be able to tell you about us, our book, or the lectures they have attended.
If you would like to see what previous clients have had to say about us, visit AVVO.COM which is an attorney rating service that carries evaluations of our services by former clients.
Facing a criminal charge is a very frightening and depressing experience. You need lawyers that you can trust, and know that your lawyers are respected by the courts in which they appear and the prosecutors with whom they deal. You need to be able to reach them because the only way to deal with fear and apprehension is to have access to information. It is the unknown which is terrifying. You need to be able to pick up the phone and call your lawyer without feeling that you are “bothering” them. We spend hours of every day talking to clients on the phone. Telephone calls do not bother us. Talking to clients is one of the most important parts of our job. We can’t promise any client a specific result, but we can ease their fears with information as opposed to false assurances. We are available on our cell phones and our clients have the cell phone number of each attorney involved in their case. We work as a team and so your case will be discussed and reviewed by two or more lawyers as the case proceeds. We are constantly communicating with each other, making suggestions and coming up with ideas that will help us obtain a successful resolution of our cases. One of the best parts of our practice is our ability to workshop cases with each other and coming up with creative ideas to obtain the best results possible.
What we do is exciting, interesting and rewarding because we help people who are really in trouble and really need our help. We care about our clients and help people with substance abuse issues get the help they need or want. This also helps in negotiating with prosecutors and judges because they know that we are not just processing people through the criminal justice system. The prosecutors and judges that we deal with know our reputation in that regard. That tells them that we are doing our best to make sure that our clients never find themselves in this situation again.
You will not see any radio or television ads or billboards advertising our practice. The vast majority of our clients are referred to us by other clients, lawyers, and police officers who we have come up against in court. Our reputation for integrity and honest dealings make our firm one of the most trusted by prosecutors, judges and even police officers.
Normally, people want to avoid and wind up any criminal charges as soon as possible – and a criminal defense attorney is the best person to resort to for this purpose. Most people find the legal process difficult to grasp and proceeding with legal actions seems like an impossible task. Here is where the criminal attorneys come in.
It becomes their responsibility to explain the legal procedures and effects of every legal action that is to be taken along with fighting for their clients. These attorneys are the best means of strengthening oneself to proceed through legal action. A defense attorney also serves as a criminal trial legal representative as they take care of how the trial procedures should be conducted. So, in which situations would you need to hire a defense attorney?
The main responsibility of a defense attorney involves representing his/her client who is alleged with committing any sort of crime. The primary job is questioning all the significant witnesses, gathering all possible facts and evidence besides asking questions during court trial periods. A defense lawyer can settle the case out of court by negotiating with the prosecutors as well. By negotiating with the prosecutors out of the court with the help of a criminal defense attorney, the illegal charges may result in a reduced one with decreased penalties and a lesser period of sentence.
A criminal law attorney can make you understand the prospects of the court settlement and bargains. This way, you can decide whether you want to go for a bargain offer. Besides, an attorney can help you when you are accused of a crime in the following situations:
If you cannot afford to hire a top-of-the-layer criminal defense attorney who charges extremely high fees for their experiences and services, do not worry. Just invest a little time in carrying out research on online attorneys to find a lawyer as per your budget. Their websites provide comprehensive information on the fees and cases handled by them.
How do you know who’s the right private investigator for you? There is a difference between a good investigator and a bad one. The difference between the two is, they should work and operate their business professionally and charge the correct rates and not rip you off and get rubbish results. If you look on Google or directories you will see thousands of investigators who promise certain things, these sort of things they promise shouldn’t be promised as anything can happen when conducting surveillance, you don’t always get the luck you need and they may be a chance something will go wrong, this is what a good investigator and lawyer will tell you.
Should you ever find yourself suddenly in need of the services of a private investigator, you are bound to quickly realize that it is not so easy to find an individual or firm that is just right for your particular case. After all, there are many service providers out there who all look capable enough to get the job done.
By making an effort to find out some key information about the private investigators you are considering, you will find it much easier to confidently choose one.
1. Is your private investigator properly licensed and insured?
Most folks may not be fully aware of the long list of possible problems that they can easily run into by hiring an investigator who is not licensed. For instance, such a PI will not be able to testify on your behalf in a court of law. Even written reports from such investigators can end up doing more harm than good to your case because the investigator can easily be blocked as a credible witness even if the information they have collected qualifies to be classified as critical evidence. And remember that life has all kinds of unexpected twists and turns so that at the time you contract a PI, you may not think the matter will ever end up in court. But what if it does? Are you prepared to have your investment go down the drain because of the legal issues surrounding the investigator you hired? You should also make sure that the investigator you hire has adequate professional insurance. Some states require this in order to obtain a license, but ask to see proof of an up-to-date policy.
2. Does your investigator have the experience and expertise to handle your assignment?
You should always ask for the name and the private investigator license number of the person who will be handling your case. This can then be verified by checking their license on the state’s website. Most every state has this. It will tell when the person got his license. A person who has had a license for at least four years is usually someone who is serious about the profession. If the agency you call will not tell you the name and license number of the person who will be assigned your case prior to you signing a contract, this is a red flag indicating they are trying to hide something.
Ask questions about your attorney. Just because someone has prior law enforcement or military experience does not automatically mean they have much experience in covert investigations. Ask how your investigator learned to do surveillance and where they got their experience. The ideal investigator has done work for a large national private investigation company for several years in the past. These companies specialize exclusively in surveillance for workers comp/disability cases and are extremely busy so the investigator was probably assigned surveillance cases five or six days a week. The training and experience they got doing these are invaluable and can be used in all types of surveillance.
Also ask if they have any other training that might be of value, such as a college degree in a related field, or prior jobs related to investigating. This may show the commitment they have to the profession of private investigating.
3. Are you clear on how billing works?
Many clients may not understand the billing system used by the PI they have hired simply because it may differ from one investigator to the next. You should always expect to pay a retainer. Find out if you must refresh the retainer when the money is spent or if they will continue to work and bill you the final amount when the work is done. Make sure that you know whether you are paying “door-to-door” or if you are only paying for actual case time. Find out how they charge for mileage. It is extremely important to ask where your investigator is located as this can quickly add hundreds of dollars to your case if you are paying mileage and “door-to-door” charges. This can vary greatly from one investigator to another so make sure you are clear on this.
Remember that the hourly rate is not an indication of how good or experienced an investigator or his company is. It is merely an indication of how much overhead the person has or how much profit he is wanting to make from your case.
By simply asking and making the effort to understand all the small print related to billing, you can actually save yourself from misunderstanding later.
4. Do you have a written contract?
Incidentally, a detailed written contract can also help to clear lots of possible future misunderstandings or misconceptions. Make sure all the charges are clearly stated. Do not expect to find a guarantee in the contract of the results you are hoping to obtain. The investigator is being paid for his time and expertise. No one can guarantee results. Do not work with anyone who refuses to provide you with a written contract. This will protect both you and the investigator should there be any problems. Read it carefully and ask for an explanation should you find something that doesn’t sound right to you.
5. Are they active in any professional association within their field?
Belonging to a professional organization or association in one’s field and being active in it usually sends out a powerful message about an individual’s commitment to maintaining and even improving the industry standards in their area. This is an ideal test that will quickly tell you how professional the PI you are considering hiring is.
6. Are they high pressured or do they want you to make an informed decision?
Unfortunately, there are investigators or agencies who have high-pressure salesmen who insist you contract with them immediately or their price may go up if you wait. You may also be told that the price will be higher if it becomes a “rush case”. Most honest investigators will want you to make an informed decision. They also will not charge you extra if you have a case that needs to be done immediately. It is your money so don’t fall for stories or gimmicks from an investigator who is trying to get your business.
Author of Handling the DWI Case in New York
Considered a standard reference for the defense of Driving While Intoxicated cases. (Published by Thomson/West)
Peter Gerstenzang, Esq.
Gerstenzang, Sills, Cohn & Gerstenzang
210 Great Oaks Boulevard
Albany, New York 12203
Phone: (518) 456-6456
Fax: (518) 456-6056
Cell: (518) 441-7011