Based on the facts that you have described, you have been charged with a misdemeanor. In relation to the Buffalo Police not putting you in handcuffs, this point is not relevant. However, since you were not arrested and processed, the Court may require you to be fingerprinted and processed after appearing in Court. When you go to court it is best to only bring your license.
As far as seriousness is concerned, if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in New York, it will show up on background checks, which will negatively impact work opportunities and anything else which requires a background check. If you are not a US citizen, there will be immigration consequences as well. In New York State, a misdemeanor conviction will make you non-admissible.
As far as whether you need a lawyer, because you were charged with a misdemeanor, the court will most likely order you have an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney either from the public defenders office or from the assigned counsel program. If you cannot afford a Criminal Defense Attorney in Buffalo, you must go through the local process to determine if you qualify for indigent counsel.
For any more questions, contact a criminal defense attorney buffalo ny today.