New York Criminal Lawyer Blog
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When I served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, my greatest achievement, selfishly or not, was securing a conviction after trial for Attempted Murder against a husband who had physically and emotionally abused his wife and children for years. From burning a son and repeatedly striking another child, his violent acts culminated when he repeatedly stabbed his wife after she turned down his sexual advances. Until that point, the wife, an immigrant without a full command of the English language, was hesitant to seek justice. While fortunately may not be the right term, on the night of this incident their pre-teen and fifteen year old children were home when their father went into a rage and began stabbing their mother with a knife he had been using to peal an apple. Not merely stabbing her once, the defendant stabbed the mother of his children repeatedly until the blade broke off in her shoulder and their fifteen year old son broke down the bedroom door with a hammer.

On many fronts, this conviction for Attempted Murder and the twenty five year sentence was gratifying. The bond and trust developed with the victims, providing them the protection they deserved, and bringing closure to a horrific time in their lives was rewarding. Why do I share this so many years later? I do so because despite the misconceptions that only prosecutors wear the “white hat”, criminal defense attorneys do so as well. Facing the same potential sentence of up to twenty five years in prison, a client of Crotty Saland PC was also brought closure as a victim even though he was charged with many crimes including Kidnapping in the Second Degree as opposed to being the accuser. After a lengthy trial, this innocent man was exonerated and found not guilty by a jury of his peers. Not due to a legal technicality, his innocence was “proven” because of my effort to provide justice to my client in the face of a fabricated story shrouded in what appeared to be significant and damning evidence. Through developing our own evidence and challenging the prosecution’s, and advocacy before and during trial, closure was seized. The following his this client’s review of our services as criminal defense attorneys and lawyers:

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Yes, you can be arrested by the NYPD in New York City for Loitering. In fact, if you’re loitering in Manhattan, Yonkers, Brooklyn, White Plains, New City or Queens, the crime is still the same. Codified in the New York Penal Law under sections 240.35, 240.36 and 240.37. The first of these offenses is a violation while the latter two are misdemeanors. This particular blog entry will address the violation of New York Penal Law 240.35. However, we will also address the more serious criminal charges of PL 240.36 and 240.37 which you are likely to receive a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) should you have no prior criminal history and you are compliant with the arresting officers.

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Don’t count on the TSA or your airline – Delta, JetBlue, American, United – to confirm whether or not the firearm you traveled with to New York from Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia or any other state in the Union is legal in New York. No official airline or TSA website will provide you that information and discuss the extent New York’s laws are in direct conflict with the Second Amendment or how your permit, license or registration in Texas, Maryland or California is not valid here. For that matter, the ticket agent, online booking website, the TSA or your airline will not explain that possessing the loaded firearm (loaded doesn’t require ammunition in the pistol or revolver) in New York without the proper permit is by default a class “C” violent felony punishable by a minimum term of three and one half years incarceration pursuant to Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Firearm (Penal Law 265.03). Certainly, you can follow the advice listed on the TSA website at your own peril. To some extent it is accurate. That is, wherever you may be flying to and from the regulations are the same. You must head to the ticket counter, have the unloaded firearm in a locked hard sided case, slap a sticker or a tag on that case, declare the firearm and ensure that no parts of the firearm are inadvertently taken with you as a carry-on onto the airplane. But that is where the TSA’s usefulness and value ends. Flying into JFK or LaGuardia (or for that matter any other airport) is one thing, but after checking the firearm at the ticket counter on your way home from one of these Queens County airports, you are going to be personally escorted to the “tombs” of Queens County Central Booking on your way to your arraignment on felony weapon charges at Queen County Criminal Court. A layover is one thing…but this is no what you expected.

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Some times the best legal advice a criminal lawyer can give is not legal advice at all. In fact, it can be more parental than lawyer-like. Unfortunately, just as we don’t always listen to our parents we don’t always listen to our criminal defense attorneys either. With that little life lesson behind us, try listening to this. The best way to avoid an arrest or conviction for a New York Stalking crime, whether or not it is one of the two misdemeanor Stalking offenses of Stalking in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 120.45) or Stalking in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 120.50), is to steer clear of following, threatening or harassing other people. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but what if you are arrested for merely following a person without any allegations of physical or verbal threats? Is that sufficient grounds for the prosecution to sustain a viable complaint for Fourth Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.45? The following blog entry will address this very question.

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Although the law does not provide for it, there is an objective difference between an possessing an unlicensed and unregistered loaded firearm and possessing an unlicensed and unregistered loaded firearm. Wait. What? In New York State, if you possess a loaded firearm outside your home or place of business and you are not registered or licensed to possess it, then you are guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 265.03. While there different provisions and subsections relating to specified conduct, the “catchall” language often prosecuted by District Attorneys throughout New York City is PL 265.03(3). More of a strict liability crime, a murderous, violent or criminal intent to harm, menace or threaten another person is not required. Merely, if you knowingly possess that firearm and it is loaded, a conviction will land you in prison for a minimum of three and one half years whether you are a physician, steel worker, or a stay-at-home mother of three. So, why do I say that there is an objective difference between an possessing an unlicensed and unregistered loaded firearm and possessing an unlicensed and unregistered loaded firearm? Simply, from a mitigation perspective, if you are toting around a loaded firearm with a bullet in the chamber while walking the streets of New York as opposed to following TSA procedures at LaGuardia or JFK Airport and declaring your otherwise legally registered or licensed firearm with the airline while its secured and broken down (ammunition not inside the firearm) in a hard sided case, there should be a vast difference. Fortunately for a recent client of Crotty Saland PC, our New York criminal lawyers were able to convince prosecutors of just that and were not merely successful in reducing the Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor or even a violation, but to an ultimate dismissal if our client does not get rearrested over the next six months.

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Heroin. Cocaine. Ecstasy. Adderall. Molly. MDMA. New York’s list is long and vast. If you possess certain drugs, narcotics and controlled substances (including certain prescription drugs that you are not prescribed by a doctor), you can face a wide variety of crimes found in New York Penal Law Article 220. Even if you did not have the intent to sell those drugs (New York Penal Law 220.16(1) or New York Penal Law 220.06(1)) or actually sell the drugs (New York Penal Law 220.39(1) or New York Penal Law 220.31), possession for personal use is still a crime. New York Penal Law 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, is the catch all “personal use” offense in New York State whereby the police and the District Attorney can charge you with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail for possessing small amounts of a controlled substance.

In the above scenarios, whether you find yourself arrested and hauled into Manhattan Central Booking or are given a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket in Brooklyn, the law actually permits an officer with the NYPD to claim the substance in your possession is a narcotic or controlled substance without ever testing the substance to confirm its an illegal drug. That is right, if the officer can examine the white powder, pill or anything else and claim his experience and training tells him it is a drug, then at the preliminary stage he has just bought you at least a temporary rap sheet, arrest, criminal complaint and date with the court for an arraignment on PL 220.03. The question posed in this blog is whether the same can be said for amounts that are significantly smaller and not so clear to the eye.

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Sometimes bad things happen to good people. When that bad thing is being accused of a crime, arrested, hauled into a precinct, fingerprinted, and thrown before a judge, the consequences to your mental state, career and outlook on life can be devastating. If a misdemeanor accusation is horrendous, a felony arrest is exponentially worse. It doesn’t matter if this happens to you in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester, or any city, county or municipality in New York State (or elsewhere for that matter). Sadly, this exact scenario happened to a Crotty Saland PC client after our client was charged with numerous crimes including felony Second Degree Assault (New York Penal Law 120.05(1)), Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting (Vehicle and Traffic Law 600), Second Degree Reckless Endangerment (New York Penal Law 120.20) and other offenses. It was alleged that our client, a college instructor and professional, struck the complainant’s car at a stop light and drove off through the following red light. After catching up to our client, it was claimed by the District Attorney’s Office that there was a second accident between the vehicles driven by the parties. Finally, after pulling into a parking lot, the complainants’ (a passenger and driver) alleged that after a brief conversation outside the vehicles our client got back into the car, drove at one of the complainants and struck her. This complainant alleged that our client then drove off with her on the hood through the parking lot until she fell off. At that time, the complainant contended she suffered and injury to her nose area requiring multiple stitches. Despite these claims, the severity of the arrest and nature or the crimes, our client stood firm and adamantly denied that the events of the evening in question occurred as set forth by the prosecution and complainants. After much hard work from our criminal defense attorneys, our client’s strength and perseverance was rewarded with a non-criminal resolution.

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While nobody is asserting that financial services professionals, investment advisers, registered representatives or others regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) are more prone to using, selling or possessing drugs, the reality is that an arrest in New York City or elsewhere for possession of cocaine, heroin, molly, MDMA, or even some prescription drugs can have dire consequences. Sale of these drugs (there need not be money exchanged) can magnify an arrest to a felony regardless of the amount. Simply, if you have a Series 3, Series 6, Series 7, Series 10, Series 11, Series 63, Series 65, Series 66, Series 79, Series 86 or any other securities license, your exposure is more than merely what you will face in a courtroom. Even when you close out your case there may be far reaching implications to your career. Although this blog entry will address the potential crimes and touch on the U4 reporting requirements, in no way is this article a substitute for a consultation with and the retention of a NY criminal defense attorney or criminal defense lawyer. Instead, the content contained here should solely be used as a launch pad to put yourself in the right place and to ask the right questions from your own counsel.

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What is Molly? Why do the police arrest you in New York for even the smallest amount? Why do prosecutors care if you have some drugs for “personal use”? Is the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, or for that matter any District Attorney’s Office in New York City or a neighboring county, going to waste time and money prosecuting a first time offender for simple drug possession? Simply, the answer to this last question is “yes” and the answers to the prior questions should be equally clear. Whether you are given a Desk Appearance Ticket or you find yourself locked up waiting overnight to see a judge in criminal court the following morning, possession or sale of Molly, MDMA and Ecstasy is without a doubt a serious crime in New York. Certainly, possession of a one or two tablets or capsules recovered from your car or your pocket at a concert or club is a not as serious as having ten, twenty or thirty pills of Molly, but both are crimes. Likewise, possession of a couple tablets of Ecstasy is no where nearly as significant criminally when compared to the sale of even a single capsule of MDMA. The latter is a felony out of the gate. There is no passing “Go”. You are going directly to jail.

So, what are the crimes in New York that one will face upon arrest for possessing or selling MDMA, Molly or Ecstasy? Will you merely get a slap on the wrist? Can a misdemeanor or felony “stick”? Are there any consequences beyond your criminal exposure?

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There are many elements to an Endangering the Welfare of a Child crime in New York. In fact, the crime of New York Penal Law 260.10 has been addressed, examined and analyzed with regularity on this blog. Sometimes the issue revolves around the intentional conduct of the accused or how long it is acceptable to leave a child alone. Other times the issue involves criminal conduct in the presence of a child even if the child is not fully aware or aware of the criminal actions. This particular blog will examine a less exciting issue (if that term is appropriate) and address from a legal perspective whether the failure of the prosecution to identify the age of a child on the face of an accusatory instrument will doom the charging document and ultimately require its dismissal.

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