New York Penal Law 265.01(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, delineates the type of weapons that are per se, aka, automatically, weapons in New York based on the law no matter how you intended on using them. If you knowingly possess the weapon, then you are guilty. No, you are not merely walking into a courtroom with your criminal lawyer and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor crime that is accompanied by a sentence of up to one year in jail, but you are guilty barring certain defenses, such as challenging the probable cause for your arrest and how you were searched. This is because there is a strict liability standard at trial assuming the prosecution proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Looking at it slightly differently, you always have the ability to challenge an arrest on legal, factual, evidentiary, and mitigation grounds, but without any defense, a jury or judge can find you guilty if the People meet their burden.

Putting aside this strict liability standard and whether or not the NYPD and District Attorney should be prosecuting honest, hard working, regular people who legally purchase one of these gravity knifes at Home Depot, Amazon, a local sporting goods store or any other retailer having no reason to believe that in New York it is a crime to possess such a “weapon,” other types of blades and objects can be considered dangerous instruments and weapons depending on the matter they are possessed or used. The statutory authority to prosecute these crimes is also Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, but is found in New York Penal Law 265.01(2). This entry will address a recent court decision examining the legal sufficiency of a PL 265.01(2) arrest and prosecution in connection to the possession of a box cutter.

Continue reading

TopBlogJeremy Saland and Elizabeth Crotty, founding partners at the New York criminal defense firm Crotty Saland PC, are excited to announce that their New York Criminal Lawyer Blog finished as the top criminal law blog in the nation after the Expert Institute closed its polls and tallied all its votes. Competing against more than 500 blogs where north of 30,000 readers cast their votes for the best legal and top lawyer blogs, the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog did not merely compete, but took home this highest honor of  “Best Criminal Law Blog.” Outpacing multiple dozens of law related blogs (or blawgs), the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog ranked as the best criminal defense blog both in New York and across the entire United States as per readers’ votes. Not stopping there, the blog reached as high as eighth overall across all categories during the top blog competition. Continue reading

Whether you are a high school teacher, elementary school nurse, administrative staff or a paraprofessional, if you are employed by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) an arrest and prosecution raises numerous flags in both the criminal court and with the City of New York. Simply, any arrest –  misdemeanor or felony, through a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or being hauled before a judge in criminal court – involves numerous moving pieces that you must address to preserve your career. Certainly, any arrest for any person is compromising. A shoplifting arrest in Manhattan where you are given a DAT for PL 155.25 or PL 165.40, a cocaine or other drug possession charging PL 220.03 in Brooklyn or even a turnstile jump or failure to pay a cab resulting in an arrest for PL 165.15 in Queens may not seem to be the most serious crime in the spectrum of New York City prosecutions, but to a DOE teacher or other employee, the concerns are real. Again, any arrest is compromising, but even if there is a limited likelihood for incarceration and you are not charged with an Assault, Grand Larceny or DWI, there are steps you must take in addition to those you are pursuing before the criminal court where you and your criminal defense attorney are fighting the allegations. To start, you should examine and review Chancellor’s Regulation C-105 that dictates the policy and management for arrests involving DOE employees.

Continue reading

I’ve been arrested for Second Degree Criminal Contempt. I don’t understand why I am being prosecuted for New York Penal Law 215.50. How can the police arrest me or the DA prosecute me without naming the victim or protected party? While I may have posed those questions as a New York criminal defense attorney and not an accused, they are quite reasonable ones to ask. After all, if the complaint against you is not legally sufficient regardless if you’re charged with NY PL 215.50 or any other crime, then ultimately your criminal defense lawyer will likely file a motion to dismiss or seek the dismissal of your criminal case on some other procedural grounds. Generally speaking, however, one of the common difficulties securing a dismissal of a Second Degree Criminal Contempt arrest and charge is that even where a victim is not compliant either a third party or other evidence can corroborate there was contact in violation of a court order. This evidence can come from a friend who observed a defendant having contact with a victim or even text messages or phone records reflecting the same. After addressing the crime of PL 215.50, the purpose of this particular blog entry is to provide an example of an insufficient criminal complaint where conclusions by the NYPD did not satisfy the burden that prosecutors are required to reach.

Continue reading

While I am not in possession of any statistics, there is little doubt that over my years as a Manhattan prosecutors and criminal defense attorney, a significant amount of crimes involving New York Penal Law 170.20 and New York Penal Law 170.25 relate to some form of a fake identification or ID. Sometimes these arrests involve large scale rings where fake passports, drivers licenses and other IDs are created for nefarious reasons to perpetrate greater frauds involving credit card scams, identity theft related crimes or other schemes. Although still criminal, other times arrests merely involve college and high school aged kids under 21 who are looking to get into a bar, club or other event, but are under 21 years of age. On their respective faces, no matter what your purpose, as long as you have the intent to defraud, possessing a fake passport, drivers license or other fraudulent state or federally issued identification is a felony. Yes, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is a Felony. If there is any good news, many times where the accused is clearly a “kid” with a fake identification at a bar or similar scenario, the NYPD at least will issue a Desk Appearance Ticket for the misdemeanor offense of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. Whether you are issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or you are held in jail to see a judge for your arraignment, the degree or level of the crime does not change.

Now that you have spent thirty seconds to a minute reading about fake ID arrests in New York, if you want more information on these crimes I encourage you to read through this blog or on the websites below. This entry, however, will deal with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument but address the ease by which prosecutors and police can establish the minimum threshold necessary to draft a viable and legally sufficient complaint. Why does this entry address legal sufficiency? The answer is that before you pocket your fake ID or any fraudulent instrument you should be fully aware the ease by which the District Attorney can prosecute you with a minimal degree of evidence. If nothing else, you have now been warned.

Continue reading

While there may be some people on the extreme side of the Second Amendment that believe there should be zero regulation in any capacity of firearm possession and use by our government, it is likely most people agree that the laws of New York and other states serve a significant purpose and are of great value to our safety. Similarly, the New York State legislature codified crimes as they relate to certain knives and other objects they deemed “weapons” worthy of criminal prosecution by their mere possession. Again, the purpose is noble and clear. Neither a judge nor a criminal lawyer, or for that matter a prosecutor, needs to tell you that knives and firearms in the hands of wrongdoers or those who seek to perpetrate crimes demands our collective attention. That said, however, countless visitors to New York City and residents of New York and other regions of the state are arrested, prosecuted, or indicted for violations of Article 265 of the New York Penal Law when they had zero reason to believe or know the possession of their “weapon” constituted a misdemeanor or felony in New York State. This blog entry will not address legally owned firearms transported by out of state residents through LaGuardia or JKF Airports presumably pursuant to TSA guidelines in violation of New York Penal Law 265.03, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, but crimes involving certain knives that are defacto violations of New York Penal Law 265.01(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon. Continue reading

Endangering the Welfare of a Child, New York Penal Law 260.10, is not only an embarrassing  crime to face, but one that by its nature gets the attention of judges, prosecutors and child protection agencies such as Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Administration for Child Services (ACS). Domestic in nature when the child is your own or related to you, criminal courts and family courts can both get involved in the process where exposure on this misdemeanor is as great as one year in jail and other bodies can find that you were negligent with or maltreated the child. It is one thing for a neighbor or friend to question your parenting style or claim you are bad parent, but its another when a court finds you legally responsible or, better termed, irresponsible. With these concerns in mind, this blog entry will briefly assess PL 260.10(1) arrests involving Endangering the Welfare of a Child where the child in question is left “home alone.”

Continue reading

Years ago, when a detective or police officer signed off on a criminal court or misdemeanor complaint alleging misdemeanor drug or marijuana possession, PL 220.03 and PL 221.10 respectively, the law mandated that an Assistant District Attorney also secure a laboratory analysis or field test of the substance to proceed on that complaint so it become a legally sufficient information. In practical terms, if prosecutors failed to obtain a lab or field test, then ultimately the court would be required to dismiss the drug or marijuana possession charges against a defendant. Whether you agree that this was a necessity or not, criminal defense attorneys routinely used this law in the defense and exoneration of clients. Just as time stands still for no one, the law changes, shrinks, grows and adapts too. Simply, with some level of corroboration beyond a conclusion as to training and experience in the identification of drugs, controlled substances, narcotics and related “things” such as heroin, Ecstasy, cocaine, Xanax and marijuana, police officers can swear out complaints without a chemical test (it is ultimately needed in the event there is a trial). This became the “new” law that governed prosecutions after the Court of Appeals decision in People v. Kalin, 12 NY3d 225, 229 (2009).

The following blog entry addresses Kalin and the “training and experience” language not in the specific context of a drug arrest, but the possession of K2 in violation of Promoting Prison Contraband in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 205.20(1). Although not dealing with the crime of Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance or Criminal Possession of Marijuana, People v. Enelus, 2016 NY Slip Op 51093  (NY City Crim Ct. 2016) has real value to cases involving these crimes because it examines the sufficiency of language contained in a criminal court complaint and information that enables or prevents a District Attorney from prosecuting a drug related crime at the initial pleading stage.

Continue reading

Its the same two nights every year throughout New York State. Mischief Night followed by the main event, Halloween. For preteens in costumes of all shapes and sizes, Halloween is about trick-or-treating and scarfing down way too much candy. For parents of little boys and girls, it is about dressing up their children for their own gratification and pleasure. For high schoolers, teenagers and college aged men and women, Mischief and Halloween nights are potentially a lot more than costumes and candy. In fact, throwing an egg at a car, spray painting a street sign, or knocking over that little yellow scooter that has always annoyed you because it managed to squeeze into the smallest parking spot on your crowded Manhattan or Brooklyn street can land you in jail facing a misdemeanor or felony crime.

What says you?! When did fun become criminal? Better ask this question now instead of getting an answer from your criminal defense attorney as you await arraignment in a New York City courtroom or a courthouse in a neighboring suburban municipality. The short answer is as follows: If you damage another person’s property, even in the most nominal way, you can face arrest in New York for Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree. Cause at least $250 in damage? You will be wishing you get a bag of pennies instead of candy because you momentary stupidity could result in your arrest for Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, a felony. This blog entry will briefly address why you should leave the Criminal Mischief out of Mischief Night and Halloween unless, of course, you have a penchant for facing criminal charges and paying money for a criminal lawyer to get you out of jail or the hot water of a witch’s cauldron.

Continue reading

Robbery is one of the most serious crimes in the New York Penal Law. Criminal defense attorneys in New York see Robbery crimes come in a variety of different scenarios and allegations. Sometimes a weapon is used such as a firearm or a knife while other times a victim suffers some form of a physical or serious physical injury. Depending on whether or not there is an injury and even if multiple robbers are involved, the crime of Robbery can elevate from Robbery in the Third Degree to Robbery in the Second Degree or Robbery in the First Degree. The consequences are quite serious for an accused because a Third Degree Robbery conviction for PL 160.05 is not a violent crime under the New York Penal Law and does not carry a mandatory term of prison for a first time offender. Second Degree Robbery and First Degree Robbery, pursuant to PL 160.10 and PL 160.15 respectively, are mandatory minimum crimes with sentences starting at three and one half and five years in prison.

The goal of this blog entry is not to dissect and analyze the differences between New York’s Robbery statutes, but to examine the threshold of physical force that must be breached for a crime to go from one of a simple non-violent larceny to a more grave Robbery offense.

Continue reading