New York Criminal Lawyer Blog
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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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In New York State, especially in New York City, arrests for Second Degree Aggravated Harassment, New York Penal Law 240.30, are fairly routine. Routine doesn’t mean the crimes are taken lightly by the NYPD or the District Attorney of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Whenever there are threats of violence the NYPD will make the arrest and often let prosecutors figure out later what to do with the case. That is not to say the NYPD is not diligent, but all branches of law enforcement are overly cautious and seemingly would rather make an arrest that is later challenged or voided, then leave a threat of violence alone that ultimately festers into an actual act of violence. This line of thinking by law enforcement begs the following question. What is the legal standard that must be crossed for a threat to rise to the level of a valid arrest and prosecution? The following helps answer this question.

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Prosecutors don’t look to kindly upon computer hackers. Whether you are Anonymous, a kid in your parent’s office, a disgruntled employee, former worker stealing an employer’s proprietary code or algorithms as it relates to their business, or anything in between, there are a litany of crimes you could face in a New York State prosecution. Some of the most severe could land you in prison for many years while others may not carry the same level of punishment, but would likely decimate your future employment opportunities. This blog entry will address some of the New York hacking statutes (there is no formal penal code offense called “hacking”). For further information on these crimes, as well as the Federal Computer Crime and Cyber Crime statute of 18 United States Code 1030, go to CrottySaland.Com where there is easily digestible information on these offenses.

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Although not a firm rule, New York City Desk Appearance Tickets (commonly called a DAT or Appearance Ticket) are generally issued to individuals who have little or no prior arrest history and are charge with misdemeanor crimes. These crimes include many serious offenses – Criminal Possession of  a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 265.01), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (NY PL 220.03), Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (165.40), Assault in the Third Degree (NY PL 120.00) – and are punishable by as long as one year in jail upon conviction. Even if you never step into Central Booking or Rikers Island, a conviction for shoplifting, possession of cocaine, having a gravity knife or getting into a drunken fistfight can and likely will adversely impact your career, professional licensing or immigration status. Although there are numerous blog entries and extensive content on the CrottySaland.Com website that address these crimes, this entry will address what “Top Offense Charged” means and how it may impact your case.

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