Crimes involving elected and other public officials can be some of the most complex and highly charged cases in the criminal justice system. Whether the accused is a local Spring Valley, Rockland County mayor or trustee, a New York City judge, or a New York State Senator in Albany, these cases can attract the public eye (and ire) as well as the full focus of a District Attorney’s Office like no other. Generally speaking, public corruption refers to situations in which a government official demands, accepts, solicits or agrees to accept something of value in return for their influence or power. Public officials charged with public corruption crimes not only face the penalties associated with a conviction, such as state prison or probation, but also embarrassment, humiliation, the end of a career or removal from office. In fact, recent legislation can also strip them of their pensions. Having a New York criminal defense attorney who is experience with the unique implications and political dynamics of these kinds of prosecutions, as well as the distinctive issues often presented at a trial on these charges, is essential.
A law that without question has a good intent and goal, New York City’s Right of Way law, codified as Administrative Code 19-190, has seen its fair share of legal challenges by criminal defense lawyers throughout the City of New York. Although the law that has criminal sanctions does not apply to the State of New York, those drivers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens are within the law’s jurisdiction. A recent Appellate Term Decision from the Second Department did not ultimately address the constitutionality of NYC Admin. Code 19-190, but whether a bare minimum complaint reciting the statute with limited factors sufficiently and legally supports this non-New York Penal Law crime.
It may be on a non-violent crime, but an arrest for Criminal Mischief in New York can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. What should be of significant concern to anyone charged with a New York Penal Law Article 145 crime is how easily a Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.00, can morph into a Third Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.05.
What property or belongings of any significance exist in our lives these days that are worth less than $250. If your friend broke something that belongs to you in the course of an argument, is there anything worth less than $250 that would prompt you to call the police? A used iPhone 7 that is more than a year old runs around $400 on eBay. Moreover, is there anything of any importance that costs less than $250 to repair? What this means is that, in New York, almost anything a person intentionally breaks that doesn’t belong to them can result in a felony charge punishable by up to 4 years in state’s prison, even with no prior criminal record.
Orders or Protection are perhaps the most frequent basis for Criminal Contempt charges in New York. Such charges and criminal cases have become so routine, that the actual complaints charging a defendant with such an offense can become so pro forma as to become almost meaningless. However, the accusations in even the simplest, most routine criminal complaint are of critical importance to a New York Criminal Contempt arrest and case. One way in which a person can violate the terms of a typical Order of Protection is by going to the protected person’s home. This can even include standing outside the front door of the protected person’s apartment building. Irrespective of the context, it is possible that the protected person is not willing to cooperate with law enforcement, and did not want the defendant arrested in the first place. In that scenario, the prosecution will often attempt to rely on other witnesses to the crime, such as family, friends, bystanders or police officers. However, this can often create gaps and shortcomings in information and support for the allegations, which can manifest themselves in the criminal complaints themselves. This was precisely the situation presented to the trial Court in People v. Friedman, 48 Misc.3d 817 (Queens Co. Crim Ct. 2015).
More than most crimes in New York, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, New York Penal Law 260.10, is a nebulous and vague charge that leaves a great deal of discretion and interpretation in the hands of the prosecutor and the judge. The most commonly invoked section of the Endangering statute in New York is the allegation that the accused person knowingly acted “in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child.” Not only is this standard difficult to pin down, but it is seemingly subject to the disparate and constantly changing landscape of cultural norms, even between different areas of New York State. Modern psychology leaves no doubt that aggressive and repeated arguments between parents in the presence of a young child can lead to long-lasting psychological trauma, but is a District Attorney going to prosecute two parents criminally for fighting a lot? What about a parent who keeps marijuana for personal use in a desk drawer of their home office? What is enough to rise to level of acts that are likely to harm a child psychologically or “morally?”
The term “dangerous instrument” is used throughout the New York State Penal Law as an elements of certain criminal charges, typically violent felonies such as Assault in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 120.05(2), but for other misdemeanor crimes such as Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, New York Penal Law 265.01(2). From the context of the criminal statutes in which the term is used, it is easy to understand that the term “dangerous instrument” is basically referring to the use of a weapon. But what qualifies as a weapon and how is it different from a “dangerous instrument?” Not a complete analysis of the law nor a substitute for a consultation with your criminal lawyer, the following helps answers this question.
Eros.Com is likely one of the largest, most proficient and heavily trafficked website peddling independent and “enterprise” based escorts and other adult entertainers. Based on their own billing as the “Ultimate Guide to Escorts and Erotic Entertainment,” Eros.Com may not be a direct purveyor of prostitution, but the website facilitated thousands of alleged escorts in selling their companionship services to men and women from the metropolises of New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles to the less traveled cities of Denver, Portland and Charlotte. Whether each and every woman advertising on the website ultimately sold sex, friendship, or, for that matter, manipulated unwitting men to provide their personal information for more nefarious purposes such as blackmail, one may never know. However, now that Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Attorney’s Office have had the time to digest the data and materials secured before, during and after the execution of a search warrant or search warrants at Eros.Com’s Youngsville, North Carolina offices this past November, many an escort and john are rightfully frightened.
New York Penal Law 240.75 is a section of New York’s criminal law that is somewhat of an unknown in the non-legal community. There is much support behind the concept that if you repeatedly commit and are convicted of domestic violence crimes or family offenses, at some point an order of protection and some degree of incarceration in a local or county jail is not enough.
To combat this concern, New York State created the crime of Aggravated Family Offense pursuant to New York Penal Law 240.75. Whether your New York domestic violence lawyer advises you on this statute or you missed the opportunity and you are standing before a criminal court judge for sentencing, know that your exposure on this class “E” felony is quite serious. In fact, what was only a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail can no be a felony with a potential sentence of up to four years “upstate.” If you have a prior felony regardless of whether its violent, domestic or white collar and you were convicted of that offense in the prior ten years, because Aggravated Family Offenses are class “E” felonies, a conviction would not merely be as great as four years, but you would also face a mandatory one and a half to three years in prison. Regardless, living within the confines of the New York State or local county department of corrections for any period of time is a miserable way to tick away the days of your life.
Accused of strangling and slamming the complainant’s head into a radiator during a domestic violence dispute, a recent Crotty Saland PC client faced up to seven years in prison after being arrested for and charged with Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, and Second Degree Strangulation, New York Penal Law 121.12. Quite serious felony crimes in New York, the criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC had their hands full. Our client, who maintained his/her innocence, refuted the objectively serious allegations from the onset of his/her arrest. Hauled into an NYPD precinct, questioned by detectives and both booked and arraigned on these two felonies, the District Attorney’s Office asserted in the felony complaint that not only did our client strangle the complainant until he/she lost consciousness, but our client repeatedly slammed the complainant’s head into a radiator in the neighborhood of fifteen time, gouged at the alleged victim’s eyes and punched him/her in the nose. Not only did the complainant black out twice, but our client also allegedly brandished scissors while threatening to kill his/her domestic partner. Facing a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of seven years incarcerated if convicted of either PL 120.05 or PL 121.12, the New York domestic violence attorneys at Crotty Saland PC expected the worst at arraignment, but what seemed to be an objectively horrific incident if true, slowly evolved into a case that was far from what it seemed.
Tension between religious groups and ignorance about others’ religious beliefs can manifest its head in very ugly and illegal ways. Sometimes it is violence against individuals who share a different religion while other times the target of these attacks are the physical houses of worship – synagogues, churches, mosques, temples and other places for prayer. Regardless, New York State gives the police and District Attorneys the tools to protect people rightfully practicing their religion and their respective places for prayer. Whether punishable as misdemeanors or felonies, the following blog entry briefly identifies and discusses some of the chargeable offenses that one could face upon arrest for damaging or defacing a house of worship or obstructing those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion.