Can I get my misdemeanor conviction sealed from years ago? Can I get my criminal record for a felony expunged? Fortunately, within reason, both New York sealing attorneys and criminal lawyers familiar with expungement rules in New York can now tell those who have paid their dues to society for their criminal past can hold their heads up high and look towards a bright future. While New York will not expunge your criminal record regardless of the nature of your past offenses or crimes, commencing in October 2017, the New York State legislature has now given judges the ability, should they choose to exercise their legal right, to seal up to two prior criminal convictions. Yes, you read that right. In fact, not only can the court seal your criminal cases, but employers in most cases will even be forbidden to make inquiries about your sealed past.
The old adage of “no news is good news” does not hold water when it comes to New York’s arcane and outdated criminal record expungement and sealing laws. Much to the frustration of many criminal defense attorneys who have witnessed firsthand good people getting caught up in the criminal justice system, the answer to a client’s request about the sealing and expungement of their criminal past was always the same (“was” being the relevant word). In fact, unlike many states, New York doesn’t expunge criminal records whether your conviction stemmed from a misdemeanor Third Degree Assault arrest as a twenty year old college student in Buffalo or White Plains or from a felony Fourth Degree Grand Larceny conviction you were shackled with after making an epic mistake charging $2,500 worth of personal items on the company credit card of your employer in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Whether you have long since paid for your drug crime or shown that you are an asset to society despite your conviction for a forgery related offense, New York legislators have been unsympathetic to your plight up until now. Fortunately, however, your future is about to change and drastically so.
New York City has good reason to enact laws to protect is residents, commuters and tourists. On any given day there are millions of people walking the streets and thousands of cars driving up and down the avenues. However, merely because the intent of the City Council is genuine does not mean that the laws it passes are constitutional, vague, legal or simply “OK.” An example of this is found in NYC Administrative Code 19-190. This “Right of Way” or “Failure to Yield” law has a great purpose, but its application and its legal foundation may have issues. At the time of this blog the Court of Appeals has not weighed in on the issues, but many New York City courts and judges, including those in Manhattan and Queens, have addresses what appears to be some glaring problems. While this blog entry by no means addresses the decision of the highest court in New York as no review has occurred, the following is recent decision from Queens County tied to the dismissal of AC 19-190.
Any attorney who claims that white collar crimes are not as serious as those involving violence is a lawyer who likely has neither the knowledge nor experience how thefts, larcenies, frauds and other schemes are investigated and prosecuted in New York City or elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. While a theft crime for Embezzlement, Extortion, or another related offense may not require mandatory prison and incarceration upon conviction in most circumstances for first time offenders, the practical reality is that a sentence “upstate” is far from atypical. Even those who don’t face a sentence of this magnitude recognize that a felony conviction will forever tarnish their name, follow them throughout their lives and careers, and end never be expunged. Want to work in the financial sector, public sector, as a teacher, lawyer, physician, accountant, nurse or merely have a professional career? It will be a long time before you ever, if you can, run away from a conviction. Fortunately for a recent Crotty Saland PC client charged with Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, New York Penal Law 165.45(1), and Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(4), an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will remove one of the most horrific experiences of our client’s life within six months.
There is no better feeling than vindicating or exonerating a client who comes to you passionately asserting that the crime he or she is accused of is a crime that he or she did not commit. Yes, a complainant can make an allegation, but as we all know assertions made by one party are not always true. In most cases, because the police were not at the scene of an incident when you committed an alleged crime, the police officer or detective has to make a decision as to whether or not there is probable cause to make an arrest. Sometimes right in their determination and sometimes wrong, unfortunately for those who fall into the latter category of arrests, a pending criminal case can, and often does, disrupt your life as the matter winds through the New York City or other courts from arraignment to resolution. For a recent client defended by the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC, what started off as a horrific evening in jail in Manhattan’s infamous “Tombs” waiting to see a judge, ended in the best possible manner. The District Attorney rightfully dismissed the crimes of Third Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.00, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing Circulation, New York Penal Law 121.11, Third Degree Menacing, New York Penal Law 120.15, and other offenses.
My case was dismissed in New York criminal court. Does that mean the record is expunged? I received an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), is that also considered an actual dismissal? What happens to my criminal record? What about my fingerprints? Even though I was charged with a crime, how do I get my record wiped clean and my fingerprints out of the system and destroyed?
The above questions are all reasonable questions that are often asked to New York criminal lawyers, but not always answered in the most simple way. In fact, there are multiple answers to these questions and issues. Whether you were initially charged with and arrested for a felony Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor Assault in the Third Degree, issued a Desk Appearance Ticket in Manhattan or you were indicted in Brooklyn, there really is no engagement in New York State. That’s correct. Other states may have a process to expunge criminal convictions, but New York is not one of them. There is, however, a means by which you – a person accused of a crime and later exonerated, found not guilty, acquitted or merely the rightful recipient of a dismissal – can clean up the records of your arrest including those related to fingerprints so that your personal and professional exposure of a criminal past does not exist.
Although not exclusive to drug and marijuana crimes, otherwise fairly simple offenses such as Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Marihuana, New York Penal Law 221.10, are often complicated when the police not only arrest a person for possessing heroin, molly, MDMA, adderall, oxy, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana or any other drug, but also charge that person with an additional crime when he or she attempts to hide or dispose it before the police can get their respective hands on controlled substance. In these circumstances the NYPD or other local police department often charges the accused not only with the PL 220.03 or PL 221.10, for example, but also with either Tampering with Physical Evidence or Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class “E” felony and class “A” misdemeanor respectively. While the latter offense, New York Penal Law 215.40, is punishable by as much as four years in prison, an attempt to commit the same crime is “only” punishable by up to one year in jail.
Because both the police and prosecutors often charge a variation of PL 215.40 whether by Desk Appearance Ticket or Central Booking processing, a charge of Tampering with Physical Evidence is far from atypical. However, an arrest and charge does not automatically equate to proof beyond a reasonable doubt if at all. This blog entry will address the fairly common scenario where an accused merely throws to the ground, drops or discards the physical evidence in question and whether that rises to the level of either a completed or attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence crime.
You are waiting in line at JFK or LaGuardia to check your bags and return home to Texas, Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia or any other state in the Union. Thinking nothing of it, you declare your firearm to the Delta, JetBlue, American or other airline agent. Not alarmed in the slightest, the agent tells you to wait…and you do just that. Shortly thereafter, police officers with the Port Authority Police Department approach you. Now becoming slightly more alarmed, if you are reading this blog entry you know exactly what happens next.
Don’t shoplift or don’t get caught may be the best advice anyone – criminal lawyer or not – can give to someone who plans on shoplifting or even wants that angel on his or her shoulder when that spur of the moment pang kicks in. While the former is a far better choice, the reality of the world is that many people do shoplift and countless numbers of those people get arrested and prosecuted for crimes. Whether you are a foreign national with an H-1B or an F-1 visa, a financial services provider regulated by FINRA, an accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, bartender, construction worker, student or stay-at-home-mom, the charges you will likely face are the same. Certainly, destroying merchandise by tearing off security devices, changing tags, or being part of a larger crew may impact the ultimate charges you face or tenacity of the District Attorney’s Office in pursuing those charges, but assuming the value of the items stolen is $1,000 or less then the two likely crimes are Petit Larceny, NY PL 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, NY PL 165.40. This blog entry will address these potential shoplifting offenses and arrests at both The Westchester and Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York.
I have drafted many blog entries and as a New York criminal defense lawyer represented many clients accused of violating New York Penal Law 265.01, Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon. Usually the crime involves either a resident of New York or someone visiting from outside New York City who is unfamiliar with the strict standards of New York crimes involving knives. The law is superficially clear in its application even if it is not known to most New Yorkers. NY PL 265.01(1) codifies the class “A” misdemeanor of knowingly possessing a knife that is either a gravity knife or a switchblade knife. No, this entry will not dwell on the often overreaching impact the crime has on people who use gravity knives at work, purchased them at hardware stores or Amazon.Com, or have no criminal history and completely lacked any nefarious intent. Instead, this entry will review the less common charge of NY PL 265.01(2).