Little did I know that after prosecuting three men for blackmailing former NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony all the way back in 2004-2006 during my days as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, that my experience leading that investigation into Grand Larceny by Extortion would become the catalyst to develop a niche practice representing Extortion, Blackmail, Sextortion, Stalking, Harassment, and Revenge Porn, victims. Whether as a “fixer” handling cases outside the criminal justice system due to a client’s desire to keep matters private and from the public eye, and always within the four corners of the law, or presenting our cases “pre-packaged” to prosecutors leading to an indictment and even incarceration, having the knowledge and legal foundation to pursue these matters discretely has provided both emotional and financial relief to literally dozens upon dozens of clients over the years. In fact, in the past week and a half alone I have assisted three individuals, two of whom collectively paid out north of $60,000.00 to their extorters before contacting me, and another who, with his parents, reached out to Saland Law, PC before his life went sideways.
While everyone is both entitled and deserving of the presumption of innocence, when a man is charged with Sex Abuse and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, the assumption is that he did something terribly wrong. When the accuser is a 13-year-old girl, this belief is compounded, and the overwhelming majority of people will conclude he must be guilty. Why? Because there is no reason a young girl – or anyone – would ever make up such a lie, of course. Unfortunately for a recent client of Saland Law PC’s criminal defense attorneys, despite his unwavering assertion that he did not abuse his girlfriend’s daughter, it took a trial by his peers for his voice to be heard. Fortunately, however, after a nearly two-week trial where prosecutors accused our client of rubbing the young girl’s buttocks and attempting to penetrate her vaginally with his fingers, that same jury rendered a verdict of not guilty on all counts. As much as I would like to say my hard work and trial skills won the day, and that was no doubt a part, sometimes it is not an experienced criminal lawyer who enables a client to escape responsibility for his or her criminal conduct. Instead, an acquittal can simply be a just resolution on the facts and evidence, and exoneration of an innocent person wrongfully accused of a heinous crime.
Over the past few weeks, the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC successfully advocated for clients in both NYC’s Criminal and Family Courts to obtain dismissals for Attempted Extortion and Aggravated Harassment respectively, and against the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) to avoid the arrest of an autistic young man for Forcible Touching in another. An easy task it was not, but the resolutions were just dispositions welcomed by our clients and a continuation of similar successes many Saland Law PC clients have enjoyed during the past months and years.
Maybe you stole a handful of COVID-19 vaccine cards when you got your Moderna shot. Maybe you made some fake vaccination cards and created a totally fraudulent one that looks like the real deal when you got your first and only Pfizer injection. You don’t need a criminal defense attorney to brainstorm the countless ways you could make a few dollars selling your wares or how you could use one of these counterfeit vaccination documents to satisfy an employer’s mandate, gain entrance into some type of venue, or demonstrate your “jab” status wherever it may be required. For that matter, if you want to dupe the State of New York and get yourself an Excelsior pass based on a Johnson and Johnson vaccine you never received, there is no doubt a way to handle that too. The reality, however, is if you get arrested in New York City’s Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island, or the police charge you in Westchester’s White Plains, Rockland’s New City, or anywhere from Putnam to Dutchess and beyond for a counterfeit COVID vaccination card, you should expect that the local District Attorney is going to take the matter quite seriously. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and use the ole’ Google and see for yourself.
New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, aka, the MRTA, ushered in a new era for the legalization of marijuana (previously codified as “marihuana”). What it did not do, however, was create a carte blanche permission slip for every resident of or visitor to New York City, or one of its surrounding suburban municipalities such as those dotting Westchester County, to unfettered cannabis possession or sale. In fact, it established a new article of the Penal Law that practically supplants marijuana’s old Penal Law Article 221. With the codification of Penal Law Article 222, District Attorneys will now prosecute, and criminal lawyers defend, sections 222.25, 222.30, 222.35, 222.40, 222.45, 222.50, 222.55, 222.60, and 222.65. Sound like a lot? Well, from non-criminal violations to life alteringly grave felony offenses, it certainly has the potential to be quite significant even if not on par with some of the more serious controlled substance and prescription medication crimes.
When the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, becomes the law of New York State, the legalization of marijuana, or marihuana as previously written in the Penal Law, will usher in many changes to the criminal law. From establishing the New York State Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management, to memorializing who and how one can lawfully possess, plant, and sell, cannabis, the MRTA will set the course for the future all things cannabis. In terms of the criminal law, as Article 221 is reduced to a shell of its former self and is somewhat replaced by the new Penal Law Article 222, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and both residents in and visitors to the Empire State will find themselves under the thumb of a new code criminalizing the illegal possession and sale of cannabis while also setting the parameters for the lawful production and distribution of the same. Before addressing these new crimes, however, it is critical to first have a basic working knowledge of some concepts and definitions found in the law.
Whether you believe New York Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, aka, the “Police Shield Law”, was necessary to protect police officers, corrections officers, and firefighters from misuse of their personnel information or you supported the statute’s repeal because withholding or making it difficult to secure disciplinary records was an impediment to fair trials and justice, the New York City Police Department took an enormous step in its promise for more transparency. Although police departments across the state – from Nassau County to Erie County and everywhere in between – must determine how to comply with the repeal and the means by which this information is made available and accessible, the online NYPD Personnel Database contains officer profiles, a trial decision library, trial calendars, information about complaints by members of the public against police officers to Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), a Discipline Matrix, and information about civil lawsuits alleging misconduct.
In criminal matters, where defense attorneys could use findings of misconduct and disciplinary sanctions to impeach a police officer or detective testifying at trial, the above materials could be incredibly valuable. At the same time, a complaint against an officer is not proof of wrongdoing just as the same holds true for the accused in a criminal proceeding. Instead, a case by case, or officer by officer, analysis accompanied by actual findings is paramount.
It is incredibly frighting to find yourself the target of Blackmail, Extortion, or Coercion in New York City or anywhere inside or outside the Empire State. Whether you’ve done something wrong or not, when a harasser demands property – usually money – or that you engage in behavior you otherwise need not, fear can drive your decision-making process to a ruinous end. After all, should you fail to acquiesce, your attacker will make good on his or her threat to obliterate your life or career through humiliation, misrepresentations, or even something far worse. As Extortion lawyers and victim advocates protecting men and women from Blackmail, Stalking, Harassment and other defamatory type assaults, the attorneys at Saland Law PC have dealt with and quashed these real-life scenarios firsthand.
This past week proved busy for the attorneys at Saland Law PC and demonstrative of the multiple hats we wear as criminal defense lawyers, Family Court lawyers, and victim advocates. Secured a future dismissal and return of an heirloom firearm belonging to a client after a felony arrest? Yes. Successfully argued for the dismissal of multiple allegations in an Article 8 Family Offense petition seeking an Order of Protection? Yes, again. Successfully presented a case to a District Attorney’s Office for investigation and prosecution? Yes, once more.
Despite the tumultuous times we find ourselves with the polarization of our nation due to the presidential election and day to day uncertainty of the COVID world we live, one thing has remained steady. The criminal lawyers , family court attorneys, Title IX counsel, and victim advocates at Saland Law PC continue to secure the results our clients have come to expect while also receiving recognition for their experience, knowledge, and advocacy. From Liz Crotty and Jeremy Saland’s Super Lawyer designation in the area of criminal law for metro New York City, the American Bar Association’s publication of Jeremy’s article, “Revenge Porn and the First Amendment”, and his presentation to a Cardozo Law School class, Liz’s continued strides in her efforts to represent the People of the State of New York as Manhattan’s next Democratic District Attorney, and favorable dispositions of numerous matters inside and outside the criminal justice system, Saland Law PC’s actions and results once again speak for themselves.