There are multiple standards throughout the different levels, stages and proceedings in a criminal case. For example, probable cause for an arrest in New York is far less than the proof beyond a reasonable doubt needed by the prosecution to secure a conviction at trial. Since the relatively recent (in terms of the history of the New York Penal Law and New York Criminal Procedure Law) acceptance that a laboratory analysis or field test is not needed at the initial pleading stage to establish a sufficient complaint in a criminal court for drug possession, there have been many legal challenges by those defendants charged with Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

New York Penal Law 220.03 makes it a crime to knowingly possess a controlled substance. Sounds fairly straight forward, but when you see your judge at our arraignment, what must the police officer alleged to support his position? Training and experience in identifying drugs? The packaging of the controlled substance? What about if the police officer hits up the internet and lands on a page such as Drugs.Com? Can law enforcement merely reference an online resource in concluding that you possess a particular drug without some sort of chemical test or an elaboration of his or her experience in identifying drugs? Read below for the answer.

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How do I get my criminal conviction expunged in New York? Is anyone eligible for expungement of their criminal history? For that matter, does New York expunge past criminal convictions? The short answer to these very good questions is that while New York will start sealing certain criminal convictions in October 2017, New York does not expunge. Period (but read on).

Not all is lost, however, and quite far from it. Thanks to a very generous and fairly progressive policy, while not a vacating and removal of your criminal conviction, the hardships you endured with a decade old or more non-violent felony can be sealed from eyes of employers and the public providing you with a path to the redemption you have waited so long to embrace.

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blackmaol-300x208At first she demands a few hundred or even a couple of thousands of dollars. Maybe he tells you he just needs some money because of an emergency, but you know what’s coming. You’re not naive. You can see the writing on the wall. Blackmail. Extortion. Coercion. Harassment. You say to yourself, “I am being blackmailed. I am being extorted. Do I hire an attorney to get my blackmailer to stop? Is there any alternative to stop an extorter other than the police? How do I best keep all of this a secret and not expose my affair, drug use, business fraud or other wrongdoing whether it is my victimizer is telling the truth or concocting a completely bogus story?” While each situation demands a different analysis as to the pros and cons of protecting yourself through the assistance of law enforcement or an attorney and private investigator, the moment you have handed over even one dollar to your blackmailer, he or she has committed the felony of Grand Larceny Extortion. That crime, Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(6), is a class “E” felony with a potential sentence of up to four years in prison. If your extorter threatens violence and some physical injury or to damage your property, the offense jumps to a class “C” felony of Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40(2). Again, irrespective of the amount actually secured from you or the nature of the property, this offense is punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison.

As important as it is to know the consequences of your victimizer’s actions, it does not answer the question as to what you should do. Do nothing and hope that it will stop? File a complaint with the police? Hire an attorney to stop your extorter in his or her tracks? While the first of these options is not much of an option at all, the New York Daily News’ story on Crotty Saland’s PC’s “Busting Blackmailers” puts one option front and center.

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“Violence” and “violent” are both ugly words. In the New York Penal Law and New York Criminal Procedure Law, offenses that can cause catastrophic injuries, traumatic physical and emotional wounds and even death are designated as violent crimes. While each one of us may have a subjective view of what violent means in the context our respective lives, New York Criminal Procedure Law 70.02 specifically defines and differentiates New York violent crimes from all other offenses. The relevancy as to what is a violent crime and what is an “ordinary” offense is critical to any criminal case as well as to how a criminal defense attorney manages his representation of a client. As a preliminary matter, sentencing for violent crimes differ from other offenses and for those who want to pursue the sealing of their criminal record for up to two convictions in accordance with New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, any violent offense precludes such a remedy.

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Who is going to believe me? Why would the police or a prosecutor take my side if a teacher claims that I assaulted her? Making matters worse, why would the District Attorney’s Office take my word over my teacher’s where she claims I caused her some degree of injury? After all, why would a teacher make up a story or exaggerate an incident that ended up with me being arrested and charged with a felony of Second Degree Assault? Am I going to go to prison on a “D” violent felony where my exposure on a conviction for New York Penal Law 120.05 is up to seven years in prison? What defense can my criminal defense lawyer establish if there were little or no witnesses? Does it come down to a defense of “he said she said?”

While the above questions may only be a fraction of those racing through your mind after you have been arrested and charged with felony crime in New York, when all is said and done your goal is an obvious one. If you are not guilty, then you are pursuing all of the legal avenues possible to resolve the arrest and case in non-criminal way. Fortunately for a client of the New York criminal defense lawyers at Crotty Saland PC, while we were able to secure an outright dismissal, the removal of an order of protection, and the ability of our client to return to the school should our client and our client’s family believe this was best for the child’s future.

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Whether you want to lead off with the good or the bad, the fact remains that when you are looking to either expunge or seal your criminal convictions from your record in New York, the reality is exactly the same. The good news is that while sealing a violation and non-criminal plea or conviction has always been available, neither the expungement or sealing of criminal convictions were attainable to anyone with a criminal record in the State of New York. Fortunately, some, but not all of that, has changed with the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59. While your sealing attorney can likely provide more insight into the differences and benefits of expungement and sealing, the former is not the type of relief that New York courts offer. Despite this, New York’s conviction sealing statute and law is beyond valuable to any person hoping to minimize the exposure of their criminal history and prevent most private and public employers and agencies from finding their old arrest.

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With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, there have been countless questions by those convicted of crimes as to what criminal convictions seal, how many criminal convictions can seal and whether the results of a sealing are the equivalent or same as expunging a criminal record. Fortunately, as you can discuss in greater detail with a New York sealing lawyer, the answer to these questions, although somewhat confusing, are clear. This entry will not address the multiple sub sections of CPL 160.59, but it will identify specifically how many convictions you can seek to have “washed” from your public record. For greater analysis on the other issues identified above as well as the intricacies of New York’s sealing law, this blog and the New York Sealing Information Page has much more information for review.

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Some may choose to call it expungement, but to call is such would be somewhat misleading. As you have likely asked family members, friends and your criminal lawyer in New York, “How can I get my criminal conviction expunged?” Maybe you voiced it differently and merely wondered not how, but if you can have your criminal record sealed, but the question and concern was the same. I made a mistake. I took responsibility. I have led a law-abiding life. I should not be precluded from pursuing certain careers and be branded as a “criminal” for the rest of my life. Fortunately, New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 is the answer to, or more accurately the vehicle to secure, sealing of old criminal cases and convictions in New York State whether they arose from drugs in Albany, a stolen credit card in Queens, a bare knuckles bar fight in Brooklyn or a larceny in Westchester County.

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As of the drafting of this blog entry, if you asked any New York expungement or sealing lawyer whether or not the legislature or the courts have a mechanism, law or process to either expunge or seal criminal convictions  and criminal records, the quick and easy answer would be “no.” Starting in October 2017, however, all of this will change for the benefit of just about anyone convicted of a crime in New York. With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, often referred to as either NY CPL 160.59 or NY Crim. Pro. Law 160.59, New York State will allow just about any person convicted of one or two misdemeanors to apply for record and conviction sealing. What you should notice about the sentence that led into this one are the words uses. Simply, no everyone, or better stated, not  every criminal offense, will be eligible for sealing. Equally important, sealing and expunging are two unique means to hide or remove a criminal conviction or record. While sealing is potentially life altering to a convict from the smallest to most serious misdemeanor, vacating a criminal conviction through expungement is not available in New York. Do not worry, however, practically speaking, if you put forth your most diligent and compelling efforts, your sealing lawyer may still be able to provide you what has eluded your for a decade or far longer.

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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.

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