The state of the New York Penal and Criminal Procedure laws as practiced in New York courts is overly restrictive and burdensome. What says you? According to whom? The state of the New York Penal Law and Criminal Procedure Law as practiced in New York courts is overly lenient and broad!

The beauty of asking two different people the same question, especially in New York, is that you will get two different answers. Irrespective of one’s personal view, any spectator or active participant in the criminal justice system will likely tell you that on any given day you can likely see both of these perspectives play out in courtrooms from New York City to Buffalo. Without addressing the validity of the above conclusions or what might happen from day to day, there is one area of law that, right or wrong, that is stacked against the accused. Merit and reasoning aside, law enforcement can charge you, the accused, with the most minimal amount of evidence and corroboration while prosecutors can draft a legally sufficient complaint or information charging you with a drug crime in New York such as Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03, based on nominal evidence. How can law enforcement sustain a charge of PL 220.03 so easily you ask? Because if the police say you possessed drugs and explain their reasoning in boilerplate language as to why they believe it’s a controlled substance, then barring any other infirmities the information (complaint) against you is legally sufficient and will likely overcome a motion to dismiss.

Continue reading

One not need a JD from Harvard, or any legal degree at all, to recognize that Blackmail and Extortion, fundamentally the same thing, are crimes. Codified in the New York State Penal Law under Article 155, Extortion is a form or means by which a person commits Grand Larceny, a felony. By default, no matter the property type or amount secured by Blackmail in New York, Penal Law 155.30(6) makes any extorter or blackmailer guilty of a class “E” felony upon conviction. If the value of the property secured by the blackmailer is north of $3,000, $50,000 or $1 million, so is the extorter’s exposure to significant lengths of incarceration on greater felonies. Moreover, if violence is part of the extorter’s conduct, the offense level can also be increased. blackmaol-300x208

Sometimes the crime of Extortion is easy to identify, investigate and prosecute. Other times the target is either hard to identify, find or legally pursue within the bounds of the law. Whether you, as a victim, go to Federal, New York State or local law enforcement, or you retain an Extortion lawyer to fend off a wrongdoer so he or she ceases and desists, is your decision. However, the question addressed in this blog entry is potentially a complicated one on its face, but one easily addressed by the law. If you reside in New York, but your blackmailer lives out of state, can her or she still be prosecuted by a District Attorney or can your New York Extortion attorney still attempt to stop your victimizer with a cease and desist letter or other legal means?

Continue reading

The term “identity theft” is one that makes anyone and everyone cringe. After all, there are few people who have not been effected by a fraud crime relating to Identity Theft. Unfortunately, when many people hear of this offense they often think large scale fraud involving social security numbers, bank accounts and thousands, if not many more, dollars. If you have been convicted of an Article 190 crime such as Third, Second or First Degree Identity Theft, then you don’t need a criminal lawyer or sealing attorney to advise you how adversely having such a conviction on your criminal record has impacted getting a job, securing a promotion, or merely finding solid employment. Fortunately, your question of whether you can seal or expunge a conviction for Identity Theft in New York can finally be answered. While most convictions that are neither legally defined as violent crimes nor considered sex offenses are initially eligible for sealing pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, the same cannot be said for expungement. Do not panic. While New York does not expunge criminal convictions and “only” potentially seals certain crimes, sealing can potentially “erase” your criminal conviction from public view and New York Penal Law 190.78, 190.79 and 190.80 are all likely NY CPL 160.59 eligible offenses.

Continue reading

New York City Administrative Code 19-190, generally defined as failing to exercise “due care” and violating the right of way of pedestrians and cyclists, is a relatively new statute drafted and passed by New York City. Not codified in the New York Penal Law, legislation drafted and passed by the State Legislature and New York State Governor, AC 19-190 is an unclassified misdemeanor. While a conviction can land a person in jail, aka, Rikers Island, it is generally not the sentence of imprisonment that is of grave concern, but the fact that a criminal administrative code violation is indelible. In other words, whether you are convicted of a New York State Tax crime, New York State Penal Law offense or New York City Administrative Code misdemeanor, you will have a permanent criminal record. This blog entry will address some of the legal issues that have arisen since the enactment of AC 19-190.

Continue reading

Unlike DWI arrests in New York where you refuse to “blow,” there are other DWI or DUI crimes that are based on evidence of a person having a BAC of .08 or more. These drunk driving crimes are codified in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192.2. While VTL 1192.2 is the same misdemeanor offense as a Common Law or Refusal DWI of VTL 1192.3, they are also different. These former DUI crimes are not based on whether you were staggering, unsteady on your feet and had slurred speech, but simply on whether your BAC was equal to or exceeded .08 even if you did not exhibit any of the indicia of intoxication. This blog entry addresses the conviction sealing eligibility issues found in New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 as it relates to a VTL 1192.2 arrest and conviction. Further, this article briefly examines whether you can seal a DWI conviction and, if so, how you file an application to seal your DWI.

Continue reading

I called my ex-girlfriend dozens of times and was ultimately convicted of Second Degree Aggravated Harassment. There was an order of protection issued, but I completed my anger management without any problems. Can I now get my criminal record cleaned and erased? Can I purge or seal a conviction for New York Penal Law 240.30? Does it matter I was incarcerated for three months and then had to complete three years probation?

With the passage and implementation of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, “Sealing of Certain Convictions,” what was once an irrevocable and permanent blemish on one’s criminal record may no longer be the case. Instead of answering “yes” when an employer inquires about a criminal record, should you successfully seal an eligible conviction, New York Executive Law 296(16) precludes most potential employers from asking about your sealed criminal conviction or mandating that you divulge any information about the same.

Continue reading

A routine question by students at Columbia University is what is the university’s gender-based misconduct policy and how does it relate to Title IX? A very broad question involving many answers, the first step in understanding Columbia University’s gender-based misconduct policy and procedures for students, whether one is enrolled at Columbia, Barnard College or Teachers College, is to first identify what constitutes prohibited conduct.

Continue reading

A crime that is routinely prosecuted in New York City, and likely elsewhere through the State of New York, is New York Penal Law 265.01(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon. More specifically, if you knowingly possess a gravity knife or a switchblade knife you are guilty of a class “A” misdemeanor. Because of the severity of the crime, its creation of a permanent criminal record as a result of a conviction, and the fact that what the State identifies as a gravity knife often results in regular people being charged with crimes they had no idea they violated, there are many offenders who should consider having their old criminal conviction for PL 265.01 sealed in accordance with New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59. For that matter, whether you had metal knuckles, a slingshot, shirken, chucka stick or any other per se weapon, conviction sealing is an option to consider.

One of the problems with PL 265.01, and reason why it is an offense that you should seek to seal from your criminal record, is that on  its face a conviction for any weapon offense has the worst possible connotation for and to a prospective employer. While one might argue a switchblade knife is often associated with a dangerous instrument, a gravity knife can be something as simple as a multi-tool purchased at a hardware store. While this blog does not address the merits of the law, the questions posed here are can you apply to have your conviction for NY PL 265.01 sealed with the passage of CPL 160.59 and is Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon an eligible offense?

Continue reading

New York State has numerous laws and crimes regulating the use and possession of firearms and other weapons. Whether one is supportive of these statutes such as the Safe Act or not, these laws are some of the most rigid and strict in the nation. While they are all codified in New York Penal Law Article 265, the crimes vary from class “A” misdemeanors to class “B” felonies. There is little dispute that the most common of these offenses is Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, New York Penal Law 265.01(1). However, the types of per se objects that qualify as weapons, including gravity and switchblade knives, may be serious, but not as significant as their firearm related brethren. Of these crimes, those likely prosecuted the most in New York City and at both LaGuardia and JFK Airport in Queens are Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, New York Penal Law 265.03, and Criminal Possession of a Firearm, New York Penal Law 265.01-b. With that in mind, this blog entry addresses some of the most significant differences between two crimes that are somewhat similar and regularly prosecuted, but drastically different in their potential sentence and punishment upon a conviction.

Continue reading

In the State of New York, a DWI arrest and conviction can be based on different theories of the law. One such DUI or drunk driving crime is found in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192.3. Often referred to as either Common Law DWI or Refusal DWI, this Driving While Intoxicated crime is based not on a “blow” of .08 or higher, but merely on a police officer’s experience and observations of, for example, a flushed face, watery-bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on your breath. No, this blog entry does not address the legality of a refusal to provide a breath sample or the legal sufficiency of a DWI complaint charging VTL 1192, but a set of question asked by countless individuals convicted of DWI in New York: Can I seal my criminal conviction for a Common Law or Refusal DWI or DUI and, if so, how do I seal and remove the DWI arrest from my rap sheet or criminal record?

Continue reading