Its very easy to assume the worst about people. Its equally easy to stand in judgement of someone you do not know. After all, if they have done something wrong they are guilty and should be punished accordingly. However, that is not the reality of the world. There is a sea of grey between the two islands of black and white. There are human factors, life experiences and even mental health issues that impact how we conduct ourselves. Sometimes, even the good do bad. It could be you. Your sibling. Your child.
Over the past two years, I have been involved in a criminal matter that started out with a knock on a client’s door followed by a year of anxiety before an arrest. Even after the arrest, the case crawled through the criminal justice system for another ten months. Make no mistake. My client’s acts, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, were wrong. In fact, the evidence was overwhelming. As compelling as the evidence was, however, my client’s story and history were just as great.
Due to PTSD, anxiety, horrendous and documented abuse as a child through adulthood, our client became addicted to a prescription medication. This drug was not one trafficked in the streets. Adderall or Oxy it was not, but a prescription drug used by those who cannot sleep.
Unfortunately for our client, what years ago started off as a reliable means to facilitate sleep became an addiction. Without going into details, our client went from the “regular” dosage to multiples of the same. Recognizing this addiction, our client tried to secure assistance with inpatient treatment before established protocols even existed for this medication’s abuse. Despite best efforts, our client’s inability to sleep for extended periods of time and increased tolerance to the drug led to a catastrophic lack in judgement and multiple missteps.
One day, while seeing a physician, our client was accused of taking the doctor’s prescription pad. Then, on multiple occasions and at numerous pharmacies, our client submitted the fraudulent prescriptions and secured the prescription drug. Ultimately, these acts caught up to our client, handcuffs slapped on our client’s wrists and the District Attorney accused our client with multiple counts of felony Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, New York Penal Law 170.25.
Facing potentially north of a dozen felony offenses including PL 170.25, we shepherded our client’s case to a palatable and “good” resolution. Could we convince prosecutors to dismiss the case? No. But was initially discussed as a possible felony plea with probation ended with a plea to Attempted Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, New York Penal Law 110/170.20. This crime, the lowest possible criminal offenses, is a class “B” misdemeanor. Further, not only did the People agree to a conditional discharge without jail or probation, but the court granted our request for a Relief from Civil Disabilities to the benefit of our client.
At bottom, our client avoided multiple felony convictions, incarceration and probation. Instead, while the case was not dismissed, our client’s record will reflect the lowest possible criminal charge allowed by law. Not every “victory” or “win” results in a dismissal, but our client secured the help needed to break from the prescription drug and the life altering consequences of a felony record.
Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors representing clients in all criminal matters in New York City and the Hudson Valley.