By no means are multiple allegations proof of criminal conduct nor any wrongdoing whatsoever, but the claims against Eric Schneiderman, who only about an hour prior to drafting this blog served as the New York State Attorney General and chief law enforcement officer of the Empire State, are quite serious. Deserving of the same due process and presumption of innocence, what, if any crimes could Mr. Schneiderman face if prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office should any of the four woman, and claimed victims of his alleged aggression, pursue criminal charges? Putting aside the conflict that might arise due to the fact that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently tasked former Attorney General Schneiderman with investigating District Attorney’s Vance’s handling of the Harvey Weinstein predation, there are definitely potential violations of the New York Penal Law that Gotham’s District Attorney could pursue against the former NYS Attorney General and NYS Senator.
You’re were drunk at a bar. Maybe it was just a bit more than one bourbon, on scotch and one beer. What spirits you imbibed and the exact amount is fairly irrelevant. What matters, however, is that after your were told to leave you did so, but came back angry, red faced and as violent as were sloppy. Instead of holding your liquor like a man or woman, you behaved as if it was your first rodeo and whatever muscles and fighting experience you had (or didn’t have), you morphed into a half 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger and half modern day UFC brawler. There is little doubt your hangover was epic, but not necessarily from the actual alcohol. When your dry mouth and throbbing head gave way to the realization you had marks on your wrists from being handcuffed and the floor you slept on was not in fact your bed, the reality of what occurred the night before began to set. Unfortunately for a Crotty Saland PC client, while the reality of the circumstances and arrest were far less graceful than the poetic story line shared here, the substance of the incident was quite similar. Initially charged with Third Degree Burglary, New York Penal Law 140.20, and Attempted Third Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 110/120.00(1), a bad night at a bar became a dark future of uncertainty in the New York criminal justice system.
One of the more serious misdemeanor crimes you can be arrested for in New York, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, New York Penal Law 121.11(a) and New York Penal Law 121.11(b), is often charged in the context of a New York Domestic Violence arrest. Although a prosecution for PL 121.11 need not be domestic and familial in nature, regardless of whomever the alleged victim is if you are convicted in a New York City Criminal Court or a Justice Court somewhere in a municipality in Westchester, Rockland or any other county, the potential sentence is the same. That is, not only can you face up to one year in a county jail, but there are other penalties ranging from probation, anger management programs, community service and even fines. This blog entry will address the crime of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation not in terms of how courts interpret the law, but in the event you faced a jury or bench trial accused of PL 121.11, the jury instructions that will be read to the jury or followed by a judge in rendering a decision.
There are countless arrests for Assault in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 120.00, Assault in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 120.05, and Assault in the First Degree, New York Penal Law 120.10, charges every year in New York City. An issue that arises incredibly frequently, and one that many criminal lawyers must contend, involves the misdemeanor crime of Assault in the Third Degree prosecutions. That question, a genuine legal one, is what amounts to “substantial pain” in the eyes of the New York criminal code? The reason that this is such a common issue is that one requirement for Assault in the Third Degree under the New York State Penal Law is that the victim suffered a “physical injury.” The law in New York is that, in addition to more obvious injuries like broken bones, only requires that an alleged victim suffer “substantial pain” as one kind of “physical injury.” Interesting for many reasons, not least of which is that pain is such a subjective thing, there is a legal threshold that the prosecution must meet. If your bone is broken, it’s either broken or it isn’t – it’s an objective standard. Pain is far more nebulous, and leaves a lot of room for interpretation both in terms of the person allegedly suffering as well as a judge who will review a criminal complaint for legal sufficiency.
The term “dangerous instrument” is used throughout the New York State Penal Law as an elements of certain criminal charges, typically violent felonies such as Assault in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 120.05(2), but for other misdemeanor crimes such as Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, New York Penal Law 265.01(2). From the context of the criminal statutes in which the term is used, it is easy to understand that the term “dangerous instrument” is basically referring to the use of a weapon. But what qualifies as a weapon and how is it different from a “dangerous instrument?” Not a complete analysis of the law nor a substitute for a consultation with your criminal lawyer, the following helps answers this question.
Accused of strangling and slamming the complainant’s head into a radiator during a domestic violence dispute, a recent Crotty Saland PC client faced up to seven years in prison after being arrested for and charged with Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, and Second Degree Strangulation, New York Penal Law 121.12. Quite serious felony crimes in New York, the criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC had their hands full. Our client, who maintained his/her innocence, refuted the objectively serious allegations from the onset of his/her arrest. Hauled into an NYPD precinct, questioned by detectives and both booked and arraigned on these two felonies, the District Attorney’s Office asserted in the felony complaint that not only did our client strangle the complainant until he/she lost consciousness, but our client repeatedly slammed the complainant’s head into a radiator in the neighborhood of fifteen time, gouged at the alleged victim’s eyes and punched him/her in the nose. Not only did the complainant black out twice, but our client also allegedly brandished scissors while threatening to kill his/her domestic partner. Facing a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of seven years incarcerated if convicted of either PL 120.05 or PL 121.12, the New York domestic violence attorneys at Crotty Saland PC expected the worst at arraignment, but what seemed to be an objectively horrific incident if true, slowly evolved into a case that was far from what it seemed.
The last time anyone associated with the Washington Redskins opened a can of good old fashion whoop-ass was likely the bludgeoning of John Elway’s Denver Broncos by both Doug Williams and Timmy Smith in Super Bowl XXII. While Jacqueline Kent Cooke may or may not have been a glimmer in her parents’ eyes back in 1988, if the allegations are true as reported by the New York Post and New York Daily News, the heiress now faces criminal charges for at least the second time in her short, but financially enhanced, life. Possibly unfamiliar with the current state of concussions plaguing professional football players, Ms. Kent Cooke is alleged to have made some rather insensitive anti-Semitic statements toward a Jewish lawyer (presumably not former US Senate candidate Roy’s Moore’s Jewish lawyer) followed by a unsportsmanlike slam to the noggin of the fifty plus year old man with her hard sided purse. It is further alleged that Ms. Kent Cooke may have consumed a few too many cocktails
So, with at least three, if not four, full quarters left to play, what is in store for Ms. Kent Cooke as she enjoys the next “few” hours hanging out in Manhattan’s Tombs? What are the potential crimes she may face as she temporarily takes up residence in a dirty jail cell awaiting arraignment in New York County Criminal Court?
Sometimes people make bad mistakes. Really bad mistakes. When youth is mixed with alcohol and testosterone is running through one’s veins, there is a often a toxic mix that can end in disaster. Unfortunately, a recent client who retained the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC learned this the hard way after the NYPD arrested our client in Manhattan charging our client with Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, and other crimes. Our client, a recent college graduate, got into a confrontation with anther person at a NYC bar and allegedly attempted to smash a glass mug on the person’s head or face, but instead the glass was alleged to have bounced and shattered on the face of a nearby person. As a result, the unintended victim whom our client was alleged to have struck suffered significant injuries to his jaw structure and bone as well as numerous stitches to close the wound from the broken glass. Hauled off to court and arraigned before a judge on two separate counts of Second Degree Assault under the theory that a dangerous instruments was used to cause a physical injury and that it was our client’s actual intent to cause a serious physical injury, our client faced a potential indelible felony conviction and as much as seven years in a New York State prison. As unfortunate as those circumstances may have objectively been, the New York criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC were able to secure not merely a downward departure from a felony to a misdemeanor, but our client was ultimately sentenced to a Disorderly Conduct, New York Penal Law 240.20. In the end, our client did not sustain a criminal record.
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.
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.