Advocating effectively is not as easy as it seems. Understanding the criminal justice system in a practical sense takes experience. Doing your homework on your client’s criminal case to put him or her in the best position to resolve that case favorably takes diligence. The end result, however, can be well worth all the work for both the accused and the criminal defense attorney who secured justice. In fact, for a few recent Crotty Saland PC clients, what were originally nightmarish experiences ended in closed cases, non-criminal dispositions and outright dismissals.
Many people believe that if you need a top criminal defense attorney, or any for that matter, you are clearly guilty of something. Whether that belief is misguided is fairly irrelevant, of course, until it is you who needs a criminal defense lawyer. That said, there are very few things in life as debilitating and emotionally destructive as being accused of a crime you did not commit. Maybe you did something morally wrong or maybe you did nothing improper at all, but law enforcement, such as the NYPD and the District Attorney, or a complainant incorrectly interpreted your acts or intent. Yes, where there is smoke there is often fire, but life teaches us that this is by no means a given truth.
You, the accused, have rights and the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Their failure or inability to do so means your case should be dismissed. For a recent Crotty Saland PC client employed in the banking and financial sector, a dismissal of all charges, including felony Third Degree Grand Larceny, is just how the criminal case ended not merely because our client was innocent, but due to advocacy of those same criminal defense attorneys many of us believe only represent the guilty.
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.
At 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.
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.
Any attorney who claims that white collar crimes are not as serious as those involving violence is a lawyer who likely has neither the knowledge nor experience how thefts, larcenies, frauds and other schemes are investigated and prosecuted in New York City or elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. While a theft crime for Embezzlement, Extortion, or another related offense may not require mandatory prison and incarceration upon conviction in most circumstances for first time offenders, the practical reality is that a sentence “upstate” is far from atypical. Even those who don’t face a sentence of this magnitude recognize that a felony conviction will forever tarnish their name, follow them throughout their lives and careers, and end never be expunged. Want to work in the financial sector, public sector, as a teacher, lawyer, physician, accountant, nurse or merely have a professional career? It will be a long time before you ever, if you can, run away from a conviction. Fortunately for a recent Crotty Saland PC client charged with Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, New York Penal Law 165.45(1), and Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(4), an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will remove one of the most horrific experiences of our client’s life within six months.
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.
My case was dismissed in New York criminal court. Does that mean the record is expunged? I received an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), is that also considered an actual dismissal? What happens to my criminal record? What about my fingerprints? Even though I was charged with a crime, how do I get my record wiped clean and my fingerprints out of the system and destroyed?
The above questions are all reasonable questions that are often asked to New York criminal lawyers, but not always answered in the most simple way. In fact, there are multiple answers to these questions and issues. Whether you were initially charged with and arrested for a felony Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor Assault in the Third Degree, issued a Desk Appearance Ticket in Manhattan or you were indicted in Brooklyn, there really is no engagement in New York State. That’s correct. Other states may have a process to expunge criminal convictions, but New York is not one of them. There is, however, a means by which you – a person accused of a crime and later exonerated, found not guilty, acquitted or merely the rightful recipient of a dismissal – can clean up the records of your arrest including those related to fingerprints so that your personal and professional exposure of a criminal past does not exist.
You are waiting in line at JFK or LaGuardia to check your bags and return home to Texas, Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia or any other state in the Union. Thinking nothing of it, you declare your firearm to the Delta, JetBlue, American or other airline agent. Not alarmed in the slightest, the agent tells you to wait…and you do just that. Shortly thereafter, police officers with the Port Authority Police Department approach you. Now becoming slightly more alarmed, if you are reading this blog entry you know exactly what happens next.
There are few worse things than being accused of a crime you did not commit. Even more upsetting is if the crime you are arrested for in New York involves an accusation of Domestic Violence, Assault and Child Endangerment. Sadly, when marriages go south and divorces get nasty, criminal lawyers see the ugly side of false claims, unnecessary arrests and orders of protections that are used not because they are genuinely needed, but one spouse wants to manipulate the system for his or her own gain.
Unfortunately for a recent client of the New York criminal lawyer at Crotty Saland PC, the above scenario played out where her spouse accused her of Third Degree Assault, NY PL 120.00, in front of their children. Not only was she charged with PL 120.00, but because the children were allegedly present she was also arrested for Endangering the Welfare of a Child, NY PL 260.10. Compounding matters well beyond these two class “A” misdemeanors, the court issued an order of protection in favor of her husband and children despite the fact that although unknown to the District Attorney’s Office at the time, the complainant fabricated the incident.