There are few worse things than being accused of a crime you did not commit. It really does not matter if you arrested for Aggravated Harassment, Assault, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property or any other offense. Arguably it is worse to spend a night in Central Booking than it is to be given a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York, but at the end of the day if you are arrested and prosecuted for something you did not do, then no matter the circumstances it is miserable experience. The above scenario recently played out for a client of Crotty Saland PC arrested for possessing cocaine in Manhattan. After the police arrested our client and prosecutors charged him with PL 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, our client had the “good fortune” of being given a DAT. From there, things went from bad to worse before the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC secured an an outright dismissal for our client.
I don’t think anyone would disagree. There are consequences for breaking the law. Just don’t do it. That said, all of us make mistakes. Good people commit crimes. No, not the most vicious and amoral offenses, but some of the lesser crimes that can still be life altering to the accused. This could not be more true than in situations where a foreign national attending college or a university to complete his or her studies at an American school is arrested in New York for what otherwise is a fairly small offense. In such situations, a $100 shoplift arrest in Queens, a Desk Appearance Ticket for possessing marijuana in Manhattan or even a dispute with a cab driver that ends in an arrest for Theft of Services in Brooklyn can all have major implications for an immigrant and foreign national in the United States. In fact, it is possible, and clients have come to the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC dealing with this exact issue, that as a result of the mere arrest, their F1 or H1B visa is revoked. One such Crotty Saland PC client found himself in this predicament only days ago. Fortunately, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC rectified the situation in a timely manner to allow this client to secure the proper visa and legal status and return to the United States to continues his education.
Not every person learns, behaves, engages, or speaks in the same way. That which makes us different also makes us special. Sometimes our differences are slight while other times they are greater. Sometimes we behave in a certain way while other times it is beyond our control. It is in the context of these latter folks – those who may not always conform to the “norm” due to mental health issues – that this blog entry applies.
The New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC are beyond pleased to share the best criminal defense results we could have achieved for a young person suffering from, among other things, severe anxiety and mental health issues. Charged with Trespassing, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, our criminal attorneys succeeded in securing our client’s release only to this young person get rearrested immediately upon getting out of jail for striking a parent in the presence of the NYPD. This second offense, resulting from sever anxiety while in custody, charged Third Degree Assault and commenced an entirely new case. Despite the allegations and law enforcement witness, prosecutors listened to our passionate arguments and recognized that there could be mitigating reasons why our client acted in this particular way in relation to both cases. The District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss the Third Degree Assault case outright and adjourn the underlying drug case for dismissal in six months. No criminal conviction. No plea of guilty. Nothing.
I am not a free lawyer, but that does not mean I do not handle pro bono work or represent individuals who do not have the means to retain an experienced New York criminal lawyer. Simply, everyone needs and should be entitled to quality representation by an attorney especially in the context of a life altering arrest. After meeting with a woman who was unquestionably the victim of domestic violence in both criminal and “merely” mentally abusive form, Crotty Saland PC took her case in New York City Criminal Court. Despite the public lawyer assigned to her case advising that she had a difficult path ahead, our client maintained her innocence in the face of charges including Third Degree Assault (NY PL 120.00) and Second Degree Aggravated Harassment (NY PL 240.30). While it was unlikely she would see any jail time even though the law allows up to one year in prison, any finding of wrongdoing or assertion that she assaulted and harassed her partner was unacceptable. Fortunately, through diligence, time and effort, Crotty Saland PC secured a complete dismissal of all charges.
Criminal lawyers or not, we can all argue and address the intentions and practical applications of the Second Amendment. Further, there are many of us who would agree that an AR-15 is not a reasonable weapon to have in your home or for hunting. That said, most weapon and gun crimes in New York are not of the assault rifle variety and tied to a complex Second Amendment issue. Each and every illegal firearm case prosecuted in New York may share certain traits, such as the potential for violating Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Firearm, but they are all far from the same. In the eyes of the law, however, while facts may be different, whether you possessed a revolver with the serial numbers scratched off, a glock in an ankle holster you purchased in cash from a guy you met on the street, or you are a licensed firearm owner visiting New York from Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Florida or another state, pistol, gun and weapon crimes pursuant to New York Penal 265.03 are offenses that carry a minimum of 3.5 year in prison upon conviction. Make no mistake. New York means business when it comes to illegal firearm possession and on its face an arrest for PL 265.03 is one of the most serious offenses in the New York criminal code. While everyone is entitled to a defense, police must follow proper procedure and prosecutors maintain the burden of proof, if you are an otherwise legal firearm owner arrested for a felony relating to that weapon, ensuring that you are not lumped into the same category as blatant abusers of the law who may possesses their guns for malicious purposes is critical. In the arena of a firearm arrest at JFK Airport or LaGuardia Airport in New York City’s Queens County, this could not be more true.
It is painfully clear that New York State does a poor job in communicating to residents of neighboring states that merely because they legally own or possess their firearm – handgun, revolver, pistol – at home, when that same firearm is brought to New York it is a crime. Not just any crime, when the weapon is loaded with the ammunition and bullets capable of being fired from the gun (they need not be physically in it), the offense in New York is a class “C” violent felony. How do I know this as a criminal defense attorney in New York who represents clients arrested at LaGuardia or JFK Airport for New York Penal Law 265.03? I know this because I routinely am asked by defendants, “I was arrested for having a loaded gun in New York at the airport, but I legally own it and I followed the TSA guidelines. What did I do wrong and what is a violent felony and mandatory prison?”
“Hate” is a relative term in this context, but its fairly reasonable to assert the NYPD (or any police department), District Attorneys and local, city and Supreme Court criminal judges hate Identity Theft. Its not such a great leap for a New York Identity Theft attorney, an accused or a bail bondsman to make. What is there to like about it? It costs New York City, New York State and the United States, both privately and governmentally, hundreds of millions or billions of dollars? And no, merely because you are accused of a New York Identity Theft crime amounting to merely a few hundred or a few thousand dollars will not give you a pass. To that end, one recent Crotty Saland PC client is likely ecstatic that multiple stupid mistake did not land the client in prison for a minimum of two to four years. Not only was this client arrested in Brooklyn (Kings County) and facing indictment for multiple counts of Second Degree Identity Theft (New York Penal Law 190.79), Second Degree Forgery (New York Penal Law 170.10) and a handful of misdemeanors including Petit Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.25), Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (New York Penal Law 165.40) and Third Degree Identity Theft (New York Penal Law 190.78), but this client was previously convicted of Third Degree Grand Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.35) thirteen months earlier in Manhattan (New York County). While the New York criminal lawyers and Identity Theft attorneys at Crotty Saland PC did not represent the client on prior the felony conviction, due to this conviction any new felony plea would require a minimum of two to four years in prison and a potential maximum of three and one half to seven years in prison. Due to the diligence and advocacy of Crotty Saland PC, the crash and burn finality as mandated by law upon a conviction was completely avoided.
Yes, the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC represent numerous travelers flying in and out of area airports. No, just because the firearm is unloaded when you check it at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LaGuardia), doesn’t mean you will avoid an arrest. For that matter, merely because you checked in advance with the TSA or your airline, whether it is American, Delta, US Air, Southwest or JetBlue, that your hard side case was the proper means to store that pistol, in no way means police with the Port Authority will let you board your plane without an arrest. As you may only know now, your registration, carry permit or concealed license in Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Illinois or California (we can throw in Arizona or any other state if it makes you feel better), won’t shield you from an arrest and prosecution from the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. However, if there is any silver lining, albeit more of a silver colored paint as opposed to the precious metal itself, if an unloaded and unregistered firearm is recovered from you after you declare and attempt to check it, the crime you will face is not the dreaded Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon (New York Penal Law 265.03). As you will soon find out from your criminal defense attorney and the court, instead of a Class C violent felony, you will be booked and arraigned on the Class E felony of Criminal Possession of a Firearm (New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1)). While Criminal Possession of a Firearm is not as crippling as an arrest for possessing a loaded revolver, pistol or gun, its all relative. Unfortunately, a recent Crotty Saland PC client learned that the consequences of a weapon and firearm arrest in Queens County for trying to check an “illegal” handgun at the airport is no less significant whether its locked and loaded or merely the weapon itself. Fortunately, however, Crotty Saland PC mounted a successful mitigation defense.
When I served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, my greatest achievement, selfishly or not, was securing a conviction after trial for Attempted Murder against a husband who had physically and emotionally abused his wife and children for years. From burning a son and repeatedly striking another child, his violent acts culminated when he repeatedly stabbed his wife after she turned down his sexual advances. Until that point, the wife, an immigrant without a full command of the English language, was hesitant to seek justice. While fortunately may not be the right term, on the night of this incident their pre-teen and fifteen year old children were home when their father went into a rage and began stabbing their mother with a knife he had been using to peal an apple. Not merely stabbing her once, the defendant stabbed the mother of his children repeatedly until the blade broke off in her shoulder and their fifteen year old son broke down the bedroom door with a hammer.
On many fronts, this conviction for Attempted Murder and the twenty five year sentence was gratifying. The bond and trust developed with the victims, providing them the protection they deserved, and bringing closure to a horrific time in their lives was rewarding. Why do I share this so many years later? I do so because despite the misconceptions that only prosecutors wear the “white hat”, criminal defense attorneys do so as well. Facing the same potential sentence of up to twenty five years in prison, a client of Crotty Saland PC was also brought closure as a victim even though he was charged with many crimes including Kidnapping in the Second Degree as opposed to being the accuser. After a lengthy trial, this innocent man was exonerated and found not guilty by a jury of his peers. Not due to a legal technicality, his innocence was “proven” because of my effort to provide justice to my client in the face of a fabricated story shrouded in what appeared to be significant and damning evidence. Through developing our own evidence and challenging the prosecution’s, and advocacy before and during trial, closure was seized. The following his this client’s review of our services as criminal defense attorneys and lawyers:
Don’t count on the TSA or your airline – Delta, JetBlue, American, United – to confirm whether or not the firearm you traveled with to New York from Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia or any other state in the Union is legal in New York. No official airline or TSA website will provide you that information and discuss the extent New York’s laws are in direct conflict with the Second Amendment or how your permit, license or registration in Texas, Maryland or California is not valid here. For that matter, the ticket agent, online booking website, the TSA or your airline will not explain that possessing the loaded firearm (loaded doesn’t require ammunition in the pistol or revolver) in New York without the proper permit is by default a class “C” violent felony punishable by a minimum term of three and one half years incarceration pursuant to Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Firearm (Penal Law 265.03). Certainly, you can follow the advice listed on the TSA website at your own peril. To some extent it is accurate. That is, wherever you may be flying to and from the regulations are the same. You must head to the ticket counter, have the unloaded firearm in a locked hard sided case, slap a sticker or a tag on that case, declare the firearm and ensure that no parts of the firearm are inadvertently taken with you as a carry-on onto the airplane. But that is where the TSA’s usefulness and value ends. Flying into JFK or LaGuardia (or for that matter any other airport) is one thing, but after checking the firearm at the ticket counter on your way home from one of these Queens County airports, you are going to be personally escorted to the “tombs” of Queens County Central Booking on your way to your arraignment on felony weapon charges at Queen County Criminal Court. A layover is one thing…but this is no what you expected.