On the heels of a “Not Responsible” finding for a client accused of dating violence at his college in violation of Title IX policies against sexual harassment and domestic violence, New York criminal lawyer Jeremy Saland is once again pleased to share that Saland Law exonerated another client accused of domestic charges and crimes. Arrested for Third Degree Assault, Penal Law 120.00, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, Penal Law 121.11, and other crimes after our client’s then-girlfriend alleged he choked her, tore off her necklace, and repeatedly struck her in a hotel room during a holiday visit to Manhattan, prosecutors moved to dismiss the case before picking a jury and commencing a trial in the Jury Court Part. Though it was both deserved and a long time coming, what started off as a frightening night in custody, sending our client’s life spiraling, ended up in a complete and total exoneration.
Since starting my career in 2000 as a lawyer in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and establishing a successful criminal defense firm that has grown into servicing other areas of law, I have become all too familiar with the gravity and magnitude a criminal accusation can and does have upon a person and his or her family. More specifically, as my law practice grew into representing clients involved in university and college Title IX and code of conduct investigations, I quickly learned that even beyond a criminal case, any allegation is overwhelming. When the target or subject of misconduct is a young person – a college, university, or high school student – an allegation that he or she violated a school’s Title IX policies against dating violence, sexual harassment, or some other infraction involving the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Cleary Act, the emotional burden for a client is often at its greatest. Why? Without an adult’s life experience, lack of a local support structure or fear of involving parents, and perception that their “life is over”, these teens or twenty-somethings find themselves in a place of despair, facing a stained academic career with the real possibility of suspension or expulsion, and a future life and career on the precipice.
Sometimes good people do terribly bad things, regular people make incredibly poor choices, and bad situations find everyday people who did nothing much at all. No matter how they got there, when the handcuffs are locked around their wrists and a Grand Jury hands down an indictment, they face the same dire consequences within the confines of New York’s criminal justice system.
Regardless of the bucket a recent Saland Law client could point to, he found himself in desperate need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Facing the Class “D” violent felonies of Second Degree Assault, Penal Law 120.04, and Second Degree Strangulation, Penal Law 121.12, and a presumptive mandatory two to seven years in prison, our client, a professional working for a large organization, knew his life, liberty, and career were all in jeopardy.
Usually, one of the first questions clients ask me in my capacity as a criminal defense lawyer after they have been arrested by the NYPD or Port Authority Police for possessing a loaded firearm is, “What is the penalty is for carrying a gun in New York City?” and “How long do you go to jail for having a gun in New York even if you have a conceal carry permit in [Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Virginia…]?”. While a conviction for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Penal Law 265.03, can saddle you with a sentence for as long as 15 years in prison, with a compulsory minimum of three and a half years if the firearm is “loaded” (bullets needn’t be in the weapon for it to be “loaded” as a matter of law”), a judge can hand down punishment of up to four years behind bars for Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Penal Law 265.01-b(1), even when there is no ammunition at all.
With this type of exposure in mind, Saland Law is incredibly grateful, though not as much as our client after her arrest for Penal Law 265.03, prosecutors took the time to truly review what I presented, examine our client’s case, and advance the matter for dismissal in the interest of justice. While a non-criminal Disorderly Conduct violation or Adjournment in Contemplation (ACD) of dismissal after six months would have been considered a “win” assuming there was no legal impediment to the case, such as in cases I have handled in Queens County where unknowing travelers checked their firearms with the TSA at either JFK or LaGuardia Airport, and downward departures and re-pleaders to non-criminal pleas in other counties such as Manhattan and elsewhere, Brooklyn prosecutors went the extra mile to make an objectively just decision on a case that appeared ugly if one did not do one’s “homework”.
Due to the nature of the underlying allegations and elements of the offenses themselves, there are certain crimes in New York that carry with them a horrendous stigma. Both misdemeanors and felonies, many of these crimes are New York Penal Law Article 130 sex offenses and include Forcible Touching, Penal Law 130.52, on the “lesser” end, and varying degrees of Rape on the more violent side of the spectrum. While it would be hard to disagree that individuals convicted of these crimes are deserving of our collective scorn for their sexual misbehavior and abuse of another, what is unjust is our cavalier willingness to strip these individuals, often men, of their presumption of innocence. Instead of treating and holding them to the same standard we are entitled and would demand for our loved ones, we, without pause, saddle them with something far worse – not a mere presumption but a firmly held determination of their guilt right out of the box. Fortunately for a recent Saland Law client accused of Forcible Touching by a former co-worker, despite this presumption of his guilt and months of challenging the arrest, prosecutors finally dismissed the case against him on the merits.
In one of the most rewarding cases I have handled as either a prosecutor or a criminal defense lawyer, I am beyond proud and pleased to share that my client, arrested for three counts of Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, and one count of Third Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.35, not only avoided imprisonment, but with great effort on his part, along with compassion and consideration by prosecutors and the presiding judge, walked out of the courtroom without any criminal record at all. Though the People moved to dismiss his case in the interest of justice, when our client, a young professional, first came to Saland Law, he faced a presumptive two years and as much as seven years in prison for each count of Second Degree Assault. Compounding matters, not only would he lose his liberty upon conviction, but he would likely lose his license and ability to practice in his chosen profession after he served his sentence.
“Jeremy wasn’t just ‘there’ for us 24/7, his experience and character shined when we needed it most.” – Father of client accused of Sex Abuse and Forcible Touching.
When people learn that as a criminal defense attorney I represent clients accused of sexual offenses including Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching, the response is often some form of questioning of how I can represent such people along with an assumption of my client’s guilt. While there are times when the evidence of wrongdoing is strong, there are other times when claims are false in part or in whole. Accept it or not, the fact is that false claims of Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching do happen. Whether it is .005% or far greater or much less, when you are the accused, it is of no consequence. It matters not what the percentages are or what has happened to somebody else. What matters is if the allegation made against you was weaponized to punish you out of anger or jealousy, used to facilitate a favorable outcome in a separate legal proceeding or other dispute, is born from regret, or is intentionally or accidentally false for any number of reasons.
In two back-to-back cases involving extorters blackmailing their targets from outside New York State, one of whom was abroad, Saland Law’s Jeremy Saland, along with Sage Intelligence Group’s Herman Weisberg, shut down callously selfish harassers from syphoning more money from our clients after these victims wizened up and retained the “‘A-Team’ of ex-lawmen extracting victims from blackmail ploys”. Beyond putting an end to their thieving ways, both bad guys, yes, men posing as women, licked their wounds and profusely apologized for the error of their ways after being ferreted out from their wrongfully presumed shadowed corner of the internet. Very simply, upon being confronted with the grave consequences of their actions no matter where they hid, these men made it overwhelmingly clear, and repeatedly so, that their threats and demands were no more.
Having both prosecuted individuals as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney and defended clients arrested and charged with Penal Law 265.03, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, as a New York gun possession lawyer, I have learned over the past 22 years that New York’s firearm laws can be unforgiving. For the uninformed, which there are many, the New York Penal Law does not differentiate between unlawfully possessing a loaded firearm – pistols, glocks, revolvers – outside your home or place of business that you illegally bought on the street or stole, from one otherwise lawfully possessed out of state but carried on your person in New York without the requisite license or permit here. Simply, even if there are other potential charges, in the eyes of New York law, there is no difference between holstering that back alley loaded gun in your waistband and walking around Brooklyn and declaring that same .9 mm to an airline representative or TSA agent, along with your out-of-state permit, before flying out of Queens’ JFK or LaGuardia Airport believing you are following proper protocols. Taken a step further, whether there is a bullet chambered in either scenario or the ammunition is in a case but not in the actual gun, the weapon may nonetheless be considered loaded.
With the above background in mind, Saland Law is pleased to share two separate results for clients arrested for Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, aka, CPW 4, in Manhattan.
Little did I know that after prosecuting three men for blackmailing former NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony all the way back in 2004-2006 during my days as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, that my experience leading that investigation into Grand Larceny by Extortion would become the catalyst to develop a niche practice representing Extortion, Blackmail, Sextortion, Stalking, Harassment, and Revenge Porn, victims. Whether as a “fixer” handling cases outside the criminal justice system due to a client’s desire to keep matters private and from the public eye, and always within the four corners of the law, or presenting our cases “pre-packaged” to prosecutors leading to an indictment and even incarceration, having the knowledge and legal foundation to pursue these matters discretely has provided both emotional and financial relief to literally dozens upon dozens of clients over the years. In fact, in the past week and a half alone I have assisted three individuals, two of whom collectively paid out north of $60,000.00 to their extorters before contacting me, and another who, with his parents, reached out to Saland Law, PC before his life went sideways.