In the age of #Metoo, an important movement long time coming, there can be unforeseen consequences when vigorously supporting gender-based misconduct without stepping back to thoroughly examine an accusation. Simply, allegations that lack sufficient corroboration or answers to reasoned questions should hold no more water than those in other contexts. As much as we want to believe any assertion of wrongdoing is legitimate, sometimes such claims are subjectively “right” because a complainant perceives it as such or they are completely fictitious. Regardless, whatever the case may be, a critical analysis of the evidence and facts tells quite a different story. For a recent client of the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC, such a scenario played out in a New York City Criminal Courts. After being contacted by the NYPD, our client self-surrendered for his arrest and prosecution by the District Attorney where the latter charged him with, among other offenses, Stalking in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law 120.45. Fortunately, and thanks to the skill, diligence and advocacy of Crotty Saland PC, a judge acquitted our client of all charges after trial.
The overwhelming number of criminal cases in New York never reach the point of trial. Whether the arrest is in New York City or the Hudson Valley, as cases wind their respective way through the criminal justice system, the District Attorney, judges and criminal defense lawyers address issues ranging from the legality of the original search and the strength of evidence to sufficiency of complaints and mitigating factors. Those criminal cases that are not resolved by a plea, reduction of charges or dismissal ultimately find themselves before a judge or jury for trial. For a recent client of Crotty Saland PC’s criminal lawyers, our client found herself charged with Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.00. The allegations stemmed from a fictitious claim by our client’s ex-husband and his current girlfriend, with whom he had an ongoing affair, that our client approached the girlfriend’s home and smashed a window in the center of a door.
When you are accused of and arrested for a crime or crimes you did not commit, fear can give way to paralysis. Whether you are charged in a New York City Criminal Court with felonies due to a misunderstanding that is based in false presumptions, or even if there is some truth but not full accuracy to each offense drafted in your felony complaint, you and your criminal lawyer have significant work ahead. Remaining frozen with fear is not a viable option.
Yes, you may have made a mistake and technically broken the law, but when all the facts are examined and evidence reviewed, the gravity of the allegations may not ultimately match the charges you face. Finding him/herself in a similar predicament, a recent Crotty Saland PC client had no choice but to “push back” in a thoughtful and respectful manner against such a felony complaint. Relying on both a legal sufficiency and mitigation defense, our client never lost sight of her/his exposure even if the the charged crimes were in part based on a wrongdoing unsupported by the evidence from a prosecutorial discretion perspective. After being charged with numerous crimes including Third Degree Burglary, Criminal Possession of Computer Related Materials, Computer Trespass and other crimes for allegedly accessing university computers and downloading certain materials, prosecutors agreed to offer a disposition that will ultimately give our client the opportunity to end the criminal case without a criminal criminal conviction dirtying his otherwise pristine criminal record.
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.
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 New York DWI and DUI lawyers at Crotty Saland PC are proud to announce the exoneration of a client arrested for drunk driving, aka, Driving While Intoxicated, pursuant to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1192.3. After “blowing” a .42 on the portable breath test (PBT), our client returned to the NYPD precinct and performed a second breath test where he blew a .6 on the Intoxilyzer. Despite blowing below the legal limit for a DWI pursuant to the per se VTL 1192.2, both the NYPD and prosecutors charged our client with the misdemeanor “common law” DUI crime of VTL 1192.3.
Although some New York DWI and DUI lawyers might argue the “fix is in” when it comes to defending a client in a DWI Chemical Test Refusal Hearing at the NY DMV with an Administrative Law Judge, simply that is not the case. While the standard in these hearings are lower than the parallel proceedings in criminal court where a VTL 1192.3 arrest is prosecuted, the lower burden of proof is not the equivalent to an insurmountable challenge. Case (or cases) in point, both Elizabeth Crotty and Jeremy Saland secured dismissals after the NYPD Officers did not provide sufficient evidence at the respective DWI Refusal Hearings. Because of Crotty Saland PC’s efforts, cross-examination of the police officers and convincing of the judges, these clients avoided a year long revocation of their license to drive in the State of New York. Obviously, the alternative resolution would have been horrific for our clients.
Before briefly discussing these specific Refusal Hearings, any time a person is arrested for and charged with a Common Law DWI pursuant to New York VTL 1192.3, the arresting police officer or member of the police department must first ask that accused to provide a breath sample. If he or she refuses, the officer in clear and unequivocal language must also advise the driver that failure to submit to a chemical test would result in an immediate suspension and ultimate revocation of his or her license to drive. Not only can this refusal be used against the driver at a later criminal hearing or trial, but even if a criminal case is later beaten, dismissed or the accused is exonerated, the finding and punishment by the Administrative Law Judge would stand. In addition to the issues addressed above, the Administrative Law Judge must also find that the defendant was arrested with probable cause and he or she was in fact operating the motor vehicle.
Whether you are at the Electric Zoo Festival on New York’s Randall Island, rolling with Phish at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, or you are merely out and about in New York City, Westchester County, Rockland County, or anywhere in the State, if you possess or sell MDMA, Molly or Ecstasy you potentially face an arrest for either a misdemeanor or felony crime. As your criminal lawyer will explain, mere possession of Ecstasy, even one pill, violates New York Penal Law 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. Depending on the quantity in your possession and whether you have the subjective intent to sell the Ecstasy, you could also face felony crimes including Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.16. Complicating matters, when you actually sell Molly, MDMA or Ecstasy in New York, the crime you face is by default a felony. Assuming the weight of the controlled substance is less than one gram, meaning just one pill, then you would be charged with New York Penal Law 220.31, Fifth Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance. If the weight of the Ecstasy, MDMA or Molly exceeds one gram, then the applicable arrest charge is New York Penal Law 220.39 assuming this sale did not occur on school grounds. This crime is Third Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance. When the weights exceed those here and as outlined in the New York Penal Law, the criminal offenses for criminal possession or sale are significantly more serious.
Because of the above exposure, any arrest, whether by Desk Appearance Ticket or felony complaint, requires immediate and professional attention. Sometimes, investigation and advocacy from the onset of an arrest can provide tremendous benefits as the matter makes its way through the criminal justice system. Fortunately for three recent clients of Crotty Saland PC, despite their arrests for selling Molly to undercover police officers at the Electric Zoo, they took immediate action to retain a criminal lawyer and fight their respective arrests for PL 220.31 head on as they worked their way towards an ultimate dismissal on the merits.
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.
People often ask how as a former prosecutor I can now defend people who committed crimes or are guilty of criminal conduct. While I do have the advantage of representing whomever I choose and sending a client to seek a criminal lawyer elsewhere, there are few things in life that are so black and white. Simply, even good, honest and kind people make mistakes that are criminal. Otherwise hardworking people make poor decisions at a moment in their lives that are clearly wrong, but not indicative of the person they are or can become. For that matter, and arguably of greatest import, a criminal defense attorney should not be the first person to tell you that an accusation is nothing more than an accusation. Whether exaggerated or simply untrue, history proves that we all have a presumption of innocence for a reason that prosecutors must overcome by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fortunately for an army veteran who served our country in combat overseas, Crotty Saland PC poked enough holes and mitigated enough alleged conduct to knock down an arrest for Third Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.35, to a Disorderly Conduct non-criminal violation.