In most negotiated guilty pleas throughout New York City’s Criminal and Supreme Courts, as well as town, village and County Courts throughout Rockland, Westchester and the Hudson Valley, defendants are expected to waive their right to appeal their conviction and sentence. From one point of view, this makes sense. After all, if a defendant and his or her attorney have negotiated a plea deal that they are happy with, why would the defendant turn around and try to unwind what transpired with an appeal to the Appellate Division or Appellate Term. One simple answer is that people change their minds, which is typically not a reason to vacate a guilty plea. However, that change of mind often goes hand in hand with new information or guidance from some other source – information that the defendant’s counsel and/or the sentencing court failed to provide to the defendant when they made the decision to plead guilty. Depending on the nature and importance of that missing information, the voluntariness and intelligence of a guilty plea can be called into question. Despite this, when defendants are routinely expected to waive their right to appeal as part of the plea deal, this often forecloses any otherwise available avenue of vacating that uninformed or underinformed plea.
UPDATE: WEINSTEIN INDICTED BY MANHATTAN GRAND JURY
According to a statement released by Harvey Weinstein’s counsel and widely reported throughout the media, the former producer, and arguably the most visible catalyst of the #Metoo movement, will not testify before a Manhattan Grand Jury where he will likely be charged with numerous violent felony offenses. According to Weinstein’s attorney, the accused mogul will not testify because prosecutors “unfairly denied [Weinstein] access to critical information about this case that [he] needed to defend him[self] before the grand jury[.] Mr. Weinstein’s attorneys decided that there was not sufficient time to properly prepare Mr. Weinstein.” Weinstein’s statement further read that due to “[n]ot having access to these materials is particularly troubling in this case, where one of the unsupported allegations is more than 14 years old and the Rape allegation involves a woman with whom Mr. Weinstein shared a 10-year consensual sexual relationship that continued for years after the alleged incident in 2013[.]”
Although some of the above statement likely has merit, keep in mind that prosecutors are not mandated to share all their evidence to a defendant at this stage in the legal process. A bit of a play to gain some favorable public support by asserting a lack of fairness on the prosecution’s part is certainly one defensive strategy, but not the sole or central reason Weinstein is not testifying. Instead, what is not contained within the four corners of a press release or public statement is likely why Weinstein is shrewdly refusing to exercise his right to testify.
A new law has recently gone into effect in New York State which fundamentally changes a basic tenant of New York Criminal Practice. New York was the only state in the United States that still did not allow evidence of a prior identification made by a witness via a photo array to be introduced at trial. The thought by New York criminal lawyers has always been that presentation of a photo array to a jury would suggest that the defendant has been in trouble before – why else would they have a photo of him at the time of the identification procedure. This was deemed to be unfair to the defendant and improper. However, many felt that this concern was outdated, and New York decided to join the vast majority of other states in allowing for the prior photo array to be introduced at trial, but with very strict requirements on how the photo array is compiled and how the identification procedure is conducted. Strict requirements or not, this new allowance will have a wide-reaching and significant impact on criminal prosecutions in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, and all the way “upstate” to Rockland County, Westchester County, Putnam County and beyond.
Tension between religious groups and ignorance about others’ religious beliefs can manifest its head in very ugly and illegal ways. Sometimes it is violence against individuals who share a different religion while other times the target of these attacks are the physical houses of worship – synagogues, churches, mosques, temples and other places for prayer. Regardless, New York State gives the police and District Attorneys the tools to protect people rightfully practicing their religion and their respective places for prayer. Whether punishable as misdemeanors or felonies, the following blog entry briefly identifies and discusses some of the chargeable offenses that one could face upon arrest for damaging or defacing a house of worship or obstructing those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion.
I was arrested for a felony in Westchester County. The Westchester County police charged me with Second Degree Assault. Detectives from the Yonkers Police Department arrested my sister for felony drug possession. Whether you are arrested in Yorktown Heights, Mount Pleasant, Ossining, Scarsdale, North Castle or Pelham, any felony crime in Westchester County follows the same potential trajectory from arrest and arraignment through indictment or Superior Court Information (SCI).
Although the crimes may vary – Second Degree Criminal Mischief, Third Degree Grand Larceny, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon – Westchester County felony arrests are either disposed of in a local Justice Court as a misdemeanor, violation or dismissal, or are removed to the County Court in White Plains for prosecution as a felony. This blog entry will briefly address the process followed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. Should you require further information about Westchester County felony crimes and the criminal process, consult with your criminal defense attorney.
Animal cruelty, whether in violation of a criminal statute or an otherwise intentional, callous and malicious act or acts, is simply horrendous. Whether one wears the hat of a District Attorney, criminal defense lawyer, judge or person who merely cares about the well-being of others living things, committing acts of violence and seeking to cause pain to animals is unconscionable. When you commit certain acts against animals, regardless of the size, age, or health of the same, your actions may be punishable as a crime pursuant to Agriculture and Markets Law 353 or 353-a[i]. These crimes, “Overriding, Torturing and Injuring Animals” and “Aggravated Cruelty to Animals” respectively, are class “A” misdemeanors and “E” felonies. While the former is punishable by as much as one year in a county jail, the latter has a potential sentence of up to four years in prison.
The issue addressed by this blog is to briefly describe the two offenses and differentiate the crimes.
Nobody likes an answer of “maybe,” but the practical reality to the question of whether a conviction or criminal record for Assault in New York can be sealed is partially yes and partially no. First, with the negative, New York has no provision in its criminal procedure law to expunge your conviction for any degree of Assault. However, there is a remedy for anyone convicted of a non-violent Assault (that’s right, non-violent) to seek a sealing of their criminal conviction from their public criminal record. Doesn’t make sense? Bare with me.
Assuming that you have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or one misdemeanor and one felony, the judge before whom you were sentence has the authority pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 to seal your criminal conviction subject to a few relevant and critical points as to eligibility.
There are few crimes more embarrassing in terms of both arrest and conviction than those related to prostitution. No, nobody says growing up they want to solicit and patronize prostitutes just as young boys and girls don’t aspire to become prostitutes when they grow into women and men. Simply, good people make poor choices or find themselves in situations that leaves them feeling desperate or hopeless. While this blog entry is not meant to serve as a justification nor condemnation of those convicted of New York Penal Law section 230.00 and 230.04 respectively, it simply addresses a very reasonable and pertinent question. Can my conviction for PL 230.00 or my conviction for PL 230.04 be sealed to either the public or private entities? Commencing on October 2017 the answer to both of these questions is a very clear, albeit a time consuming and detailed path, yes. With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, the court that sentenced you upon your conviction to either Prostitution or Third Degree Patronizing a Prostitute now has the authority and discretion to seal, although not expunge, your criminal conviction and case.
New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 is the mechanism by which a convict (pardon the term), can motion the court of their conviction to have their criminal cases, convictions and record sealed. Explained in greater detail throughout the Sealing and Expungement section of this blog as well as on the New York Sealing Law Information Page at CrottySaland.Com, before your attorney makes a sealing application you must satisfy a litany of factors or elements necessary for consideration. Failure to do so will result in an outright denial and rejection of your sealing motion. Briefly, some of these requirements are that your criminal convictions do not include sex crimes mandating Sex Offender Registration (SORA), violent offenses as defined by law, “Class “A” felonies or more than one felony in a two criminal conviction total allotment. Although there are more factors, this entry will address the final element listed here. What if you have two convictions, a misdemeanor and felony or two misdemeanors, in two different jurisdictions within New York State? Are you required to make to separate applications to both courts? If not, will one court hear both of your motions and which court will do so?
Westchester County is the home to almost 1 million residents and many more business and tourist travelers. Like any highly populated region, crimes occur throughout the county. One of the busiest municipalities in terms of arrests is White Plains. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor Third Degree Assault or felony Criminal Mischief, any charge, crime or arrest that is either a misdemeanor or a felony that has not been indicted is processed through the White Plains City Court and prosecuted by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office’s White Plains Branch Office. This blog entry will touch on the process, procedures and background of the White Plains City Court as it relates and is relevant to criminal prosecutions.