Maybe you stole a handful of COVID-19 vaccine cards when you got your Moderna shot. Maybe you made some fake vaccination cards and created a totally fraudulent one that looks like the real deal when you got your first and only Pfizer injection. You don’t need a criminal defense attorney to brainstorm the countless ways you could make a few dollars selling your wares or how you could use one of these counterfeit vaccination documents to satisfy an employer’s mandate, gain entrance into some type of venue, or demonstrate your “jab” status wherever it may be required. For that matter, if you want to dupe the State of New York and get yourself an Excelsior pass based on a Johnson and Johnson vaccine you never received, there is no doubt a way to handle that too. The reality, however, is if you get arrested in New York City’s Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island, or the police charge you in Westchester’s White Plains, Rockland’s New City, or anywhere from Putnam to Dutchess and beyond for a counterfeit COVID vaccination card, you should expect that the local District Attorney is going to take the matter quite seriously. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and use the ole’ Google and see for yourself.
Whether you believe New York Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, aka, the “Police Shield Law”, was necessary to protect police officers, corrections officers, and firefighters from misuse of their personnel information or you supported the statute’s repeal because withholding or making it difficult to secure disciplinary records was an impediment to fair trials and justice, the New York City Police Department took an enormous step in its promise for more transparency. Although police departments across the state – from Nassau County to Erie County and everywhere in between – must determine how to comply with the repeal and the means by which this information is made available and accessible, the online NYPD Personnel Database contains officer profiles, a trial decision library, trial calendars, information about complaints by members of the public against police officers to Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), a Discipline Matrix, and information about civil lawsuits alleging misconduct.
In criminal matters, where defense attorneys could use findings of misconduct and disciplinary sanctions to impeach a police officer or detective testifying at trial, the above materials could be incredibly valuable. At the same time, a complaint against an officer is not proof of wrongdoing just as the same holds true for the accused in a criminal proceeding. Instead, a case by case, or officer by officer, analysis accompanied by actual findings is paramount.
Crotty Saland PC is pleased to once again announce that Super Lawyers has recognized Elizabeth “Liz” Crotty and Jeremy Saland as leaders and top attorneys in the New York City region for criminal defense. Former Manhattan prosecutors who kicked off their career in 2000 as rookies in Robert Morgenthau’s Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, both Liz and Jeremy have a record of success on both sides of the criminal justice system, as Family Court attorneys, Title IX and Code of Conduct advisors, victim advocates in the area of Revenge Porn, Stalking, and Extortion, and other matters both in and outside the court system. Trial attorneys who earned their stripes in the trenches of NYC’s courts, Liz and Jeremy are proud that their record and colleagues’ support once again earned them this well-deserved recognition.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has issued many executive orders that touch on everything from evictions, to criminal rules such as speedy trial rights, to restrictions on bars and restaurants. One of the more recent executive orders issued on June 18, 2020 allows for liquor licenses to be immediately revoked if a bar or restaurant violated any of the reopening guidelines such as social distances of employees wearing masks. Another executive order issued the same day makes these same establishments responsible for the outdoor areas immediately outside their places of business. While criminal lawyers and liquor license attorneys understand that Cuomo is far from bluffing – the New York State Police, NYPD, and State Liquor Authority (SLA) have issued dozens of summonses to many people and businesses for violating these orders and laws – the Governor went as far as creating a multi-agency task force to address infractions and offenses.
What can I be arrested for if I violate curfew in NYC? What can the NYPD charge me with if I am caught unlawfully entering a store through a broken window? Is it a felony or misdemeanor to burn a vehicle or damage a building? By no means covering all applicable arrest charges in New York City or elsewhere, the following are some potential offenses you can face if law enforcement determines your conduct violates the law and goes beyond the right to legally protest.
Commencing at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2020, New York Bail Reform, as it is commonly referred, takes discretion and authority from both judges and prosecutors and shifts power to far more strict and specifically outlined statutory guidelines. Codified throughout New York Criminal Procedure Law 500, a judge’s ability to set bail in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at the request of the District Attorney is limited and replaced with legislated standards. In fact, the language of CPL 510.10(1) is quite clear. “The court shall release the principal pending trial on the principal’s own recognizance, unless it is demonstrated and the court makes an individualized determination that the principal poses a risk of flight to avoid prosecution. If such a finding is made, the court must select the least restrictive alternative and condition or conditions that will reasonably assure the principal’s return to court.”
Although this blog entry is no substitute for understanding bail or the advocacy of your criminal lawyer at your arraignment, the following provides some basic principles and provisions that now govern the criminal justice system.
Raise the Age legislation, codified in part in CPL Article 722, has brought New York more in line with the majority of the nation in dealing with criminal charges and accusations against certain teenagers. The legislation was also largely a compromise between law enforcement and the proponents of these kinds of sweeping laws. The result, which sought to create a system where 16 and 17 year olds could still be prosecuted as adults in certain situations, is a complex system that leaves a healthy amount of grey area for juvenile and adolescent defense lawyers, courts and District Attorneys to interpret. Much of this is due to the creation of an entirely new class of offender – the “adolescent offender.” CPL 1.20(44) defines such a person as one charged with a felony committed on or after October 1, 2018 when he or she was sixteen years of age or on or after October 1, 2019, when he or she was seventeen years of age. When a person in this classification is charged with a felony, their case first goes to an adult Criminal Court where it remains, just as it always has, or, subject to various rules on removal out of the adult criminal justice system, to Family Court. These rules depend in large part on the particular crime with which the adolescent offender is charged as well as the facts and circumstances of the underlying conduct. Other rules aside, and the subject of this blog, if and when law enforcement can establish “extraordinary circumstances” as prescribed by CPL 722.23(1)(d), prosecutors can prevent a judge from transferring an adolescent offender’s case from an adult Criminal Court to a youth oriented Family Court thereby challenging the principles of treating children different than their adult counterparts.
As a defendant already under arrest or as an accused or target confronted by law enforcement during an investigation, one of the most important rights you can ever exercise is your right to remain silent. Whether you are legally in custody or you are lawfully being interrogated by a police officer, detective, state trooper or DA investigator, once you invoke this right, all questioning must cease once you ask for your lawyer. Should further statements be elicited, anything you say as it relates to the crime or investigation will not be admissible against you in the prosecution’s case in chief. If you fail to ask for a lawyer or an attorney, then you should expect that anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
With the above in mind, what happens if you exercise your Miranda Rights before one detective or agent but hours later find yourself before different officers? Does it matter if law enforcement is the same, meaning, all from the NYPD? Would you have to invoke your rights again if you changed hands from one agency to another? For that matter, what if law enforcement questioned you while in custody and were honestly were unaware of your prior demand? In People v. Roman, decided by the Appellate Division, First Department on 9/24/2019, the Court addressed these critically important issues.
With the above in mind, my words cannot accurately reflect the emotions – from anxiety and fear to joy and relief – that wash over the vindicated when the battles commence and rage until the almost literal war is over. It is the target of the wrongful, hurtful and traumatic claim that lives through these emotions who can best articulate them. The following is one such client’s review that makes me proud of my efforts and of my client’s strength while providing me with immeasurable satisfaction and relief that I delivered her the justice she unequivocally deserved.
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.