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.
“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.
While everyone is both entitled and deserving of the presumption of innocence, when a man is charged with Sex Abuse and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, the assumption is that he did something terribly wrong. When the accuser is a 13-year-old girl, this belief is compounded, and the overwhelming majority of people will conclude he must be guilty. Why? Because there is no reason a young girl – or anyone – would ever make up such a lie, of course. Unfortunately for a recent client of Saland Law PC’s criminal defense attorneys, despite his unwavering assertion that he did not abuse his girlfriend’s daughter, it took a trial by his peers for his voice to be heard. Fortunately, however, after a nearly two-week trial where prosecutors accused our client of rubbing the young girl’s buttocks and attempting to penetrate her vaginally with his fingers, that same jury rendered a verdict of not guilty on all counts. As much as I would like to say my hard work and trial skills won the day, and that was no doubt a part, sometimes it is not an experienced criminal lawyer who enables a client to escape responsibility for his or her criminal conduct. Instead, an acquittal can simply be a just resolution on the facts and evidence, and exoneration of an innocent person wrongfully accused of a heinous crime.
Over the past few weeks, the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC successfully advocated for clients in both NYC’s Criminal and Family Courts to obtain dismissals for Attempted Extortion and Aggravated Harassment respectively, and against the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) to avoid the arrest of an autistic young man for Forcible Touching in another. An easy task it was not, but the resolutions were just dispositions welcomed by our clients and a continuation of similar successes many Saland Law PC clients have enjoyed during the past months and years.
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.
Saland Law 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.