Even before New York codified its “ghost gun” specific crime through Penal Law 265.01(9), any criminal lawyer, prosecutor, or judge would likely tell you that New York State had, and has, some of the strictest firearm laws on the books. In fact, possessing an unlicensed and loaded firearm outside your home or place of business, whether on your person, in your car, or even carried in the hard sided case you are checking your out-of-state licensed pistol at JFK or LaGuardia Airport in Queens, is a class “C” violent felony pursuant to Penal Law 265.03. Punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison no matter if you have a conceal carry permit elsewhere and no intent to use it a criminally, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon is one of the most serious illegal gun offenses in the state but by no means the only one. With the proliferation of homemade guns, rifles, and shotguns, aka, “ghost guns”, constructed with frames purchased online or crafted from 3D printers, New York District Attorneys and police departments, including the NYPD, now have multiple weapons in their arsenal to enforce the law and ensure compliance with the criminal code.
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.
If George Orwell’s satirical theory of equality in “Animal Farm” applied to the New York Penal Law, then all knives would be created equal even if certain knives were more equal than others. Fortunately, as any criminal lawyer knows, the Penal Law does not allow for such untenable situations where no matter the knife or blade, possession would always constitute a misdemeanor or “more equal” felony offense. That said, and as routinely addressed by defense attorneys, depending on the blade in question, such as a switchblade that is a per se violation of PL 265.01(1), some knives are automatically considered weapons while others mandate that they are both “dangerous” as prescribed by law and intended to be used in an unlawful manner. These latter violations fall under PL 265.01(2).
In a recent Manhattan Criminal Court case, a presiding judge found that a knife disguised as a pen, aka, a penknife, did not violate the law as pleaded in the accusatory instrument and, therefore, dismissed the case for a lack of legal sufficiency. Evidently, all knives really are not created equal.
While the law is clear and known to criminal lawyers practicing throughout the New York City region, when one thinks of menacing behavior one often thinks of threats with words, body, weapons or some combination of the three. Despite what those outside the legal profession may think, the Penal Law and court decisions that define the crime of Menacing is clear. Words alone are insufficient. More is needed. In a recent decision addressing the sufficiency of Third Degree Menacing, New York Penal Law 120.15, a trial court once again examined the statute providing further clarity to an often litigated section of the Penal Law.
Menacing in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 120.15, is a B misdemeanor in New York punishable by up to 90 days in jail. “Menacing” refers to a crime in which a person intentionally places another person in fear for their physical safety by “physical menace.” The question then follows, “What is physical menace and how do New York courts interpret the Penal Law with regard to menacing?” The answer seems simple enough (but as your criminal lawyer can attest to, nothing in the New York Penal Law is so simple) – some physical act that is menacing. As generic and easy as that sounds, this leaves a good deal of room for interpretation. If a person calmly reaches into their pocket, it’s certainly a physical act, but is it menacing? The answer will almost always depend on the particular facts and circumstances of a given case.
More than most crimes in New York, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, New York Penal Law 260.10, is a nebulous and vague charge that leaves a great deal of discretion and interpretation in the hands of the prosecutor and the judge. The most commonly invoked section of the Endangering statute in New York is the allegation that the accused person knowingly acted “in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child.” Not only is this standard difficult to pin down, but it is seemingly subject to the disparate and constantly changing landscape of cultural norms, even between different areas of New York State. Modern psychology leaves no doubt that aggressive and repeated arguments between parents in the presence of a young child can lead to long-lasting psychological trauma, but is a District Attorney going to prosecute two parents criminally for fighting a lot? What about a parent who keeps marijuana for personal use in a desk drawer of their home office? What is enough to rise to level of acts that are likely to harm a child psychologically or “morally?”
I’m looking to buy some Percs, Zanz, Blue Bus or White Girl Study Buddies. Where can I get some Blue Bars, Oxy or something more “exciting” like Ski, Tina or M30? Whether you want to buy or sell Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Heroin, Cocaine, Suboxone, Ecstasy, Percocet, Crystal Meth, or just about any other prescription drug, controlled substance or narcotic, Craigslist and other online forums including Reddit can not merely point you in the right direction, but serve as your online pharmacy of substance abuse. As sneaky as Craigslist pharmacists think they may be by placing “no law enforcement” or “I’m not a cop” in their advertisement, the posts are as brazen as they are inviting to law enforcement and prosecutors.
As a criminal defense lawyer representing clients in drug crimes involving unlawful prescription drug sales and possession, its is my duty to represent a client to the fullest of my ability regardless of the accused conduct. After all, the burden always remains on the prosecution to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Every accused has due process rights that, regardless of the allegation, must never be violated. However, know that it is not my job to also serve as your parent and give you a proverbial pat on the back. An apologist for illegal conduct I am not. While the best defense is abstaining from using, buying, distributing or selling drugs and controlled substances, knowledge of the New York Penal Law, even after the fact, can assist in identifying and implementing the strongest defense to avoid the full force of New York’s criminal justice system.
A routine and common sentiment heard by New York City Desk Appearance lawyers is that an appearance ticket, aka, DAT, is not a big deal. After all, a DAT is not an arrest and misdemeanor crimes don’t stay on the record, right (wrong!)? So, why worry? Why would you retain or hire a lawyer in New York City for a Desk Appearance Ticket? Better asked, should you get an attorney for an appearance ticket in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx? In one word, “yes.”
While a New York Desk Appearance Ticket may charge a lesser crime, each and every misdemeanor or felony upon a conviction will result in a lifelong public criminal record searchable and reviewable by Homeland Security, any and all immigration authorities, potential creditors, future employers, and just about anyone who does a background check for co-op apartment, medical and professional licensure or merely because they want to dig into your history.
Because criminal convictions in New York are never expunged (they can be sealed pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 depending on the crime and whether it is ten years old or more), it behooves you to take your DAT seriously. Are you a legal resident or a foreign national with a visa? An attorney admitted to a state’s bar? A college student set to graduate and seek employment? Regardless of who you are or what your background is, taking the steps today to challenge or mitigate your criminal allegations and arrest can save you a lifetime of “I should haves” and “Why didn’t Is.”
I was given a Pink Summons for Disorderly Conduct, is that considered an arrest? A police officer gave me a white Desk Appearance Ticket after being held at Century 21 for shoplifting, was I arrested? Reasonable questions associated with what may be a once in a lifetime mistake, “white tickets” and “pink tickets” are distinct mechanisms to land you, an accused offender, before the criminal courts of New York City. While a pink summons is returnable to 1 Centre Street or 314 West 54th Street for Manhattan infractions, 1 Centre Street for Brooklyn violations and 120-55 Queens Blvd. for Queens offenses, they are quite different than their white Desk Appearance Ticket counterpart. Yes, you might find yourself at Midtown Community Court at 314 West 54th Street along with someone issued a pink summons, but Desk Appearance Tickets, a/k/a, DATs, are generally prosecuted in the criminal courts of 100 Centre Street for Manhattan, 120 Schermerhorn for Brooklyn and 125-01 Queens Blvd. for Queens cases. Although the location you appear is telling, the question remains. Is being issued a New York City summons or DAT considered an arrest?
During summer 2017, a New York man, David Hedeen, was arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief when he vandalized four statues outside of a church in SoHo. The case highlights how seriously New York State and her prosecutors deal with crimes of vandalism. Simply, no statue, or any property of another person, should ever be tampered with or destroyed.
Criminal Mischief charges in New York are separated into four different classifications. Reverend Mario Julian, who is the priest at the church, stated that the damage done equaled close to $10,000. If that turns out to be true, and as now reflected in the indictment, Hedeen faces charges of Second Degree Criminal Mischief. This charge, New York Penal Law 145.10, includes intent to, and actually causing damage that is greater than $1,500. If convicted, Hedeen could face up to seven years in prison on a class “D” felony.