Articles Posted in Desk Appearance Ticket

Years ago, when a detective or police officer signed off on a criminal court or misdemeanor complaint alleging misdemeanor drug or marijuana possession, PL 220.03 and PL 221.10 respectively, the law mandated that an Assistant District Attorney also secure a laboratory analysis or field test of the substance to proceed on that complaint so it become a legally sufficient information. In practical terms, if prosecutors failed to obtain a lab or field test, then ultimately the court would be required to dismiss the drug or marijuana possession charges against a defendant. Whether you agree that this was a necessity or not, criminal defense attorneys routinely used this law in the defense and exoneration of clients. Just as time stands still for no one, the law changes, shrinks, grows and adapts too. Simply, with some level of corroboration beyond a conclusion as to training and experience in the identification of drugs, controlled substances, narcotics and related “things” such as heroin, Ecstasy, cocaine, Xanax and marijuana, police officers can swear out complaints without a chemical test (it is ultimately needed in the event there is a trial). This became the “new” law that governed prosecutions after the Court of Appeals decision in People v. Kalin, 12 NY3d 225, 229 (2009).

The following blog entry addresses Kalin and the “training and experience” language not in the specific context of a drug arrest, but the possession of K2 in violation of Promoting Prison Contraband in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 205.20(1). Although not dealing with the crime of Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance or Criminal Possession of Marijuana, People v. Enelus, 2016 NY Slip Op 51093  (NY City Crim Ct. 2016) has real value to cases involving these crimes because it examines the sufficiency of language contained in a criminal court complaint and information that enables or prevents a District Attorney from prosecuting a drug related crime at the initial pleading stage.

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Its the same two nights every year throughout New York State. Mischief Night followed by the main event, Halloween. For preteens in costumes of all shapes and sizes, Halloween is about trick-or-treating and scarfing down way too much candy. For parents of little boys and girls, it is about dressing up their children for their own gratification and pleasure. For high schoolers, teenagers and college aged men and women, Mischief and Halloween nights are potentially a lot more than costumes and candy. In fact, throwing an egg at a car, spray painting a street sign, or knocking over that little yellow scooter that has always annoyed you because it managed to squeeze into the smallest parking spot on your crowded Manhattan or Brooklyn street can land you in jail facing a misdemeanor or felony crime.

What says you?! When did fun become criminal? Better ask this question now instead of getting an answer from your criminal defense attorney as you await arraignment in a New York City courtroom or a courthouse in a neighboring suburban municipality. The short answer is as follows: If you damage another person’s property, even in the most nominal way, you can face arrest in New York for Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree. Cause at least $250 in damage? You will be wishing you get a bag of pennies instead of candy because you momentary stupidity could result in your arrest for Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, a felony. This blog entry will briefly address why you should leave the Criminal Mischief out of Mischief Night and Halloween unless, of course, you have a penchant for facing criminal charges and paying money for a criminal lawyer to get you out of jail or the hot water of a witch’s cauldron.

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Challenging the legal or facial sufficiency of a complaint against an accused is a common if not routine motion made by criminal defense lawyers. When a prosecutor proceeds on a complaint it becomes was is termed an information. The information must be legally sufficient to provide for the elements of the crime charged and notice to the accused. However, the evidence or allegations contained within the four corners of the document need not reach the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold. While the standard may be fairly low, a defendant who is wrongfully arrested without the bare level of evidence should not be forced into the criminal justice system whether he is from New York City, White Plains, or New York’s Southern Tier. Simply, it is critically important to examine any complaint or information to see whether or not there are grounds to make a challenge.

This particular blog entry will address a recent decision dismissing one count of Resisting Arrest pursuant to New York Penal Law 205.30 and one count of Second Degree Obstructing Governmental Administration pursuant to New York Penal Law 195.05.

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Although I couldn’t tell you the exact number, there are millions of people who come to New York City – its boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn (technically Kings County) – on any given day. Whether they are commuters, tourists or here solely for a brief business stay, some of these people find themselves in hot water, aka, under arrest by the NYPD. If the crime charged is, for example, PL 155.25 or PL 165.40 for a shoplifting arrest at Macys or Century 21, PL 220.03 for getting busted doing a “bump” of cocaine outside a bar, PL 120.00 for a fist fight with some random stranger, or something of the felony variety which is quite more serious, they will have a date with a judge in criminal court. By Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T. or Appearance Ticket) or as a result of an all out arrest cooling their heals in the “Tombs”, if a criminal case is not resolved immediately a defendant will be required to return to court. Live in California, Texas, England, Australia or China? No, you don’t get a pass. Without prior agreement, failure to return will result in the issuance of a Bench Warrant.

So, what can you do? If you are asking yourself “Do I have to come back to court or can it be resolved in my absence,” then this blog may good place to start to understand the legal issues and process so that you can make an informed decision  with your criminal defense attorney when assessing your options. Continue reading

It almost seems as if every day we read in the papers or see in the news that a person used a firearm to kill innocent victims. Simply, such acts are horrendous and deplorable. Law enforcement should be commended for their efforts to protect all of us. With this in mind, it is also important that the courts and criminal defense lawyers make sure that prosecutors and the police respect and maintain their burden to follow the law as well whether a violation or wrongful arrest is malicious or unintentional. While most people would argue that knives are not guns in terms of potential dangers, both have the ability to be devastating weapons. In part, this is likely why District Attorney’s Offices in New York City and elsewhere take a hard stance against gravity knife and other weapon crimes in violation of Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, New York Penal Law 265.01. Whether you were issued a Desk Appearance Ticket or you have an extensive criminal history, do not expect to be offered any deal at your arraignment. More often than not, a charge of PL 265.01 remains in place until and if your criminal lawyer can articulate why prosecutors should deviate from their guidelines.

Why is all of the above relevant? The law in New York doesn’t distinguish between certain knives illegally purchased that are “blatantly” dangerous and those that were purchased as a tool at a hardware store. At bottom, a gravity knife is a gravity knife no matter where you purchase it. As a misdemeanor, this crime is punishable by as much as one year in jail and will stick you with a permanent criminal record upon conviction. Knowing all of this and reading through a bit of my rant, let’s now address the Penal Law and the crime of Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon where the arrest charge of PL 265.01(2). Does the strict liability standard apply to all knives and if not, when is a “regular” knife possessed in violation of the New York Penal Law?

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Just as different facts and evidence can result in different arrests, charges and outcomes, different courts can analyze similarly charged cases and reach different conclusions as to legal sufficiency. In the realm of fake identification cases in New York, this could not be more accurate. Very briefly, you are guilty of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 170.20, if you know that the instrument you possess is fake and fraudulent, it is fake and fraudulent and that you possess it with the intent to deceive another (review PL 170.20 for the actually legal language). The lowest of the Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument crimes, PL 170.20 is nonetheless a misdemeanor that is both punishable by as much as one year in jail and is not expunged from your criminal record upon conviction. That is correct. Having a fake ID or drivers license whether its to buy beer or something much more serious such as possessing a fraudulent passport, the crime is at minimum a misdemeanor and can be prosecuted as a felony Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument.

An issue that often pops up in arrests for fake IDs, drivers licenses and passports, is how the prosecution can prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt from the knowledge to the intent to deceive another person where the acts or statements by themselves do not reflect this knowledge or intent. In a recent blog entry I addressed People v. Hightower where the court concluded that by the nature of the particular fake military ID that had the defendant’s picture and depicted a computer chip instead of an actual one, the People satisfied their burden in establishing the defendant’s knowledge and intent to deceive another. Why else would one have such an identification? Fortunately, however, not all “hope” is lost. A similar case and decision ended up on the other side of the issue in finding that a fake international drivers license by itself did not satisfy the legally sufficient threshold.

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A fake identification is grounds for arrest whether you’re a college student at Columbia or NYU, a high school kid visiting New York City or you are a foreign national in need of some form of ID to work. Simply, there is nothing found in New York Penal Law 170.20 or New York Penal Law 170.25 that mandates an evil intent to perpetrate a terroristic or immigration fraud crime. While prosecutors in a respective District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD or local police department may pursue a criminal case however they deem fit, as a preliminary matter whenever you have a fake passport or drivers license the crime technically is a class D felony pursuant to PL 170.25. As such, a conviction not only allows for up to two and one third to seven years in prison, but a felony conviction is life altering. Fortunately (relatively speaking), in the scenario of a young man or woman who may have that ID for the purpose of going to a club or bar, as opposed to some other nefarious reason, the crime is often prosecuted through a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York City whereby the accused must return at a later date to face arraignment with their criminal lawyer on the charge of PL 170.20, a misdemeanor.

Putting aside whether a Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument arrest is prosecuted as a felony for a second degree crime or as a misdemeanor for a third degree offense, what are the elements that must first be established with probable cause and ultimately beyond a reasonable doubt? Following the language of the misdemeanor PL 170.20 that is the baseline of these crimes prior to any felony enhancements, the language is as follows: You are guilty of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument when you have knowledge that it is forged and you have the intent to defraud, deceive or injury another person, you possess or utter that particular forged instrument.

This blog entry will further analyze the crime of PL 170.20 in the context of a fake identification and the thresholds that much be reached by the District Attorney’s Office to secure a conviction.

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Most arrests involving Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law 265.01, likely involve subsection one of this crime. This offense, PL 265.01(1) is the strict liability crime. That is, if you knowingly possess any weapon and it is of the type identified in this subsection – the most common is a gravity knife or switchblade knife, but others are set forth – then you are guilty of a class “A” misdemeanor. Distinct from subsection one, but an equally serious misdemeanor crime punishable by one year in jail, Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, PL 265.01(2), involves the possession of any weapon or dangerous instrument with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person. So, if your possession is not automatically a crime due to the nature of the weapon and the law requires that you have the intent to use it unlawfully against another person, how do the police establish a violation of PL 265.01(2)? More importantly, even with probably cause to arrest, how do prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Queens District Attorney’s Office, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office or any other office throughout New York City and the State prove such a case beyond a reasonable doubt? This blog entry addresses the issue in conjunction with a recent and relevant criminal court decision.

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Some times the best legal advice a criminal lawyer can give is not legal advice at all. In fact, it can be more parental than lawyer-like. Unfortunately, just as we don’t always listen to our parents we don’t always listen to our criminal defense attorneys either. With that little life lesson behind us, try listening to this. The best way to avoid an arrest or conviction for a New York Stalking crime, whether or not it is one of the two misdemeanor Stalking offenses of Stalking in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 120.45) or Stalking in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 120.50), is to steer clear of following, threatening or harassing other people. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but what if you are arrested for merely following a person without any allegations of physical or verbal threats? Is that sufficient grounds for the prosecution to sustain a viable complaint for Fourth Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.45? The following blog entry will address this very question.

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Heroin. Cocaine. Ecstasy. Adderall. Molly. MDMA. New York’s list is long and vast. If you possess certain drugs, narcotics and controlled substances (including certain prescription drugs that you are not prescribed by a doctor), you can face a wide variety of crimes found in New York Penal Law Article 220. Even if you did not have the intent to sell those drugs (New York Penal Law 220.16(1) or New York Penal Law 220.06(1)) or actually sell the drugs (New York Penal Law 220.39(1) or New York Penal Law 220.31), possession for personal use is still a crime. New York Penal Law 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, is the catch all “personal use” offense in New York State whereby the police and the District Attorney can charge you with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail for possessing small amounts of a controlled substance.

In the above scenarios, whether you find yourself arrested and hauled into Manhattan Central Booking or are given a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket in Brooklyn, the law actually permits an officer with the NYPD to claim the substance in your possession is a narcotic or controlled substance without ever testing the substance to confirm its an illegal drug. That is right, if the officer can examine the white powder, pill or anything else and claim his experience and training tells him it is a drug, then at the preliminary stage he has just bought you at least a temporary rap sheet, arrest, criminal complaint and date with the court for an arraignment on PL 220.03. The question posed in this blog is whether the same can be said for amounts that are significantly smaller and not so clear to the eye.

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