Second Degree Aggravated Harassment, New York Penal Law 240.30, is a fairly common misdemeanor crime charged by the NYPD and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys throughout the City of New York. A common Domestic Violence crime, but not always a “DV” offense, an arrestee can be prosecuted by means of a trip to Central Booking for up to 24 hours or a Desk Appearance Ticket whereby the accused merely spends a few ours in custody at the precinct of arrest. Simply, none of these scenarios is appealing.
Not a full analysis of all legal challenges and issues associated with NY PL 240.30, the question addressed by this blog entry briefly touches on what constitutes free speech and whether one communication can be grounds for committing Second Degree Aggravated Harassment if it is not a “true threat” of physical harm.
Most people know to listen to a judge. After all, he or she has the ability to change the trajectory of your life whether you are involved in a civil case or you have been arrested for any number of crimes outlined in the New York Penal Law. In the criminal context, when you miss your court date, an arraignment for a Desk Appearance Ticket, a scheduled compliance date, a calendar call for an update, or any other appearance on a misdemeanor or felony crime, the judge hearing your case will more than likely issue a bench warrant barring some corroborated reason why you could not be present. As your criminal defense lawyer will (and should have already) tell you, once the judge orders or issues a bench warrant the police are authorized to arrest you. Complicating matters, if you are outside the State of New York, you may be held without bail until a detective returns you on a “Governor’s Warrant.” Could you sit there for a week, two, more? Sadly, yes.
Outside of the simple fact that you do not want a warrant issued and the police looking to arrest you and return you to court, the consequences of skipping your court date don’t end with a warrant. In fact, depending on how long you are out and about and fail to return, prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office can hit you with a brand new charge…Bail Jumping.
New York Blackmail and Extortion comes in different “flavors” and “sizes”. These cases are often as unique as the circumstances, victims and perpetrators. Often, when there is an extortion, threat of embarrassment, demand for money or mere harassment, a victim is hesitant to go to the police even when the law is clearly on his or her side. Similarly, there are situations where the harassment, emails, calls, threats, demands, stalking or other conduct may actually skirt violating the New York Penal Law. Call the police anyway? Risk your business, name or family relationships? Are there other options that can potentially put an end to this misery? Simply, when does a victimizer’s actions violate the New York Penal Law and what if anything should, or can, you do?
This blog entry will not serve as a substitute for an in depth analysis of your particular case. In fact, it in no way will address your case but instead identify potential issues and how you can take control of a situation that may derail your life if you let it fester and grow.
Certain crimes, whether ultimately proven by prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt or successfully defended by New York criminal defense attorneys before or during trial, have a significant stigma associated with them. Crimes involving children rank high on this list of offenses, but those involving animals are not that far behind. Nobody, from New York judges to the Assistant District Attorneys who prosecute cases, has much sympathy where the allegations of an arrest or indictment involve animals. New York City may be the “concrete jungle,” but preying on animals will likely leave you locked up and facing a judge for your alleged indiscretions – willful or not. While each crime is unique, one statute that prosecutors use in their arsenal and that criminal defense lawyers find them selves challenging is Agriculture and Markets Law 353. This “A” misdemeanor, punishable with a permanent record by up to one year in jail, makes it a crime to deprive any animal of necessary sustenance, food or dink, or neglect or refuse to furnish that animal with such sustenance or drink. This blog entry will deal with the crime of AML 353 and the analysis of AML 353 in the context of case in New York City Criminal Court.
In New York, or any state for that matter, arrests involving children carry with them the worst stigma. Obviously, crimes that involve sexual or physical harm are by far and away the most serious, but the stain of an arrest can linger even if your conduct is nowhere near or similar to these offenses. While on its face Endangering the Welfare of a Child, New York Penal Law 260.10, is a “nasty” crime, your conduct need not be that significant to run afoul of the law. In fact, the New York criminal lawyers and New York Endangering the Welfare of a Child attorneys at Saland Law PC have represented more than one client over the years for leaving a child alone briefly to merely follow through with an every day activity such as running into a store for a couple of minutes. Smart? Maybe not. Worthy of a criminal conviction? No.
Well, beyond the crime of PL 260.10, even if the conduct itself is criminal, who is responsible for the child in question? What if, for example, a child was left unattended and you, as a cousin, neighbor, uncle, sibling or other party came to secure the child after the police had been called. Is your mere offer to take responsibility of the child also a reflection of your culpability for leaving the child alone? What must prosecutors do to establish the nature and extent of the defendant’s control and care? A recent decision from the Bronx Criminal Court answers this exact question.
Facial Sufficiency is a vital consideration in the field of Criminal Law (one of many, of course). If a misdemeanor information (some people call it a complaint) is facially insufficient then the misdemeanor information is considered jurisdictionally defective and should be dismissed. In order for a misdemeanor information to be facially sufficient the misdemeanor information must, when viewed in a light most favorable to the People (the District Attorney or prosecution), contain non-hearsay factual allegations providing reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense(s) charged; and which establish, if true, every element of the offense(s) charged. CPL §§100.15; 100.40[b] and [c].
Criminal Contempt is a crime that generally brings both personal attention and significant scrutiny from Assistant District Attorneys and judges beyond what one would normally expect in a criminal prosecution. Its not that other criminal cases aren’t thoroughly reviewed, but the personal and often domestic component to a Criminal Contempt case forces prosecutors to dig deeper into allegations, protect an alleged victim and even cover themselves should something happen at a later date and it is deemed that at the time of the initial incident, the Assistant District Attorney did not properly handle the case. For all of these reasons and the often very serious nature of a Criminal Contempt case, the crimes in New York of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 215.50), Criminal Contempt in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 215.51) and Aggravated Criminal Contempt (New York Penal Law 215.52) are all “top shelf” crimes in the eyes of law enforcement and know less serious to defend in the hands of even the most experienced New York criminal lawyer.
Because of the varying degrees and crimes of Criminal Contempt, understanding your exposure should commit a Criminal Contempt crime is important. Second Degree Contempt, NY PL 215.50, is an “A” misdemeanor with a punishment that can be as great as one year in a local (county) jail. First Degree Contempt, NY PL 215.51, is an “E” felony punishable by as much as four years in prison. Aggravated Criminal Contempt, NY PL 215.52, is a “D” felony carrying a sentence of as long as seven years behind bars.
While there is likely a significant amount of investigation that has yet to occur, the sad reality is that many innocent people were terribly injured and died when a Metro North train from Poughkeepsie skid, rolled and tumbled off the tracks near the Hudson Line’s Spuyten Duyvil station in The Bronx. With Engineer William Rockefeller at the helm of the train allegedly barreling over 80 mph in a 30 mph zone, reports indicate that the Mr. Rockefeller applied to brakes too late causing the death and devastation. Although much more information is needed to fully understand what transpired in the Bronx, and I am not aware of whether or not Rockefeller had alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) in his system, Rockefeller may be in for a long drawn out legal battle not just from those who may pursue civil suits against him and the MTA, but from a potential arrest and indictment by the Bronx County District Attorneys Office.
Before proceeding, it should be very clear that I have no information beyond what is provided through local media outlets. Further, in no way am I insinuating Rockefeller is guilty of any crime. Fortunately, every individual has the presumption of innocence – not guilt – on his or her side. Having said that, if a prosecution is brought against Rockefeller and the Bronx District Attorney seeks an indictment, what are the potential criminal charges?
One of the more straightforward arrests and prosecutions handled by Assistant District Attorneys in New York City as well as some of the neighboring counties is Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree. Second Degree Criminal Contempt, pursuant to New York Penal Law 215.50(3), basically occurs or is committed when you violate the language of an order of protection or what is also referred to as a restraining order. For example, if a judge of the Criminal Court, Supreme Court, County Court (outside New York City) or Family Court issues an order of protection in favor of either a complainant or a petitioner, you (as a defendant or respondent) must abide by the language of that order. If that order of protection states on its face that there can be no contact what-so-ever and you call or stop by the other party’s apartment to say “hello” or apologize for past misconduct, you will violate the order. To be very clear, any contact beyond what is permitted, whether it be for kindness or crime, will be the basis for violating an order of protection.
Now that you have a general (yet non legal) idea as to what constitutes Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, NY PL 215.50, the remaining substance of this blog entry will address People v. Jakubowski, 2013KN044821, NYLJ 1202627740970 (Crim., KI, Decided November, 12, 2013) where the issue was not necessarily what caused the violation of the order of protection, but what constituted a defendant’s knowledge of its existence in order to determine whether a violation occurred. In that case, the defendant was personally served with an order of protection by the victim/complainant in February. In June, the defendant “made eye contact with [the complainant], [gestured] with the [his] finger across [his] neck in a throat-slashing manner, and [took] photographs of [complainant]” – which was in violation of the order of protection. Subsequently, the police arrested the defendant and he was charged with Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree (Penal Law 215.50(3)) and Harassment in the 2nd Degree (Penal Law 240.26(1)). In response, the defendant made a motion to dismiss these charges.