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 Crotty Saland 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.
New York, like all other states, has its own means to determine whether individuals can be arrested and charged as co-defendants for a particular crime. Obviously, merely being present when a crime is committed by another person is not legally sufficient enough to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (although, do not be shocked if you are arrested and later have to fight to have the matter dismissed). Because presence alone is not enough, what do New York criminal defense attorneys review to determine if an accused’s conduct reaches the level of acting in concert or accomplice liability in any New York arrest?
Addressed in the context of a marihuana (marijuana) sale, In People v. Ramirez, 2013NY046507, NYLJ 1202624767720 (Crim., NY, Decided September 27, 2013), a separately-charged individual sold marihuana to an undercover officer and then, according to another police officer, that individual handed money to the defendant as “part of the above-mentioned transaction.” Afterward, a police officer attempted to place the defendant under arrest, but the defendant ran 1-½ city blocks, refusing to be handcuffed. The defendant’s actions resulted in the arresting officer sustaining injuries. Subsequently, the defendant was charged with Criminal Sale of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 221.40), under the theory he acted in concert with or as an accomplice to the separately-charged individual (the principal), and Resisting Arrest (New York Penal Law 205.30). While the defendant made a motion to dismiss both charges, the court only dismissed the marihuana crime.
Every criminal arrest or conviction has a collateral consequence. Obviously, some are more severe than others. While an arrest can be humiliating, a conviction can strip us of many rights we take for granted, destroy our ability to continue in our career or set a chain of events into action that ultimately result in our deportation. One crime that often has these secondary consequences is the New York felony crime of Second Degree Unlawful Surveillance. Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 250.45, is routinely viewed by prosecutors in an extremely different light than the accused (as noted by the intensity of these prosecutions). While a defendant may argue this was a crime of opportunity by an otherwise “good” person, a police officer, detective or Assistant District Attorney, is more likely to view this crime as a premeditated and malicious act. Yes, your criminal lawyer or Unlawful Surveillance defense attorney may seek to convince a prosecutor that the recording was one act, a prosecutor may counter that it was many acts. In fact, it is fairly common for prosecutors to execute search warrants on mobile phones and other recording devices. When or if they find evidence of the current arrest charge or past acts, its is equally common for prosecutors to stand firm with a felony charge.
Irrespective of the above arguments in an Unlawful Surveillance case by either your criminal lawyer or the prosecutor, avoiding a felony conviction is critical. Yes, a felony can land in prison, but long after your case is over, NY PL 250.45 has significant ramifications. New York State Correction Law § 168-a[e] establishes that a person convicted of subdivision two (2), three (3) or four (4) of New York Penal Law 250.45 is a “sex offender.” As such, if you are convicted, like a rapist or child molester, you must comply with the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”). While your level may not be as high as those individuals convicted of the crimes I just mentioned, to a certain extent, registration is registration. The level wont matter to your neighbors, employer, etc. You are deemed a sexual predator by society.
Whether its the Administration of Children’s Services (also called “ACS”), the New York City Police Department or a prosecutor from Manhattan to Brooklyn or anywhere in the State, being accused of a crime that endangers or threatens a child’s well being is a serious matter. Arguably, even the mere allegation without an arrest for Endangering the Welfare of a Child (New York Penal Law 260.10) is enough to brand you in your community, neighborhood or building with a “scarlet letter.” Its is safe to say that at the first sign of any investigation or impending arrest, consulting with your Child Endangerment lawyer or criminal defense attorney may be one of the smartest moves you can make. After all, even your innocent and reasonable statement in your own defense can be construed as something more sinister.
Beyond discussing the allegations of child neglect or even a more serious criminal Assault against a child with your New York criminal defense attorney, educating yourself on the criminal statutes and how courts interpret the laws is also critical. What is the threshold for Endangering the Welfare of a Child? How far must you go and must your actions be intentional? The following recent case decision may not answer every question you have about this “A” misdemeanor, but certainly sheds light on how non-violent conduct can land you in jail for up to one year.
An arrest in New York for Endangering the Welfare of a Child is one of the more serious misdemeanor crimes in the New York Penal Law. Generally speaking, its not that one “A” misdemeanor is more serious than another (all “A” misdemeanor crimes are punishable by as much as one year in jail), but when an crime, charge or arrest involves children, both courts and prosecutors pay much closer attention. Add this practical reality to Endangering the Welfare of a Child prosecutions and you will quickly realize that the police (NYPD and others), may be inclined to make an arrest for New York Penal Law 260.10 first and then ask the deeper and more relevant questions later. Whether this is the situation for your NY PL 260.10 arrest, a New York criminal lawyer is likely a necessity not only to get you limited bail or released from custody, but to ascertain whether the allegations against you form a legally sound complaint of a Child Endangerment crime.
In terms of your own New York Child Endangerment lawyer or NYC criminal defense attorney implementing the best defense, he or she must have a firm grasp on the law. Certainly, it would help if you, the accused, had the same comprehension. Boiled down to its basic elements, Endangering the Welfare of a Child occurs under the first subsection (NY PL 260.10(1)) when you act knowingly in a way that is likely to be injurious to a child (who is less than 16 years old) in terms of their physical, mental or moral welfare. Alternatively, you direct or authorize that child to engage in an occupation where a substantial risk or danger to that child’s life or health is exists.