While being selfish is not criminal, is potentially exposing others to the coronavirus, knowing that you may be infected with COVID-19, a violation of the New York Penal Law? What if you were concerned enough to be tested for the coronavirus and were awaiting the results? What if before you confirmed one way or another whether you were sick and infected, you boarded a JetBlue flight from New York’s JFK Airport to West Palm Beach, Florida? What if that plane carried 114 passengers and crew? What if there were countless news reports about voluntary quarantines, the concerns over air travel, how the disease spreads, and, most importantly, the potential for illness or even death? Sadly, this is not a “what if” hypothetical. The real questions should be whether this passenger committed a crime, and more specifically, Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 120.20.
At his State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally rolled out his proposal to codify the Hate Crime Anti-Terrorism Act and combat anti Semitic and other discriminatory attacks. Encompassing more stringent elements than his late summer consideration of the law, the Governor views this future offense as a class “A1” violent felony. The statute, if passed by the legislature and ultimately incorporated into the Penal Law, would be punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole.
While by no means an examination of the law since none has yet been codified, the following is a brief review of the potential crime as addressed in a recent New York Law Journal article.
One of the fundamental distinctions in Family Law that often goes overlooked by the lay person and is only truly understood when a Family law attorney or New York child custody lawyer is consulted, is physical vs. legal custody as addressed in New York Family Court Act Article 6. Generally speaking, physical custody has to do with where the child or children primarily reside, and legal custody has to do with decision-making and child-rearing issues. While joint physical is fairly uncommon, due to the obvious practical difficulties for a child in many common circumstances, so-called “joint” legal custody is much more frequently ordered and/or agreed to. To a substantial degree, getting the visitation or “parental access” right is critical to making joint custody work.
A law that without question has a good intent and goal, New York City’s Right of Way law, codified as Administrative Code 19-190, has seen its fair share of legal challenges by criminal defense lawyers throughout the City of New York. Although the law that has criminal sanctions does not apply to the State of New York, those drivers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens are within the law’s jurisdiction. A recent Appellate Term Decision from the Second Department did not ultimately address the constitutionality of NYC Admin. Code 19-190, but whether a bare minimum complaint reciting the statute with limited factors sufficiently and legally supports this non-New York Penal Law crime.
As embarrassing a Drunk Driving, DWI or DUI arrest in New York may be, a conviction for any VTL 1192 crime is exponentially worse. Not only is there potential for incarceration and jail as well as significant fines and fees, a plea or post trial conviction for VTL 1192 also will result in a suspension of your license to drive and an installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. In some situations it is not merely the suspension you will have to contend with, but a revocation of your drivers license in New York by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV.
Revocation of your license for a first time offender for a DWI crime usually involves the offense of VTL 1192.3, sometimes known as either Common Law DWI or a Refusal DWI. The latter of these “types” of DWI, and the subject of this blog entry, addresses those crimes where you, after being advised of your rights and the consequences of failing to comply with a request to “blow,” refuse to provide a breath sample. More specifically, this blog addresses how, if all, your refusal can be used against you in a criminal prosecution.
The types of drugs that routinely flow through New York City and throughout other New York municipalities range from unlawfully possessed prescription drugs such as Oxy and Adderall to the more common cocaine, heroin, MDAM, Ecstasy and Molly. The law is generally clear and a criminal defense attorney you need not when determining what controlled substances you can (or cannot) possess. For that matter, you neither need a drug lawyer nor your mother to advise you that you can’t have any of these narcotics barring a prescription (or at all) unless your goal is trying to violate a New York drug crime.
You may enjoy getting hopped up, rolling, taking a bump or just getting annihilated and, by all means, that is your decision. It is not my job, as a criminal lawyer, to be your father and lecture you on the ills of drug use and abuse. Its my job to help you when you call me panicked after your arrest. That said, before doing so, just hear me out. Know that there are very real consequences to your actions well beyond those that may land you in handcuffs and before a judge.
Brief pseudo-lecture aside, the purpose of this blog entry is not to address the direct and collateral consequences to drug use and arrests in New York, but to make it clear how low the threshold is for prosecutors to proceed on criminal charges when you are accused of violating New York Penal Law 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. In fact, as this blog will make clear, neither Assistant District Attorneys nor police officers need to actually test the drug in any capacity to draft a legally sufficient complaint charging you with this drug crime. What does this mean to you? The law can take you right past Go and directly to Jail in the game of Monopoly that has unfortunately become your life.
In the State of New York a violation is defined as an offense for which a defendant can be sentenced to no more than 15 days in jail. Disorderly Conduct (New York Penal Law 240.20) is a violation of the New York State Penal Code. A Disorderly Conduct conviction can have wide ranging consequences for most people ranging from community service and fees to incarceration (not likely in most scenarios) and damage to a professional career. Disorderly conduct should only be charged when you act in a way that provokes public disorder. Furthermore, you can be charged with Disorderly Conduct as long as you intend to cause “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creat[e] a risk thereof.” Therefore, if you do not provoke or intend to provoke, public disorder then a Disorderly Conduct arrest should not stand on its own two feet. This was exemplified in the case of People v. Zuckerberg.
In our last post, we discussed the history and tactics of the Department of Justice’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force. We also talked briefly about the recent Healthcare Fraud nation-wide “takedown.” But as we also mentioned, this was not one giant case involving 90 defendants, but rather dozens of cases, scattered throughout six different cities. Each one of those cases has a different history; a different story. From a practical perspective, it can be instructive to take a look at all the cases charged in a particular Strike Force city to get a feel or a sense of what types of cases are being brought there and how the government investigates healthcare fraud differently in different places. In this installment, we’ll start off by looking at the four cases brought in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
Not that you’ll find many sympathetic ears to listen to this complaint, but if you are accused of or arrested for a New York DWI or DUI crime, things continue to lean in favor of local prosecutors. Forget the fact that those in government are considering lowering the legal limit for a drunk driving crime to .05 or .06 (I have heard rumors of both), New York courts are making it easier for the police and Assistant District Attorney’s to use previously inadmissible evidence of driving while intoxicated at trial over the objection of New York criminal defense attorneys and New York DWI lawyers. One such example that both you and your criminal lawyer or DWI attorney need to be aware of is the potential admissibility of a portable breath test (PBT) results taken at the time and place of your arrest. This evidence (it can be terribly damning) can and will be a tool for prosecutors to achieve convictions for crimes including VTL 1192.3.
In People v. Carlos Palencia, 1490N-12, NYLJ 1202604831232, at *1 (Co., NA, Decided June 10, 2013), the court addressed the admissibility of the PBT used at the scene of an arrest as proof in People’s direct case. There the defendant was charged with VTL 1192.2. While courts are mixed, many say the PBT can solely be used to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest while other courts are permitting its use as direct evidence of intoxication assuming the proper legal foundation is established first. In an interesting twist, however, the prosecution sought to introduce the PBT results in Palencia for a different reason than those described above. That is, Mr. Palencia did not “blow” into an intoxilyzer (breathylizer) and the data was not needed to established he violated VTL 1192.2 by having a BAC .08 or higher. Instead, the People sought to introduce the evidence as to the defendant’s state of mind. More clearly (in non legal jargon), it was the prosecution’s position that the fact that the defendant knew what he blew at the scene should be used to established the defendant’s state of mind (guilty knowledge) when he refused to provide a legal sample back at the police station. Because he knew he was intoxicated at time one, he refused to blow (according to prosecutors) at time two.
Bribing a public official to get your way in New York–whether it be a police officer in Brooklyn, a New York City councilman in Manhattan or some government official in Westchester County– can easily result in a felony conviction. While it is undeniable that at certain points in New York’s infamous history bribing public officials was an accepted practice, New York has come a long way since the days of “Boss Tweed” and the corruption of Tammany Hall. Most New Yorkers don’t necessarily need an accomplished New York attorney to tell them what a bribe is, but clarifying the legal definition of Bribery in the New York Penal Law is something that should be fully examined with the assistance of a New York criminal lawyer. Article 200 of the New York Penal Code sets forth “Bribery Involving Public Servants And Related Offenses.” A person is guilty of Bribery in New York when they offer or give any benefit to a public servant with an understanding that the public servant will be influenced and thereby change their action (e.g. a vote, an investigation etc.). In other words, if you give money to a councilmen influencing him to vote to approve your zoning change, you have committed Bribery under New York law. The degree of Bribery (Third Degree Bribery – NY PL 200.00; Second Degree Bribery – NY PL 200.03; or First Degree Bribery – NY PL 200.04) depends on the value of the bribe given, as well as the purpose of the bribe. For instance, any bribe made for the purposes of influencing an investigation, arrest, detention, prosecution or incarceration of a class A felony will automatically constitute Bribery in the First Degree. This is a class B felony with a mandatory term of incarceration punishable up to a maximum of twenty-five years. As you can see, Bribery in New York City and across the State is not to be taken lightly.
Bribery is often times a white collar crime and seen in the context of a businesses or individual trying to influence politicians or other City agencies to gain a profit for themselves. Such corruption is not just a thing of mafia movies and thrilling novels (although, Bribery is often associated with Enterprise Corruption). A great example of such a Bribery case in New York is People v. Mitchell, 40 App. Div.2d 117 (1972). Mitchell worked for a garbage disposal company which held the contract for the City of Troy. Mitchell met with the Mayor of Troy, offering $500 a month if the mayor used his influence to keep the garbage contract with Mitchell’s company. Wisely, the Mayor recorded the conversation and thus Mitchell was convicted of Bribery in the Third Degree (NY PL 200.00). A pretty clear cut case of bribery. Nonetheless, notice here that Mitchell only made an offer hoping that the mayor would use his influence to get others to vote along with him. There was no money exchanged and it was not a guarantee that Mitchell’s garbage company would receive the contract. This illustrates that one can be convicted of Bribery with just an offer, hoping to garner influence from the public servant.