Advocating effectively is not as easy as it seems. Understanding the criminal justice system in a practical sense takes experience. Doing your homework on your client’s criminal case to put him or her in the best position to resolve that case favorably takes diligence. The end result, however, can be well worth all the work for both the accused and the criminal defense attorney who secured justice. In fact, for a few recent Crotty Saland PC clients, what were originally nightmarish experiences ended in closed cases, non-criminal dispositions and outright dismissals.
Many people believe that if you need a top criminal defense attorney, or any for that matter, you are clearly guilty of something. Whether that belief is misguided is fairly irrelevant, of course, until it is you who needs a criminal defense lawyer. That said, there are very few things in life as debilitating and emotionally destructive as being accused of a crime you did not commit. Maybe you did something morally wrong or maybe you did nothing improper at all, but law enforcement, such as the NYPD and the District Attorney, or a complainant incorrectly interpreted your acts or intent. Yes, where there is smoke there is often fire, but life teaches us that this is by no means a given truth.
You, the accused, have rights and the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Their failure or inability to do so means your case should be dismissed. For a recent Crotty Saland PC client employed in the banking and financial sector, a dismissal of all charges, including felony Third Degree Grand Larceny, is just how the criminal case ended not merely because our client was innocent, but due to advocacy of those same criminal defense attorneys many of us believe only represent the guilty.
At first she demands a few hundred or even a couple of thousands of dollars. Maybe he tells you he just needs some money because of an emergency, but you know what’s coming. You’re not naive. You can see the writing on the wall. Blackmail. Extortion. Coercion. Harassment. You say to yourself, “I am being blackmailed. I am being extorted. Do I hire an attorney to get my blackmailer to stop? Is there any alternative to stop an extorter other than the police? How do I best keep all of this a secret and not expose my affair, drug use, business fraud or other wrongdoing whether it is my victimizer is telling the truth or concocting a completely bogus story?” While each situation demands a different analysis as to the pros and cons of protecting yourself through the assistance of law enforcement or an attorney and private investigator, the moment you have handed over even one dollar to your blackmailer, he or she has committed the felony of Grand Larceny Extortion. That crime, Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(6), is a class “E” felony with a potential sentence of up to four years in prison. If your extorter threatens violence and some physical injury or to damage your property, the offense jumps to a class “C” felony of Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40(2). Again, irrespective of the amount actually secured from you or the nature of the property, this offense is punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison.
As important as it is to know the consequences of your victimizer’s actions, it does not answer the question as to what you should do. Do nothing and hope that it will stop? File a complaint with the police? Hire an attorney to stop your extorter in his or her tracks? While the first of these options is not much of an option at all, the New York Daily News’ story on Crotty Saland’s PC’s “Busting Blackmailers” puts one option front and center.
Any attorney who claims that white collar crimes are not as serious as those involving violence is a lawyer who likely has neither the knowledge nor experience how thefts, larcenies, frauds and other schemes are investigated and prosecuted in New York City or elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. While a theft crime for Embezzlement, Extortion, or another related offense may not require mandatory prison and incarceration upon conviction in most circumstances for first time offenders, the practical reality is that a sentence “upstate” is far from atypical. Even those who don’t face a sentence of this magnitude recognize that a felony conviction will forever tarnish their name, follow them throughout their lives and careers, and end never be expunged. Want to work in the financial sector, public sector, as a teacher, lawyer, physician, accountant, nurse or merely have a professional career? It will be a long time before you ever, if you can, run away from a conviction. Fortunately for a recent Crotty Saland PC client charged with Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40(1), Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, New York Penal Law 165.45(1), and Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(4), an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal will remove one of the most horrific experiences of our client’s life within six months.
Don’t shoplift or don’t get caught may be the best advice anyone – criminal lawyer or not – can give to someone who plans on shoplifting or even wants that angel on his or her shoulder when that spur of the moment pang kicks in. While the former is a far better choice, the reality of the world is that many people do shoplift and countless numbers of those people get arrested and prosecuted for crimes. Whether you are a foreign national with an H-1B or an F-1 visa, a financial services provider regulated by FINRA, an accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, bartender, construction worker, student or stay-at-home-mom, the charges you will likely face are the same. Certainly, destroying merchandise by tearing off security devices, changing tags, or being part of a larger crew may impact the ultimate charges you face or tenacity of the District Attorney’s Office in pursuing those charges, but assuming the value of the items stolen is $1,000 or less then the two likely crimes are Petit Larceny, NY PL 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, NY PL 165.40. This blog entry will address these potential shoplifting offenses and arrests at both The Westchester and Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York.
The Palisades Mall in West Nyack, Rockland County, is one of the area’s premier shopping centers. But having high end stores selling expensive merchandise does lend itself to a fair share of problems. Yes, the costs of some items may be prohibitive, but the bigger issues is when someone decides that while at the Palisades Mall they are going to shoplift and steal from The Home Depot, Modell’s, Gap, Staples, DSW or any of its dozens of stores. Depending on the nature of the theft, and remember you do not need to leave the store or the mall itself to be arrested for shoplifting, and the value of the property you attempt to steal, an accused shoplifter can face either misdemeanor or felony charges. These crimes range from Petit Larceny to Grand Larceny as well as the “sister” crimes of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. This blog entry will address shoplifting Crimes in Rockland’s County’s Palisades Mall, prosecution for these crimes in Clarkstown Justice Court and the potential offenses that can land an alleged shoplifter ultimately in Rockland County Court.
Black jack is fun. At least, I enjoy it…in Las Vegas. Some people like to play poker. Others simply put money – big and small dollars – on NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB games. Toss in college sports, there is no shortage of gambling opportunities. While some jurisdictions allow or permit gambling, others simply do not. In New York State there are many criminal statutes in the New York Penal Law that are both felonies and misdemeanors. Simply, New York State regulates, enforces and prosecutes illegal gambling. Vegas New, York City is not. One of the offenses prosecuted by local District Attorneys is Second Degree Promoting Gambling, New York Penal Law 225.05. This class “A” misdemeanor is punishable by as much as one year in jail. A person is guilty of PL 225.05 if he or she knowingly advances or profits from an unlawful gambling activity. What makes this crime a felony of First Degree Promoting Gambling, New York Penal Law 225.10, is that the accused either engages in bookmaking by accepting at least six bets with a total value in excess of $5,000.00 in one day or receives money or written records from another person who is not a player who’s playing or chances are reflected by these records or monies or this person receives more than five hundred dollars of money being played in any given day. A long run on type sentence? Maybe, but that is the law in the State of New York that you and your criminal defense attorney will face when or if you are charged with Either First or Second Degree Promoting Gambling. For the purpose of clarity so you can better understand the crime or crimes, this blog entry will address what it means to advance from an unlawful gambling activity.
While I am not in possession of any statistics, there is little doubt that over my years as a Manhattan prosecutors and criminal defense attorney, a significant amount of crimes involving New York Penal Law 170.20 and New York Penal Law 170.25 relate to some form of a fake identification or ID. Sometimes these arrests involve large scale rings where fake passports, drivers licenses and other IDs are created for nefarious reasons to perpetrate greater frauds involving credit card scams, identity theft related crimes or other schemes. Although still criminal, other times arrests merely involve college and high school aged kids under 21 who are looking to get into a bar, club or other event, but are under 21 years of age. On their respective faces, no matter what your purpose, as long as you have the intent to defraud, possessing a fake passport, drivers license or other fraudulent state or federally issued identification is a felony. Yes, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is a Felony. If there is any good news, many times where the accused is clearly a “kid” with a fake identification at a bar or similar scenario, the NYPD at least will issue a Desk Appearance Ticket for the misdemeanor offense of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. Whether you are issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or you are held in jail to see a judge for your arraignment, the degree or level of the crime does not change.
Now that you have spent thirty seconds to a minute reading about fake ID arrests in New York, if you want more information on these crimes I encourage you to read through this blog or on the websites below. This entry, however, will deal with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument but address the ease by which prosecutors and police can establish the minimum threshold necessary to draft a viable and legally sufficient complaint. Why does this entry address legal sufficiency? The answer is that before you pocket your fake ID or any fraudulent instrument you should be fully aware the ease by which the District Attorney can prosecute you with a minimal degree of evidence. If nothing else, you have now been warned.
A somewhat infrequently used section of the New York Penal Law, First Degree Falsifying Business Records is nonetheless not only a serious crime, but on where an arrest can land you in prison and with a felony record. Is Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree as serious as Second Degree Grand Larceny or, for that matter, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument? The short answer is no. These two crimes, PL 155.40 and PL 170.25, are class “C” and “D” felonies respectively while PL 175.10 is a class “E” felony? What does this all mean you ask? Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is punishable by as much as seven years in prison and First Degree Falsifying Business Records is “merely” punishable by up to four years in prison. That said, unlike the aforementioned crimes, PL 175.10 is often associated with more significant crimes and each time there is a falsification a new criminally chargeable offense has occurred.
With your general grasp on the significance and severity of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, this blog entry will further address this crime while also addressing the elements of PL 175.10.
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.