People often ask how as a former prosecutor I can now defend people who committed crimes or are guilty of criminal conduct. While I do have the advantage of representing whomever I choose and sending a client to seek a criminal lawyer elsewhere, there are few things in life that are so black and white. Simply, even good, honest and kind people make mistakes that are criminal. Otherwise hardworking people make poor decisions at a moment in their lives that are clearly wrong, but not indicative of the person they are or can become. For that matter, and arguably of greatest import, a criminal defense attorney should not be the first person to tell you that an accusation is nothing more than an accusation. Whether exaggerated or simply untrue, history proves that we all have a presumption of innocence for a reason that prosecutors must overcome by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fortunately for an army veteran who served our country in combat overseas, Saland Law PC poked enough holes and mitigated enough alleged conduct to knock down an arrest for Third Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.35, to a Disorderly Conduct non-criminal violation.
A manager of a restaurant, owners accused our client, along with other employees, of a scheme whereby waiters and waitresses rang through certain transactions, failed to ring through other transactions and pocketed cash from patrons. In total, the accusation against our client and others was in the neighborhood of $30,000. Despite the alleged involvement of others, our client came to Saland Law PC after the police only arrested the client and no other employee.
Despite the magnitude of the allegations and the fact that the employer / owners managed to secure “restitution” from another employee who was not arrested, the complainant apparently never advised the prosecution until one of our criminal lawyers did just that. Moreover, despite securing positions and a job elsewhere, the former employer contacted our client advising that if our client did not quit the employer would reach out to the new job to have our client fired.
Upon bringing up the above issues to the assigned Assistant District Attorney who had been offering our client a Superior Court Information to a Fourth Degree Grand Larceny in violation of New York Penal Law 155.30, we inquired as to what proof existed that our client was aware of and involved in the total dollars allegedly stolen, how the employer reached that number, why the complainant only sought the prosecution of our client, how much restitution was paid by the non-prosecuted party, and why this was all hidden from the District Attorney. Was it unjust enrichment they sought from our client? Why did the former employer go out of their way to have our client fired from current and future employers? Simply, something did not pass the “sniff test.” Moreover, even if true in part or whole, our client’s illustrious and clean past was worthy of consideration when examining whether a felony conviction was the correct outcome.
Ultimately, upon sharing our proof issues and concerns, addressing the conduct of the employer on all fronts, and mitigating even the slightest wrongdoing on our client’s part, the prosecution changed their offer to one that ultimately allowed our client to plead to a non-criminal violation and pay just over $1,000 restitution, not the roughly $30,000 as alleged.
Make no mistake. Every case presents its own set of hurdles, but advocacy combined with challenging the veracity of the complainant’s allegations and financial loss, attacking our client’s involvement in that theft, and humanizing our client turned out to be the best defense and right approach to enable our client to avoid a criminal record.
To learn more about the crimes of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny and Third Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law sections 155.30 and 155.35 respectively, follow the highlighted links.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients in Embezzlement schemes and all forms of Grand Larceny. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC serve clients throughout the New York City and suburban region.