Not every person learns, behaves, engages, or speaks in the same way. That which makes us different also makes us special. Sometimes our differences are slight while other times they are greater. Sometimes we behave in a certain way while other times it is beyond our control. It is in the context of these latter folks – those who may not always conform to the “norm” due to mental health issues – that this blog entry applies.
The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC are beyond pleased to share the best criminal defense results we could have achieved for a young person suffering from, among other things, severe anxiety and mental health issues. Charged with Trespassing, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, our criminal attorneys succeeded in securing our client’s release only to this young person get rearrested immediately upon getting out of jail for striking a parent in the presence of the NYPD. This second offense, resulting from sever anxiety while in custody, charged Third Degree Assault and commenced an entirely new case. Despite the allegations and law enforcement witness, prosecutors listened to our passionate arguments and recognized that there could be mitigating reasons why our client acted in this particular way in relation to both cases. The District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss the Third Degree Assault case outright and adjourn the underlying drug case for dismissal in six months. No criminal conviction. No plea of guilty. Nothing.
Without fully vetting each and every crime (that is what a copy of the New York Penal Law, your own criminal lawyer and the materials found on our website and blogs are in part for), other than the Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, each of the crimes listed above are class “A” misdemeanors. That means not only does a conviction remain on a defendant’s record whether or not they actually serve any time in jail, but the law allows for incarceration for up to one year. The easiest way to understand these crimes (this is a very basic description) is that an Assault in the Third Degree is if you strike and hurt someone, Trespassing is being somewhere knowingly without permission and Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance is possessing a drug such as Xanax, heroin, cocaine or Ecstasy for personal use.
From the onset of this case, Saland Law PC reached out to Central Booking, the NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office so they could take the proper steps to expedite the matter. While it was difficult to impress upon them the fact that a person could look physically healthy, but demanded more attention because he or she has mental health issues, part of the defense was that it was this exact health issue that was the underlying cause for both cases. It is not that we disputed our client possessed a certain drug or trespassed. Moreover, we certainly did not contend that our client did not strike a parent. After all, the NYPD observed the incident. Instead, the approach was one of mitigation and a detailed explanation, supported by medical records, of our client’s ongoing issues. Simply, our client neither was nor is a violent drug seeking criminal, but was a young person who needed continued support and treatment to overcome or cope with an illness.
Fortunately, this case demonstrates how law enforcement need not always take a strict approach to prosecutions especially where the accused has a disability, special need or mental health issue. No greater good would be served by saddling a young person with a criminal record whether not it was an easy case for the District Attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Is this case different than the one you face? I am sure it is. That said, if the evidence is not on your side, mitigation and persuasion is very likely your best defense.
Founded by two New York criminal lawyers who served as Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys, Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients throughout the New York City region.