Sometimes good people do terribly bad things, regular people make incredibly poor choices, and bad situations find everyday people who did nothing much at all. No matter how they got there, when the handcuffs are locked around their wrists and a Grand Jury hands down an indictment, they face the same dire consequences within the confines of New York’s criminal justice system.
Regardless of the bucket a recent Saland Law client could point to, he found himself in desperate need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Facing the Class “D” violent felonies of Second Degree Assault, Penal Law 120.04, and Second Degree Strangulation, Penal Law 121.12, and a presumptive mandatory two to seven years in prison, our client, a professional working for a large organization, knew his life, liberty, and career were all in jeopardy.
After heading out of his home for what he anticipated would be an uneventful day, our client decided to stop at an established shop that, among other things, sold cannabis. Unbeknownst to our client, however, he purchased tainted, aka, “laced” cannabis. Upon getting squared away in his Manhattan hotel room for the evening, our client ingested the cannabis. Unfortunately, expecting to trail off to bed, nothing could have prepared our client for what was to happen next as things quickly went sideways, and in a frighteningly dramatic way.
At some point in the evening, our client, unclothed, left his room believing he was in a virtual reality game. So impacted by the altered cannabis, our client saw an individual near the elevators who he believed to be a CPU, computer played unit, or NPC, non-player character. Not thinking the individual was a real person, our client, in the simplest of terms, allegedly grabbed the individual around the neck and slammed the person’s head into the wall before retreating into a stairwell.
On its face, our client’s purported actions were gravely concerning. He appeared to have attempted to strangle a person in the hotel for no reason before slamming them into a wall. The altercation did not end until another person allegedly interfered. Despite the accusation and evidence, we immediately argued that our client neither intended to assault nor choke the complainant because he was unaware that the person was real due to unintentionally consuming an unknown mind-altering substance infused with the cannabis. But for the tainted cannabis, not only would he not have attacked the complainant as claimed, but none of what transpired would have occurred. While we empathized with and for the complainant and understood their legitimate fear, that did not necessitate a violent felony conviction and incarceration between two to seven years.
After proactively presenting evidence and corroborating that my client in fact purchased and used the tainted cannabis, along with other defenses, and proffering him with the assigned prosecutor and his chief, the initial decision was to nonetheless present the case to the Grand Jury due to the violent nature of the allegations. Post indictment, however, prosecutors agreed to consider vetting the matter further with an eye towards something other than a top felony plea. Skipping through the mundane, after further attorney proffers with the District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors agreed to admit our client into the ATI, or Alternatives to Incarceration, program. Pleading to Second Degree Strangulation, our client was given the opportunity to withdraw his felony plea upon successful completion of mental health and drug abuse counseling. Further, prosecutors required that our client maintain employment or seek the same, along with other mandates. If he completed the program successfully, the Court would allow our client to plea to a lesser felony or misdemeanor and potentially have the entire case dismissed. Fortunately, after demonstrating month after month that he was dedicated to changing his life and fulfilling his obligations, prosecutors not only agreed to allow our client to withdraw his plea, but to dismiss the case in advance of the scheduled completion date.
As much as Saland Law wants to take full credit for what was objectively an incredible disposition to a case that on its face warranted a felony conviction, and we undoubtedly advocated for our client to put him in the place to avoid a criminal record, he carried himself over the finish line through dedication, hard work, and, very simply, believing in himself. With our collective efforts, though he should look in the mirror and be proud of his own accomplishment, our client can resume his career and live a healthy and productive life free of the shame and humiliation of violent felony criminal conviction.
Saland Law is a criminal defense, Family Court, and Title IX law firm founded by Jeremy Saland, a former Manhattan prosecutor. To learn more about the violent crimes of Second Degree Assault and Second Degree Strangulation, follow the links above. Additional case results are available through the associated link.