In one of the most rewarding cases I have handled as either a prosecutor or a criminal defense lawyer, I am beyond proud and pleased to share that my client, arrested for three counts of Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, and one count of Third Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.35, not only avoided imprisonment, but with great effort on his part, along with compassion and consideration by prosecutors and the presiding judge, walked out of the courtroom without any criminal record at all. Though the People moved to dismiss his case in the interest of justice, when our client, a young professional, first came to Saland Law, he faced a presumptive two years and as much as seven years in prison for each count of Second Degree Assault. Compounding matters, not only would he lose his liberty upon conviction, but he would likely lose his license and ability to practice in his chosen profession after he served his sentence.
The Arrest & Violent Felony Charges
Unfortunately, our client, who by all accounts was, and is, a smart, kind, and non-violent person, had slowly deteriorated due to mental health issues exasperated by COVID and the seclusion many of us found ourselves immersed in during the pandemic. Cut off from family and friends, these mental health problems manifested in frightening ways that culminated in his alleged theft of a vehicle he ultimately drove in a dangerous manner on the streets of New York City. Not recognizing who or where he was, or what was happening, prosecutors claimed that over the course of the evening, our client intentionally crashed the stolen vehicle into multiple cars, including a police cruiser. Seeking other vehicles out as is if he was in video game of “Grand Theft Auto”, the purported collisions caused injuries to the drivers and passengers of the three other automobiles.
The Disposition & Dismissal
On its face, our client’s actions looked malicious, selfish, and, if nothing else, reckless. However, a deep dive into what was going on with our client told a vastly different story. Simply, and to prosecutors’ credit, our collective investigation and efforts revealed that the “answer” to best handle the case was not to destroy this young man’s life but to understand why the incident occurred and to get him the help he needed to move forward in the healthiest manner. Unified in our desire to put our client on the right trajectory to address his mental health issues, prosecutors and the Court agreed that the case warranted consideration for a non-incarceratory and non-criminal disposition. In fact, all parties agreed that if our client adhered to stringent conditions, the People would dismiss his case.
Ultimately, after pleading guilty to Attempted Second Degree Assault in Supreme Court, Criminal Term, and satisfying the requirements of that plea along with heavy oversight, moments ago the Court allowed our client to withdraw or vacate his plea to the class “E” violent felony. The People then moved to dismiss the case in the interest of justice. Our client, through incredibly hard work and perseverance, proved he was a young man worthy of compassion and the opportunity to overcome the issues that spiraled his life downward and out of control. Now, this young man can look forward to a future full of opportunity, stability, and success.
All Hands on Deck & Testament to Client’s Perseverance
As much as I would like to take full credit for the final resolution of this case, and it no doubt was a “heavy lift” to secure what by any standard is an incredible outcome in light of the evidence and allegations, the plea deal and final dismissal is a testament to many things: a young man’s drive to overcome illness and seize the tools made available to him, the People for giving our client a chance to prove he was worthy of the opportunity, and the Court for its patience and compassion to see the matter through to a just conclusion.
Saland Law is a criminal defense firm founded by Jeremy Saland, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor. Prior to opening Saland Law in 2008, Jeremy served as a Manhattan prosecutor in Robert Morgenthau’s District Attorney’s Office for over seven years. Saland Law represents the accused in criminal investigations, arrests, indictments, and trials, as well as respondents and petitioners in Family Court Article 8 Order of Protection proceedings, parties in Title IX and collegiate disciplinary hearings, and victims of Extortion, Blackmail, and Stalking seeking to end their victimization outside of the criminal justice system.