Sometimes bad things happen to good people. When that bad thing is being accused of a crime, arrested, hauled into a precinct, fingerprinted, and thrown before a judge, the consequences to your mental state, career and outlook on life can be devastating. If a misdemeanor accusation is horrendous, a felony arrest is exponentially worse. It doesn’t matter if this happens to you in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester, or any city, county or municipality in New York State (or elsewhere for that matter). Sadly, this exact scenario happened to a Saland Law PC client after our client was charged with numerous crimes including felony Second Degree Assault (New York Penal Law 120.05(1)), Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting (Vehicle and Traffic Law 600), Second Degree Reckless Endangerment (New York Penal Law 120.20) and other offenses. It was alleged that our client, a college instructor and professional, struck the complainant’s car at a stop light and drove off through the following red light. After catching up to our client, it was claimed by the District Attorney’s Office that there was a second accident between the vehicles driven by the parties. Finally, after pulling into a parking lot, the complainants’ (a passenger and driver) alleged that after a brief conversation outside the vehicles our client got back into the car, drove at one of the complainants and struck her. This complainant alleged that our client then drove off with her on the hood through the parking lot until she fell off. At that time, the complainant contended she suffered and injury to her nose area requiring multiple stitches. Despite these claims, the severity of the arrest and nature or the crimes, our client stood firm and adamantly denied that the events of the evening in question occurred as set forth by the prosecution and complainants. After much hard work from our criminal defense attorneys, our client’s strength and perseverance was rewarded with a non-criminal resolution.
For background purposes and to understand the gravity of the allegation and arrest, a conviction for violating Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, is significant. There is a presumptive two year minimum sentence and a maximum of seven years in prison. Whether you have a record or not, it is a terrifying proposition. When charging this crime it is the prosecution’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant intentionally caused serious physically injury to another person (New York Penal Law 120.05(1). Alternatively, although not initially charged, prosecutors had a second felony Assault theory pursuant to New York Penal Law 120.05(2). That offense occurs when you intend to cause a lesser physical injury (no need for it to be serious as defined by the New York Penal Law) and you do so with a dangerous instrument or weapon. Here, the allegation was that instrument was the vehicle driven by Saland Law PC’s client. Its worth noting that at the arraignment, the claims was magnified because it was alleged that the complainant’s face struck the windshield of our client’s car and this caused the injury (which was ultimately corroborated as incorrect).
After the felony arrest, one of our criminal defense attorneys conducted a preliminary hearing with prosecutor. At that proceeding, the complainant testified as to our client’s conduct and how she sustained the injury. Without going into detail, it was clear from the cross examination that our client did not cause the injury to the complainant as initially stated and the manner in which our client was alleged to have driven the vehicle as well as our client’s actions and that of the complainant’s preceding the strike put into question the strength of the prosecution’s case. Ultimately, although charged as a felony, the prosecution offered our client a misdemeanor. This offer was rejected outright.
After some time and further negotiations, we stood strong in our position that this was not a felony assault and there was a viable defense even to the misdemeanor crimes. Although this was a stressful time for our client, the criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC ultimately secured a non-criminal violation as means to dispose the case. Our client avoided a felony conviction, misdemeanor conviction, criminal record and any type of punishment whether it was incarceration, probation or community service. Despite the difficult process for our client as we battled the allegations, the end result allowed our client to freely move forward in our client’s life and career.
While each case is unique and the facts of every allegation differ, should you seek further information on the crimes addressed here, including New York Penal Law 120.05, either click through the hyperlink, search this blog or the Saland Law PC website.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors representing clients in New York City and many neighboring counties.