Crotty Saland PC, a New York criminal defense firm, is pleased to announce the dismissal of all charges against a client accused of possessing fifteen forged, fraudulent and fake credit cards and gift cards. Moreover, our client was alleged to have possessed a credit card scanner. In total, our client was accused of thirteen counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 170.25), one count of Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device (New York Penal Law 170.40) and thirteen counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 170.20). If convicted our client faced up to seven years in state prison.
The police stopped the car where our client was a front seat passenger after they claimed the driver failed to signal. Upon stopping the car, the police demanded that our client exit the vehicle. At that point the police allegedly retrieved a credit card scanner as well as fifteen total credit cards and gift cards from the floor of the vehicle. The police claimed this was all in “plain view.” It was further alleged that the account numbers on the cards belonged to different account holders and were stolen. Furthermore, some of the cards had either our client’s name on them or the co-defendant driver’s name.
The issue addressed with prosecutors was not whether or not our client was aware of the credit cards or was involved in the crime. Whether one is guilty of any criminal activity or innocent of the same, the police must still follow the law. As easily as these two men were wrongfully stopped and searched, the same could happen to an “innocent” man or woman. After denying that the driver failed to use his signal to turn (this was the means for the police to stop a “suspicious” vehicle driven by two young men), we further denied that anything at all was in “plain view.” In fact, the driver of the vehicle just had his vehicle detailed about an hour or two before. We argued that claims by the police that the driver and the passenger would be so brazen or stupid to throw contraband around the car even after it was just detailed (there was no evidence of other property strewn about) was not realistic. Moreover, we explained to prosecutors that a video from the parking area where our client was pulled over would reflect would truly transpired and corroborate the illegal search as well. Finally, even assuming there was a failure to signal, we argued that a dozen or more credit cards or gift cards with the name of the passenger and driver on them does not give rise to probable cause to arrest or search a vehicle. Certainly, the police would not arrest you and your wife if you failed to signal and they found credit cards in your names strewn over the floor. Arguably, multiple credit cards in the name of other individuals might alter this, but where is there probable cause if the credit cards are in the names of the individuals in the car?.
After some time, prosecutors, likely sensing there was an issue with the stop and search of the vehicle, offered a misdemeanor. This offer was rejected. Prosecutors came back with an offer of Disorderly Conduct, a violation. This too was rejected. Ultimately, the case was dismissed in its entirety and our client has maintained his clean record.
While nobody condones criminal activity, New York criminal lawyers must ensure that police and law enforcement do not step beyond their permitted roles. A “guilty” person or an “innocent” person can each easily be stopped and searched without the legal basis or in an impermissible way. The end cannot justify the means. Fortunately, the evidence, or lack thereof, in this particular case was presented in a powerful way for our client. Certainly, this result does not and cannot guarantee a similar result in any future case, but it ended in the best possible way for this young man.
For comprehensive information on the crimes of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument as well as Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device, please follow the highlighted links. For additional information on these crimes as well as other criminal statutes, court decisions and commentary on cases in the press, please read the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog.
Representing the accused throughout the New York City area, the New York criminal defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC handle all stages of criminal litigation from investigation through trial.