As of November 2018, New York Coercion laws and crimes have changed. Penal Law 135.61 replaces Penal Law 135.60 as the “new” Second Degree Coercion making the latter statute the Third Degree offense. This class “E” felony adopts much of the language from the lesser misdemeanor but adds a new and critical element that in turn elevates the direct and collateral consequences of an arrest and conviction. Although you should fully examine the law with your attorney to ensure you do not conflate Extortion and Blackmail with any level of this statute, the following provides some basic insight into the definitions, elements and punishment of and for PL 135.61.

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“Only the guilty hire defense attorneys.”

“If he was arrested, he clearly did something wrong.”

“Innocent people aren’t accused of crimes. Clearly, she’s guilty.”

Somewhat common refrains by those who have never had the misfortune of being accused of wrongdoing, whether fair or not, until you find yourself in handcuffs or before a judge it is quite easy to sit in judgment. However, when it is your name that is replaced by a docket number, the misconceptions you may have held will likely give way quite quickly. How are you going to get yourself out of this conundrum and who is the best attorney to protect your rights and bring your nightmare to a swift end? For a recent Crotty Saland PC client who found himself the subject of a wrongful arrest and prosecution, he took the right steps and debunked the myth as to why innocent people – or any accused for that matter – hire criminal defense lawyers.

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Our client, previously convicted of Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief, was sentenced in 2015 to a conditional discharge. Further, as part of the disposition of a case involving, among other allegations, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Menacing, the Court issued a five year Order of Protection in favor of a cab driver despite the fact that the complainant and our client were strangers. After moving out of New York State and pursuing a new career, the Restraining Order, not the underlying conviction, began to cause our client issues because it appeared on background checks. Wanting to secure relief from the Order of Protection that functionally served no purpose to protect an unknown person in a state where our client did not reside, the client reached out to the criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC to vacate the Order of Protection.

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When it comes to Harassment in the Second Degree, New York L 240.26, one of the most frequently charged offenses in New York City and likely throughout the State, one issue that criminal attorneys and prosecutors litigate time and time again is what constitutes a meaningful and real threat of harm. Wherever mere words are punishable by law, either civilly or criminally, vagaries and inconsistencies of law inevitably follow. Not only that, but the interaction of such criminal statutes or common law bases for civil liability inevitably run up against the very important and foundational First Amendment protection of free speech.

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In most negotiated guilty pleas throughout New York City’s Criminal and Supreme Courts, as well as town, village and County Courts throughout Rockland, Westchester and the Hudson Valley, defendants are expected to waive their right to appeal their conviction and sentence. From one point of view, this makes sense. After all, if a defendant and his or her attorney have negotiated a plea deal that they are happy with, why would the defendant turn around and try to unwind what transpired with an appeal to the Appellate Division or Appellate Term. One simple answer is that people change their minds, which is typically not a reason to vacate a guilty plea. However, that change of mind often goes hand in hand with new information or guidance from some other source – information that the defendant’s counsel and/or the sentencing court failed to provide to the defendant when they made the decision to plead guilty. Depending on the nature and importance of that missing information, the voluntariness and intelligence of a guilty plea can be called into question. Despite this, when defendants are routinely expected to waive their right to appeal as part of the plea deal, this often forecloses any otherwise available avenue of vacating that uninformed or underinformed plea.

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Can I have my firearm conviction sealed? Does New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 apply to weapon and gun crimes? The short answer to the above questions is “maybe.” Fortunately for a recent Crotty Saland PC client, the specific answer was “yes.” A complicated sealing application, after litigating an old 1980s conviction for New York Penal Law 265.02(1), Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, where the prosecution argued that the sentencing court incorrectly recorded the conviction as a non-violent offense, the presiding judge agreed with our lawyers’ motion to “expunge.” In substance, the District Attorney argued that the charges contained in the indictment were violent felonies and, as a result, the conviction was not an eligible offense pursuant to CPL 160.59(2)(a).

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What is the penalty for Assault? How much jail time can you get for Assault? For that matter, what is an Assault charge? Whether you are arrested for violating New York Penal Law section 120.00, 120.05 or 120.10, every  conviction will leave you permanently tarnished with a misdemeanor or felony criminal record. Make no mistake. When you find yourself before a Manhattan Criminal Court Judge, Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge, a White Plains City Court Judge or a Justice Court Judge in North Castle, Scarsdale, Nyack, Brewster or anywhere in the Hudson Valley, there is much on the line. The following answers to some fairly basic questions can provide you with the foundation you need to work with your criminal attorney and best ensure your defense is the right one to minimize your exposure.

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It is a crime to use a computer without permission? The short answer is “depends.” if a person uses your computer without authorization he or she is potentially committing a crime. Of course, that statement needs clarification on many levels. First, must permission be express and is permission to use a computer carte blanche authorization to access anything and everything therein? Second, what the heck is a “computer” as it relates to the New York Penal Law? The answer to these questions and more is either codified in New York Penal Law Article 156 or the case law that interprets the criminal code. The following blog generally addresses the above questions and can serve as guidance for further discussion with a computer crime attorney.

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Since New York CPL 160.59 went into effect in 2017, many hard working and honest people have asked, “Can I seal my old criminal conviction or get it expunged?” Once they realize that they can, their asks routinely morph into, “How do I seal my criminal record?” While the process is not overly complicated to the untrained eye, attention to detail and the proper application of the law is critical. After all, you only get one bite out of the proverbial apple. Fortunately for clients who retained Crotty Saland PC to seal their respective misdemeanor and felony records, “can” and “how” are questions of the past. No longer haunted by past wrongdoing north of a decade old, their criminal convictions are sealed to the public, friends, and employers.  From Forgery in the Second Degree to  Attempted Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, class D and C felonies, to lesser misdemeanor crimes, our New York conviction sealing lawyers are proud to provide closure to our clients’ shameful pasts and an end to the painful stigma they endured for years.

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Even though RICO crimes are not prosecuted by the New York State Attorney General or by one of the many District Attorneys such as those in the boroughs of New York City, organized crimes does not get a pass in the State of New York. While large-scale schemes, whether they involve crews or organizations, routinely involve allegations of Money Laundering, Criminal Tax Fraud, Grand Larceny and other offenses, the underlying acts and how they violate the law are not always the central component of these prosecutions. Instead, even if the crime or crimes committed don’t amount to a more serious felony, law enforcement in New York has a weapon in its enforcement arsenal that exposes an accused to significant incarceration post-indictment. This New York version of RICO is Enterprise Corruption, New York Penal Law 460.20.

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