No matter what side you find yourself in terms of whether Jordan Neely’s homicide at the hands of Daniel Penny on a Manhattan subway was the result of a lawful response to an imminent threat, a violent overreaction by a fellow straphanger, or something in between, there is one undeniable fact – Neely’s passing was as unnecessary as it was tragic. Period. There is no other reasonable interpretation nor view. Setting aside this truth, along with the raw emotions of the incident and questions about race which permeate it, however, leaves us with an important question that needs answering: what crime(s), if any, did Penny commit.
When Queens criminal lawyers think of the “no fly list”, they very well might think of something other than individuals the government doesn’t want in or around an airplane or airport, whether JK, LaGuardia, or elsewhere. Instead of a list consisting of people, criminal defense attorneys have a different list – one consisting of Penal Law 265.01, 265.01-b(1), and 265.03, among other weapon crimes codified in Article 265. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself under arrest by the Port Authority Police, your Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT), or the criminal court papers in the event you unlawfully possessed a firearm and are hauled into Central Booking, will reveal your particular charges. Ranging from misdemeanor Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Penal Law 265.01(1), for batons, knuckles, and switch blades, to the far more serious Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Penal Law 265.03, for a loaded and unlicensed firearm, remember…ignorance of the law is no defense.
Due to the nature of the underlying allegations and elements of the offenses themselves, there are certain crimes in New York that carry with them a horrendous stigma. Both misdemeanors and felonies, many of these crimes are New York Penal Law Article 130 sex offenses and include Forcible Touching, Penal Law 130.52, on the “lesser” end, and varying degrees of Rape on the more violent side of the spectrum. While it would be hard to disagree that individuals convicted of these crimes are deserving of our collective scorn for their sexual misbehavior and abuse of another, what is unjust is our cavalier willingness to strip these individuals, often men, of their presumption of innocence. Instead of treating and holding them to the same standard we are entitled and would demand for our loved ones, we, without pause, saddle them with something far worse – not a mere presumption but a firmly held determination of their guilt right out of the box. Fortunately for a recent Saland Law client accused of Forcible Touching by a former co-worker, despite this presumption of his guilt and months of challenging the arrest, prosecutors finally dismissed the case against him on the merits.
As one of a select few attorneys with practical experience protecting victims of Blackmail and Extortion both online and off, and a lawyer with real-world experience prosecuting these same perpetrators, I am routinely asked how to stop Sextortion on Instagram, what a person can do about Sextortion on Facebook, and if there is a way to put an end to social media Blackmail where intimate images have been weaponized by a former “friend”, real or fake. Unfortunately for online victims, especially teens sextorted on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Reddit, WhatsApp, and even TikTok, the fear of humiliation and exposure is all consuming. Fortunately, however, with the right guidance and counsel, there is an out and a means to close the door on what is likely the most traumatizing experience of your and their life.
The Basics: The New York County Grand Jury
The Manhattan Grand Jury investigating former President Donald Trump is comprised of 23 New York County residents. At any given time, 16 of those jurors must be present in order to have a quorum. While the People, aka, prosecutors, call witnesses, Grand Jurors can also ask the prosecution to secure the presence of witnesses as well. Similarly, Grand Jurors can either accept or deny a defendant’s request to hear from a witness. No matter what a Grand Jury decides, an accused has a right to testify in his or her own defense. Not a trial where there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a Grand Jury must ultimately decide if there is reasonable cause to believe a felony has been committed. If they do, a Grand Jury will vote a “true bill”.
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.
Even before New York codified its “ghost gun” specific crime through Penal Law 265.01(9), any criminal lawyer, prosecutor, or judge would likely tell you that New York State had, and has, some of the strictest firearm laws on the books. In fact, possessing an unlicensed and loaded firearm outside your home or place of business, whether on your person, in your car, or even carried in the hard sided case you are checking your out-of-state licensed pistol at JFK or LaGuardia Airport in Queens, is a class “C” violent felony pursuant to Penal Law 265.03. Punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison no matter if you have a conceal carry permit elsewhere and no intent to use it a criminally, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon is one of the most serious illegal gun offenses in the state but by no means the only one. With the proliferation of homemade guns, rifles, and shotguns, aka, “ghost guns”, constructed with frames purchased online or crafted from 3D printers, New York District Attorneys and police departments, including the NYPD, now have multiple weapons in their arsenal to enforce the law and ensure compliance with the criminal code.
“Jeremy wasn’t just ‘there’ for us 24/7, his experience and character shined when we needed it most.” – Father of client accused of Sex Abuse and Forcible Touching.
When people learn that as a criminal defense attorney I represent clients accused of sexual offenses including Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching, the response is often some form of questioning of how I can represent such people along with an assumption of my client’s guilt. While there are times when the evidence of wrongdoing is strong, there are other times when claims are false in part or in whole. Accept it or not, the fact is that false claims of Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching do happen. Whether it is .005% or far greater or much less, when you are the accused, it is of no consequence. It matters not what the percentages are or what has happened to somebody else. What matters is if the allegation made against you was weaponized to punish you out of anger or jealousy, used to facilitate a favorable outcome in a separate legal proceeding or other dispute, is born from regret, or is intentionally or accidentally false for any number of reasons.
In two back-to-back cases involving extorters blackmailing their targets from outside New York State, one of whom was abroad, Saland Law’s Jeremy Saland, along with Sage Intelligence Group’s Herman Weisberg, shut down callously selfish harassers from syphoning more money from our clients after these victims wizened up and retained the “‘A-Team’ of ex-lawmen extracting victims from blackmail ploys”. Beyond putting an end to their thieving ways, both bad guys, yes, men posing as women, licked their wounds and profusely apologized for the error of their ways after being ferreted out from their wrongfully presumed shadowed corner of the internet. Very simply, upon being confronted with the grave consequences of their actions no matter where they hid, these men made it overwhelmingly clear, and repeatedly so, that their threats and demands were no more.
New York, like other states, has its own criminal statutes that regulate the possession of guns. These offenses are generally found in Penal Law Article 265. While some have been on the books for decades, others are more recent additions. Two of these crimes, Penal Law 265.01-e, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun in a Sensitive Location, and 265.01-d, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in a Restricted Location, went into effect on September 1, 2022. Whether these class “E” felonies stand the test of time and legal challenges, criminal defense attorneys and everyday people residing in or visiting New York City, the Hudson Valley, or elsewhere in the state should have a basic understanding of these laws to best ensure they avoid arrest, prosecution, and as long as four years in prison.