Alcohol often brings out the worst in people. On occasion we may see the smiling, happy and funny intoxicated person, but more often than not extreme intoxication leads to terrible and sometimes life altering consequences. While Driving While Intoxicated, aka, DWI or DUI, often comes to mind, fights, thefts and other acts occur which the person in a sober state would never have contemplated. A recent night of binge drinking by a Saland Law PC client resulted in one of these terrible and life altering actions that but for the diligence and efforts of our criminal lawyers, could have devastated a young professional’s career, livelihood and future after prosecutors charged our client with the violent crime of Burglary in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 140.25.
Our client, a teacher, was alleged to have climbed scaffolding and broken into a neighboring apartment building. Present at the time was a resident who neither gave permission to our client to enter the premises nor knew our client in any capacity. Upon entering the apartment, our client was accused of removing some blankets and an ottoman by bringing them out the window our client initially entered. After a 911 call, the police arrived to find our client on the scaffolding. This was not a “who did it” type case whether or not our client made any admissions. Our client was on the scaffolding outside the window at least two stories from the ground and was in possession of items from the complainant’s apartment.
Ultimately, upon being arrested by the NYPD, prosecutors charged our client with the class “C” felony of Burglary in the Second Degree. New York Penal Law 140.25 is considered a “violent crime” even though there was no allegation of a weapon or violent threat. Simply, one is guilty of this crime if one enters a dwelling (where people sleep at night such as an apartment) without permission with the intent to commit a crime. The crime itself need not be identified. If convicted, this young teacher would not only be unable to work as a teacher again, but be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in a New York State prison.
Fortunately, due to working with our client and working with the prosecutor, our New York criminal defense attorneys were able to secure an enormous deviation from the initial felony arrest charge and avoid an indictment. Our investigation revealed that the client did not access the neighboring building and apartment from the ground up, but through our client’s own window that gave access to the scaffolding. Further investigation and conversations with other parties revealed our client was highly intoxicated that evening. Moreover, there was no indication of a forced entry, a devious or malicious motive or an attempt to flee. Although the details of the investigation are too much to reveal here, evidence was shared with prosecutors about the night in question, our client’s actual conduct, our client’s impeccable history and other factors. Upon reviewing all of this and conducting their own investigation, the District Attorney’s Office determined that our client’s actions were an anomaly. Further, we argued that our client had not intent to commit a crime when our client entered the premises, but that our client’s intoxication may have led our client to be significantly confused as to where our client was at the time of the “break in.”
With all the information in hand, prosecutors agreed to move for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. This “ACD” will ultimately result in a dismissal and sealing of the case after six months. Neither a plea nor a criminal conviction, the ACD statute states in substance that the underlying arrest, in this case the Burglary in the Second Degree, is nullified or becomes and a nullity.
Fortunately, Saland Law PC’s client escaped from what could have been a horrific and life altering mistake. Whether or not we should all have our mother or father sitting on our respective shoulders as we walk through life making sure we steer ourselves to right instead of wrong, accidents, hiccups, mistake and indiscretions happen. However, for the most part they should not cost us our livelihood, families and career. Taking the time to think things through. If you’ve made a mistake, take the steps to protect yourself and your future.
To learn about violent crimes, including the degrees of New York Burglary crimes, please follow the appropriate links.
Saland Law PC is is a Manhattan based criminal defense practice. The New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC represent clients throughout the New York City region.