Gideon v. Wainwright: Why is it important?

December 21, 2020 | Comments Off on Gideon v. Wainwright: Why is it important?

If you are arrested and face criminal charges, it is your right to have an attorney represent you. But what if you cannot afford legal representation? Read on to find out more about how one Supreme Court case changed how defendants’ rights are upheld. Background and Supreme Court case In 1963, the Supreme Court heard the case of Clarence Earl Gideon, who had been convicted of breaking and entering a Florida pool hall with the intent to commit a misdemeanor – considered a felony under Florida law. Gideon ended up representing himself during trial because he could not afford an attorney. He asked the judge to appoint counsel for him, but at the time, Florida law only permitted appointment of counsel for those accused of committing capital offenses. A jury found Gideon guilty and he was sentenced to five years behind bars. He then filed a petition for writ of…

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What is Self-incrimination and Why Does it Matter?

October 30, 2020 | Comments Off on What is Self-incrimination and Why Does it Matter?

You might have heard the phrase “I plead the Fifth,” but what does that actually mean? It’s in reference to your Fifth Amendment rights and when spoken, usually regards an important legal safeguard known as the right against self-incrimination. Self-incrimination definition Self-incrimination means to implicate oneself in a crime or exposing oneself to criminal prosecution. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Thus, invoking your right against self-incrimination is known as “pleading the Fifth.” When you invoke this right, you are protecting yourself against making any statements that may incriminate you in a crime, and you also have the right to refuse to make any statements or answer any questions that could establish your guilt. Taking the stand Most often the right against self-incrimination applies to trials. However, you may invoke this right during other…

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What are your Miranda Rights and why are they important?

October 14, 2020 | Comments Off on What are your Miranda Rights and why are they important?

You’ve probably heard this phrase in countless movies and TV shows: “You have the right to remain silent.” That’s the first line of your Miranda Rights — and thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, you have more than just the right to remain silent. Read more about Miranda Rights and why they are important.   Miranda Rights definition    If a police officer arrests you and intends to interrogate you, they must recite to you the following:   You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?   These are your Miranda Rights, which notify…

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What is double jeopardy, and why is it important?

October 8, 2020 | Comments Off on What is double jeopardy, and why is it important?

If you’ve seen any legal television drama, you’ve probably heard the term “double jeopardy” thrown around. Read on to find out what it means (it’s not a game show!) and why it’s important. Double jeopardy definition Double jeopardy means that no one can be charged and face prosecution for the same offense more than once (with a few exceptions). The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains the double jeopardy clause, and many state constitutions also protect people from being prosecuted for the same crime twice. Even if a state does not afford this right to defendants, they are still afforded this protection because the first 10 amendments of the Constitution apply to all state jurisdictions. The double jeopardy clause contained in the Fifth Amendment is designed to protect the individual from “being subjected to the hazards of trial and possible conviction more than once… the State with all its…

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Charged With a Crime? Go Silent on Social.

September 6, 2020 | Comments Off on Charged With a Crime? Go Silent on Social.

Anything you say at the police station or in the police car can and will be used against you in a court of law. So will anything you say on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on YouTube, or on TikTok. Law enforcement officers are watching. So are prosecutors. In fact, even before you are charged with a crime, police might have done their best to get at your social media accounts. Some courts have backed the rights of the police to make fake accounts to friend you so they can just read your information. Police officers have long had the ability to misrepresent themselves in the course of an investigation, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope that the courts will see online conduct as any different than in-person conduct in this regard. If they can’t do that, they’ll just subpoena the information from the social providers.…

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What to do if you’ve been accused of sexual assault under Title IX regulations

August 10, 2020 | Comments Off on What to do if you’ve been accused of sexual assault under Title IX regulations

You’ve been accused of sexual assault on campus. What now? If you find yourself accused of sexual assault or harassment on your college campus, there are steps you can and should take to ensure you receive a fair and just outcome. Get help First, do not panic. If you can, immediately begin to look for and hire a defense lawyer who can provide proper guidance and serve in your best interests as your college or university moves through proceedings. Some schools offer free legal help to those accused of sexual violence under Title IX (as well as to the accusers). Any defense attorney will tell you to seek help immediately. Don’t waste any time and don’t assume that you explaining your version of alleged events will guarantee a fair process. Even with new regulations in place, schools are still focused on the best outcome for the institution as a whole,…

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What does it mean for a misdemeanor to be dismissed in NYC?

August 1, 2020 | Comments Off on What does it mean for a misdemeanor to be dismissed in NYC?

There are many ways for a case to be resolved and enable you to walk away with no criminal record.  The case may be dismissed, dropped, or adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. While each of these outcomes has a slightly different meaning, each of them will mean you’re not going to jail and you will walk away without a criminal record.. Some of these outcomes can still have a few long-term consequences that you should know about and be ready for. Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) In an ACD, your case is adjourned for six months to one year. During that time, as long as you meet certain conditions, your case will ultimately be dismissed and sealed and your fingerprints and arrest photo will be destroyed. For many individuals, the only condition of an ACD will be that they don’t commit or get charged with an additional crime. Some…

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Domestic violence during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

June 19, 2020 | Comments Off on Domestic violence during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

Families and couples are cooped up indoors due to stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a slowdown in court operations, resources are still available for reporting incidents, and law enforcement officials are still investigating and charging individuals accused of perpetrating abuse. Pandemic stats Police in New York City say that since March, reports of domestic violence have declined. That includes crimes like break-ins, beatings and killings among couples and families. The number of reports filed fell nearly 15 percent in April compared to March. Fewer alleged victims of domestic abuse have been calling law enforcement to report incidents. At the same time, cops and social workers say that more calls are being placed to organizations that help and provide shelter for battered women and that the number of calls has increased sharply since the pandemic lockdowns began. Law enforcement considers this a sign of continuing violence behind closed doors.…

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Can a Victim Refuse to Press Charges in NYC?

June 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Can a Victim Refuse to Press Charges in NYC?

You see it on television all the time. A cop turns to a victim and says, “Would you like to press charges?” The victim stares grimly ahead, and then gives a headshake. “No. Not this time. Thank you, officer.” Does this ever happen in real life? Can victims really drop charges? What does it mean to drop a charge, and what really happens when a charge gets dropped? What are dropped charges? There are two types of dropped charges.Charges dropped “with prejudice” means the state can’t bring the same charges against you for the same crime ever again. However, they can charge you for a similar crime that happened on a different date, even if the same victim is involved. That is, if they drop the charges with prejudice against you for robbing Store A in March they can’t come back and charge you again for the same crime.  They…

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Can you face criminal charges for “Zoombombing”?

June 14, 2020 | Comments Off on Can you face criminal charges for “Zoombombing”?

As teleworking has become commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have turned to platforms like Skype and Zoom for online meetings and hangouts. While they’re convenient, these platforms can be hacked like any other website, and a new term has been coined to describe the occurrence: “Zoombombing.”  What is “Zoombombing”? “Zoombombing” is when someone hacks into a videoconference call for the purpose of distracting meeting attendees, potentially with what’s considered inappropriate or offensive audio and imagery. The FBI has received numerous reports of hackers displaying inappropriate images and using threatening language or hateful speech during videoconference calls.  In order for a group of people to start a videoconference call, they need an invitation, meeting link or code to join their coworkers or friends. The New York Times found that groups on social media platforms like Instagram and Reddit were created to share meeting access codes with plans to hijack different…

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COVID-19 as a legal argument

June 7, 2020 | Comments Off on COVID-19 as a legal argument

Courts are operating at limited capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, but some defense attorneys and their clients are arguing that the risk of contracting the disease should be cause for release. Could this pandemic set any new legal precedents? And what happens if an individual arrested for a crime knowingly has the virus and spits on or bites an officer while they are making an arrest? Risk behind bars Defense attorneys in several states told Slate they witnessed groups of defendants still congregating in courthouses after being arrested for low-level offenses. Several attorneys have tried to argue before a judge that their clients should be released due to the risks of catching COVID-19 behind bars.  Some have been successful,  but for others were shot down, with judges in different cases unwilling to “entertain a coronavirus-based argument” or factor it into their decision-making. Attorneys have argued that their clients would not have…

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Know Your Rights Before You Protest

June 5, 2020 | Comments Off on Know Your Rights Before You Protest

As of this writing protests have erupted nationwide in response to the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately your chances of being arrested if you choose to participate in one of these protests could be relatively high, whether you’re technically breaking the law or not. Still, following the law is your first defense. Try to remain on public property if you can. That’s public sidewalks, or a public park. If you cross the street cross at regular crosswalks. Keep in mind that the person next to you may get you arrested as well, even if you’re acting innocently. It’s also an extremely smart idea to have a lawyer lined up before you go, and to write that attorney’s number on your arm so you can get in touch with them as quickly as possible. Never Resist Arrest Resisting can include laying down, dragging your feet, yelling, and struggling. According to New…

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COVID-19 behind bars in New York

June 3, 2020 | Comments Off on COVID-19 behind bars in New York

As the COVID-19 outbreak leaves New York City at a standstill, officials must consider another population: those housed behind bars in jails and prisons. Jails are not great environments for containing an outbreak – they are crowded and don’t allow for social distancing, and facilities often take a very minimal approach when it comes to health care. NYC DOC outbreak response The New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) and their medical service partner, Correctional Health Services (CHS), have taken steps to protect both DOC personnel and incarcerated individuals who are at high-risk for complications from COVID-19. Staff are provided with masks and can receive testing if they are symptomatic Individuals in custody are supposed to be provided with masks. Those who may be at a higher risk for a serious case of COVID-19 are being housed in units that provide separation from general population, or units that provide increased medical…

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Understanding New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

June 1, 2020 | Comments Off on Understanding New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

The BAC for adults is 0.08%. If you’re a minor in New York and you get behind the wheel of a car, you might be surprised to learn that your legal limit is much lower at 0.02%.   The reason is the New York Zero Tolerance Law. Since it’s illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink in New York it is also illegal for them to drive.   Yet the amount of alcohol in your blood does determine what you will be charged with.   Less than 0.05%: Violation of the Zero Tolerance Law   You won’t face criminal charges or a court trial. There will be an administrative hearing to determine whether you violated the law.   You can view a FAQ about these hearings by visiting this link.   During this hearing, the state has to prove the traffic stop that lead to the charges…

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Jury selection over Zoom? Courts adapt to COVID-19 shutdown

May 31, 2020 | Comments Off on Jury selection over Zoom? Courts adapt to COVID-19 shutdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a mass shutdown of businesses, schools and offices – and courtrooms are no exception. Court officials, defense attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants are all adapting to a new norm — and that means limiting in-person hearings, delaying trials and even conducting jury selection over Zoom, as one court in Texas tried in early May. Summoned to jury duty… on Zoom   More than two dozen potential jurors logged onto a Zoom videoconference call for jury selection on May 18 in an insurance dispute case in Collin County District Court. The process was live-streamed on Judge Emily Miskel’s YouTube page.    While both parties eventually agreed to mediation, Miskel told Reuters that the Zoom call was “successful” and it could lead to changes in court procedure: a “hybrid approach” where jury selection is virtual and the rest of the trial is conducted in person. This could be a vital solution…

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Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car in NYC?

May 4, 2020 | Comments Off on Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car in NYC?

Everyone’s talking about a slow, cautious reopening these days, even here in NYC. It’s not happening yet, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that some New Yorkers will be congregating in bars again…even if they’ll be doing it six feet apart. So this means it’s a good time to go over some of the finer points of DWI law in New York as this, more than ever, is not a good time to be arrested for any reason.    Especially since yes, you can get a DWI if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car. Here’s what the police look at. Is your BAC over the limit? If you’re BAC is over the limit you’re better off staying out of a driver’s seat or holding car keys, period. Your BAC being over the limit—or a police officer’s belief your BAC is over the limit—will provide the…

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The 4 Types of Credit Card Fraud You Could Be Committing

April 20, 2020 | Comments Off on The 4 Types of Credit Card Fraud You Could Be Committing

We’re all cooped up inside right now, and that means most of us are spending a great deal of time online. The only shopping most of us can do is online as well, which means many people will be using their credit cards more often.   This means it’s a good time to talk about some common mistakes people make with credit cards. Often, these mistakes can  be avoided. The people who make them don’t realize that they’re committing a crime.   Nevertheless, these mistakes could open you up to criminal charges.   Application Fraud   If you’ve ever made your income look just a little bit higher on a credit card application than it actually is, then you’ve committed fraud. A person commits fraud when they misrepresent themselves for financial gain.   For the most part this doesn’t come up unless you stop paying your bill. Yet it can…

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Violating Shelter-in-Place Orders Could Lead to Criminal Charges

April 3, 2020 | Comments Off on Violating Shelter-in-Place Orders Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Crime is going down in New York City and most everywhere else. Even hardened criminals don’t want to catch this virus. New York City is, of course, one of the epicenters of this pandemic. Yet this truth comes hand-in-hand with the fact that there’s a new crime to worry about: violating the PAUSE act. “PAUSE” stands for “Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone.” It’s the governor’s order, the one which essentially shuts down the state. Non-essential businesses must close. Gatherings of over ten people are prohibited. New Yorkers are supposed to be staying at home unless it’s to get to the grocery store or to go to a medical appointment. Or, if you’re an essential worker, to work. What happens if you don’t obey? First, you should know police officers are patrolling looking for people who aren’t paying attention to the order. They’ve chased people out of public parks and…

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What is Accomplice Liability?

March 5, 2020 | Comments Off on What is Accomplice Liability?

Your buddy said he was just stepping into the store for a minute, perhaps for a candy bar or for a pack of cigarettes. Moments later, he runs out of the store and tells you to drive. Later, you find out your buddy went in and held up the store. Now you’re being arrested and charged as an accomplice in the crime. What just happened? Under New York Law, you can be prosecuted as an accomplice in several types of cases. You solicited or requested the crime be committed. To use this part of the statute against you the prosecution must prove that you either asked your friend to hold up the store or that you tried to pay your friend to do so. Encouraging others to commit crimes on your behalf is the same thing as picking up the gun and doing it yourself. This is true even if…

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Defending Yourself Against Shoplifting Charges in NYC

March 2, 2020 | Comments Off on Defending Yourself Against Shoplifting Charges in NYC

False accusations of shoplifting aren’t all that uncommon. Many retailers believe that the overzealous pursuit of shoplifters is good normal business, and that people should be willing to endure false accusations if it means more shoplifters get caught.  Some retailers even pursue monetary damages against shoppers who have not been convicted of any crime. Sadly, this means you might find yourself in trouble even if you didn’t take anything, or if you took something unintentionally, such as by accidentally leaving an item in the bottom of your cart when you check out. Often, you may find yourself in an encounter with the police even when store loss prevention personnel can’t find any merchandise on your person and can’t produce any evidence that you’ve taken anything. So what do you do? Avoid Incriminating Yourself You should exercise your right to remain silent even when you’re dealing with in-store officials. Just say,…

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