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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Understanding Discovery Reform in New York

February 9, 2020 | Comments Off on Understanding Discovery Reform in New York

Prior to January 1, 2020, the state of New York put defendants at a severe disadvantage through so-called “blindfold” discovery laws. In the past, while defense could request crucial pieces of evidence from the prosecution (a process called discovery), prosecutors were free to hold on to much of that evidence until the very day of the trial. While defense lawyers could conduct their own investigations, defendants were always kept in the dark, unsure about the strength of the prosecution’s case. Prosecutors would often use this uncertainty to leverage defendants into plea bargains. This year, everything has changed with the introduction of “automatic discovery.” Understanding Automatic Discovery Under the new automatic discovery law, defense attorneys no longer need to make written demands to obtain and review evidence. Instead, the prosecution must allow the defendant to “discover, inspect, copy, photograph, and test” all of the prosecutor’s case-related materials. The new laws also…

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Can You Go to Jail for Giving a Prescription Drug to a Friend?

January 9, 2020 | Comments Off on Can You Go to Jail for Giving a Prescription Drug to a Friend?

We’ve all been in this position: a friend is suffering from a terrible migraine or is in some other sort of pain.  You were prescribed pain killers from the last time you had surgery but you never used them. Thinking you are being generous, you say, “Here, you can have one of these.” After all, you don’t plan to use them yourself.  Why have them go to waste? What’s the big deal after all? Unfortunately, as soon as you make this move you are actually committing a crime. If your friend takes you up on it, your friend is committing a crime too. Sharing a prescription drug makes you a drug dealer under New York Law. You don’t have to get any money or goods to be committing a crime. The act of giving that painkiller to your friend puts you in violation of New York’s controlled substance law. The charge…

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What You Need to Know About Your 5th Amendment Rights

December 15, 2019 | Comments Off on What You Need to Know About Your 5th Amendment Rights

“I plead the 5th.” You’ve heard it plenty of times on television. “You have the right to remain silent.” You’ve heard that too. You’ve even read about it on this blog, whenever we’ve advised you to invoke your right to remain silent while in custody. But do you really understand your 5th amendment protections? If you don’t, you could make a mistake which removes the protections you’re entitled to. Here are a few things you need to know whenever you deal with law enforcement or the court system. #1) The 5th Amendment only applies if you’re under compulsion to provide information to the government, and in cases where the information is indeed incriminating. This means it applies when you’re in police custody, or in a case where you’re being called to testify under oath as a witness, and such testimony could incriminate you for the crime at issue or related…

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Are DWI Tests Reliable?

December 1, 2019 | Comments Off on Are DWI Tests Reliable?
DUI DWI Arrest

Police station “Breathalyzer” test results are often central pieces of evidence in DWI cases. Yet mounting evidence suggests they are not reliable. New York has already ruled that portable breathalyzer test results aren’t admissible in court, but prosecutors continue to use the results of in-station testing. This is problematic, since implied consent laws make it impossible to refuse either the portable or the station test without consequences. Your first refusal can mean a 1-year license suspension and a $500 fine.  While the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test are certainly less disruptive than a DWI conviction, they nevertheless push many people into taking the test who otherwise would refuse to do so. Some of them do so feeling fully confident they’ll get a negative result.  According to a recent article in The New York Times, the devices “generate skewed results with alarming frequency, even though they are marketed as precise…

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What Happens When You Confess to a Crime You Didn’t Commit?

November 18, 2019 | Comments Off on What Happens When You Confess to a Crime You Didn’t Commit?
criminal evidence

Confessions create a lot of problems for your defense lawyer. Many jurors believe that nobody who is innocent would ever confess to a crime they didn’t commit. That assumption is incorrect, of course. False confessions happen more often than you might think. In a 2013 amicus brief, the APA noted that scientific evidence demonstrates that standard police procedure is in itself a risk factor for eliciting false confessions. Research and an increasing roster of wrongfully convicted people has only strengthened their argument. So, if you’ve confessed, what can an experienced defense attorney do about it? Suppressing Confessions A confession is like any other piece of evidence. Under certain circumstances, a Motion to Suppress may ensure the jury never hears about the confession. The Motion to Suppress will be successful if the attorney can show that the confession was unlawful or involuntary. The courts classify several sorts of behavior as tending…

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District Attorneys Gear Up to Find New Ways Around Reformed NY Bail Law

November 2, 2019 | Comments Off on District Attorneys Gear Up to Find New Ways Around Reformed NY Bail Law

On January 1, 2020, most people arrested for non-violent crimes won’t have to post bail. They will be released and ordered to appear at their trials. It’s no surprise that many prosecuting attorneys don’t like the new law. Many claim it will make it harder to deter crime.  An ADA from Nassau County,Jed Painter, is trying to help other DAs find legal loopholes that would either keep nonviolent criminals in jail until trial, or force them to pay bail as usual. For example, he advised DAs to tell local police not to pick up felony defendants right away if they don’t show up to court. In his presentation he said, “Don’t be their Uber. You’re not going to get bail on them for that violation. Wait the 30 days, and then you’ve got your bail-jumping charge waiting for them.” He only advised picking them up right away if public safety…

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Can I Get A DUI For Taking Benadryl?

October 30, 2019 | Comments Off on Can I Get A DUI For Taking Benadryl?

New York law does not make a distinction between legal drugs and illegal drugs in DUI charges. The charge is “driving under the influence.” The legality of what is influencing you does not make a difference. This is covered under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.4: “No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such a motor vehicle is impaired by the use of a drug.” This means any drug if that drug impairs you in any way. Nothing stops you from taking your prescriptions, of course. You just have to determine whether they render you capable of getting behind the wheel unimpaired. You should also pay close attention to the way substances interact. While under normal circumstances, you might be able to have one beer with dinner without going over the legal blood alcohol limit, the same drink could become deadly when…

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