5 Things Police Shows Get All Wrong

May 22, 2019 | Comments Off on 5 Things Police Shows Get All Wrong

If you watch police shows like Law and Order, CSI, The Closer, Major Crimes, and other, similar dramas you might have gotten some skewed ideas about our criminal justice system. Shows like this perpetuate common tropes which don’t always bear much relationship to reality. And you can actively harm your own case if you believe these myths. Here are the five most damaging ones. Law enforcement always gets it right. In police shows, principled detectives leave no stone unturned. If they come across any inconsistency which indicates the suspect they’re pursuing might be innocent, they stop and look for another. In reality, investigations aren’t so cut-and-dried. There usually isn’t a smoking gun, and some evidence can weaken other evidence. Even forensic evidence isn’t necessarily a smoking gun. Both the prosecution and the defense build evidence up, brick by brick, to create a convincing case to support their position. This means…

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New York Becomes The 42nd State To Criminalize “Revenge Porn”

May 10, 2019 | Comments Off on New York Becomes The 42nd State To Criminalize “Revenge Porn”

New York has joined forty-one other states in passing legislation that criminalizes what has come to be known as “revenge porn.” As advances in technology continue, the online world has become integrated into our everyday lives, which, in turn, has created an outlet for behavior that previously went unchecked. What has come to be known as “revenge porn” is precisely that – sexually explicit images or videos, released by someone without the portrayed individual’s consent, typically as a means of exacting revenge or retaliation against the latter. It has become a common act amongst ex-lovers and partners, who once consensually shared the images with the understanding that they would be kept private. Senate Bill S1719C, which won support by both sides of the Senate, addresses this issue. This new bill criminalizes the unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image, AKA, “revenge porn.” Under the legislation, and codified as Section…

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Is There a New NY Blood Alcohol Limit on the Horizon?

May 1, 2019 | Comments Off on Is There a New NY Blood Alcohol Limit on the Horizon?

A new bill recently introduced in the New York State Assembly would lower the legal blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05. It would also lower the rate for aggravated driving while intoxicated. This change is, in part, in response to National Transportation Safety Board recommendations. The NTSB recently urged all 50 states to lower the legal limit. The bill is currently sitting with the transportation committee. See also: Your Rights in New York DUI Cases. Would lowering the limit save lives? Other countries have had a 0.5 blood alcohol limit for some time. For example, Utah already has an 0.5 blood alcohol limit. Some studies show drivers can show significant impairment at just 0.4 BAC. DWIs and DUIs cause 31% of the car accidents in the United States. But lowering the limit could have some serious ramifications for innocent individuals. If lawmakers adopt a standard this low,  you might…

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5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

April 29, 2019 | Comments Off on 5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

From the moment you are arrested and charged with a crime, your position becomes precarious. Even small missteps can weaken your chances of making it through this event without serious, life-changing consequences. Education is the best defense. Memorize these points, even if you’re not being accused of a crime right now. And if you have a loved one who is being charged with a crime right now, be sure to direct him or her to this blog post. Sure, they might have already made some of these mistakes, but it’s never too late to avoid making more mistakes. Trying to convince the police you’re innocent. When you do this you’re playing right into their hands. Police use a method called the Reid Technique to interrogate arrestees. One of the central tenants of this method is attempting to convince the suspect they might have a shot of getting out of the…

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5 Common Types of Welfare Fraud

March 29, 2019 | Comments Off on 5 Common Types of Welfare Fraud

Welfare fraud is a serious crime. It’s a form of theft that can keep people from getting the help they need when they truly need it. It also involves a great deal of bureaucracy, which means if you fail to understand the requirements of your program you may end up committing fraud by accident. And while multi-million dollar schemes exist, sometimes welfare fraud is a lot more basic. It’s committed by someone who is struggling, who may otherwise be a good person, who faces temptation because it’s still hard to survive while receiving public assistance. Underreporting Income This is one of the most common forms of fraud. The recipient does not report a new job, a sudden windfall like a lottery win or inheritance, or even outright lies about income on a welfare application. Remember, when you are receiving public assistance, you must inform your case worker about any changes…

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Did You Just Commit Credit Card Fraud?

March 19, 2019 | Comments Off on Did You Just Commit Credit Card Fraud?

It’s more likely than you think. The vast majority of credit card fraud cases involve the big players: people who are purposefully committing identity theft or who are using stolen or counterfeit card data to make purchases. But that doesn’t mean unintentional credit card fraud doesn’t happen. And when it does, perfectly normal people who would never consciously commit any crime risk finding themselves facing criminal charges for activities that really didn’t seem like any big deal. If you’ve indulged in any of the following activities you could be at risk. See also: Common Examples of Healthcare Fraud. Did you tell a little white lie? A lot of people “fudge” things on their credit card application. The most common is to overstate your income. Lying to obtain a financial benefit is a fraud crime, even if the lie is small. It may take some time for the lie to be…

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What to Do if You Are Accused of Bankruptcy Fraud in New York City

February 18, 2019 | Comments Off on What to Do if You Are Accused of Bankruptcy Fraud in New York City
judgment concept from gavel and money

Most people get all the way through bankruptcy without a hitch. But every now and then, something goes wrong. Maybe you tried filing on your own and you made a mistake. Maybe you forgot to tell your lawyer something important, or missed a financial document you really should have shared. Maybe you did something prior to the bankruptcy you didn’t know would be a problem, and so never brought it up with your attorney. Now you’re in hot water, and you’re being charged with bankruptcy fraud. Until now, you might have thought bankruptcy fraud was limited to big businesses, celebrities, and the very rich. Now you, a perfectly normal person, are facing one of the scariest things you’ll ever face. Get a criminal attorney. While it may be natural to assume your bankruptcy lawyer is the right person to handle a bankruptcy fraud charge as well, this usually isn’t the…

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New Legislation In New York: The Child Victims Act

February 15, 2019 | Comments Off on New Legislation In New York: The Child Victims Act

On January 28, 2019, the New York State Assembly voted on groundbreaking legislation, entitled the NEW YORK CHILD VICTIMS ACT, which would change the landscape for many future civil and criminal charges stemming from sexual abuse now barred by the statute of limitations.  It is now up to the Governor to sign the Act into law. What is the Child Victims Act and what impact will it have? First, the Act would extend the statute of limitations for alleged victims of sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their accused by allowing victims to sue in civil court up until the victim turns 55-years-old.  The previous limit was 23 years old. The Act would also create what is called a one year “look back window” allowing those who failed to sue in the past to file new civil claims. Next, the Act would extend the Statute of Limitations for alleged…

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Understanding New York’s Murder Statute

February 7, 2019 | Comments Off on Understanding New York’s Murder Statute
crime in NYC stats

As a former homicide prosecutor and legal analyst for the Law and Crime Network, I often get asked to explain New York’s Murder statute and how it differs from other states.   Keep in mind, that all states have their own definition of Murder. But New York’s version is fairly unique. First of all, it is a common misconception by many, including some in the legal field, that Murder, as defined in the New York penal law, requires the prosecutor to prove premeditation on the part of the defendant.  That is simply not the case. Unlike many states, such as Florida and South Dakota, there is no legal requirement in New York State that the prosecutor prove that a defendant planned the murder in advance or even had the intent to kill at any particular time prior to engaging in the murderous conduct.  Instead, the law requires that the defendant act…

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Arraignment in New York: What to Expect

February 6, 2019 | Comments Off on Arraignment in New York: What to Expect
supreme court

It might come as a surprise, but a defendant doesn’t go from arrest to criminal trial overnight. There are several intervening procedures that take place before a defendant appears in front of a jury. The first step in any criminal matter in New York is an arraignment. Arraignment in New York is the first appearance after an arrest. The arraignment process takes place in a courtroom, in front of a judge, and follows a specific set of rules and requirements. While very early in the criminal justice process, arraignment in New York is vitally important to any criminal case. Here’s what you need to know and can expect at an arraignment. When: Timing and Time frame for Arraignment Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and state law, an arraignment in New York must take place within a reasonable time after arrest. What is considered reasonable can differ based…

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What Is Considered a Hate Crime in New York?

February 4, 2019 | Comments Off on What Is Considered a Hate Crime in New York?

At the end of 2018, the New York Police Department (NYPD) released certain statistics on crime in New York City. One of the disturbing numbers was a small, but noticeable, spike in the number of hate crimes reported last year. These numbers reflect a similar trend throughout the State of New York, with hate crime in New York, generally, rising. What exactly is a hate crime in New York? The Law on Hate Crime in New York There is a separate section in the New York criminal laws, officially called the New York Penal Law, that covers hate crime. The NYPD, prosecutors, and criminal defense lawyers rely on this particular section of the New York Penal Law, and the definitions included, when assessing a case as a hate crime or not. Here is how hate crime is defined in Section 485.05 of the Penal Law. A person commits a specified…

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When words can be criminal: Harassment defense in New York

December 24, 2018 | Comments Off on When words can be criminal: Harassment defense in New York
harassing swear words

Most of us know someone who annoys or bothers us. Sometimes they are a former romantic partner, other times they can be a family member, ex-friend, or one-time colleague. On occasion it’s a party we have no personal or professional association with. What can we do about someone like this?  As long as their actions are not threatening or alarming, most of us would just ignore them. Unfortunately, others choose to file harassment charges against people who not only had no intention of harassing them, but also had a legitimate reason to contact them. The crime of harassment explained In New York, criminal harassment occurs when an individual intentionally strives to alarm, annoy, or harass another person. It may be done in person, or via virtual actions such as cyberstalking. New York State harassment crimes include: Harassment in the second degree: engaging in conduct intended to annoy or alarm another…

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What are the most common holiday crimes?

December 14, 2018 | Comments Off on What are the most common holiday crimes?
new year crime scene

While criminal activity is not restricted to the holidays, certain crimes appear to become more frequent once December rolls around. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year has long been recognized as a time when reported crimes go up, supposedly due to increased opportunity and financial desperation. To help keep you safe this holiday season, we have identified four crimes that tend to spike at this time. Theft This category covers all crimes related to stealing: shoplifting, picking pockets, and removing valuables from parked cars. Crowded streets, shopping malls, and parking lots all present criminals with more opportunities to exploit. Home burglaries are also more common during this time, with criminals looking for expensive gifts to steal. To protect your belongings and purchases, take extra measures to secure them. Keep your wallet, purse, and shopping bags within sight at all times and refrain from storing valuables inside your car, at…

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Probation in New York: How it works

November 21, 2018 | Comments Off on Probation in New York: How it works
criminal court and jail

Probation is a disposition or sentence imposed by a New York criminal court, whereby you are released without serving any time in jail, although in some circumstances you could be sentenced to both imprisonment and probation. The term is sometimes confused with parole, which is when you serve part of your sentence in the community after a period of incarceration. The courts are more inclined to grant probation if you do not  pose a risk to the general public and it appears that you could benefit from the associated guidance. Probation may also be granted to those who are assisting with a drug-related felony investigation or prosecution. Probation conditions for convicted offenders Probation gives convicted offenders the chance to rejoin the community and do better this time. In exchange for this second chance, you are required to obey certain rules during your probationary period. Depending on your original offense, these…

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Common examples of healthcare fraud

November 15, 2018 | Comments Off on Common examples of healthcare fraud
medical bill

Last December, four New York City doctors were included in a group of individual and corporate defendants charged with defrauding publicly funded insurance providers like Medicare and Medicaid of millions of dollars. Their arrest drew a lot of press coverage and public ire. In recent years, federal, state, and even local authorities have directed their efforts toward detecting fraudulent billing practices in hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers. Examples of medical care fraud include: Falsifying patient records in connection with a claim for reimbursement is one of the most common acts of healthcare fraud. Billing the government or an insurance provider for services that were never rendered. Also known as “phantom billing,” this fraud is normally detected when a medical professional seeks reimbursement for a visit but there is no record of that visit in the patient’s medical file. Billing for unnecessary and expensive services. One example,…

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Tax crimes in New York

November 6, 2018 | Comments Off on Tax crimes in New York

Last April, a British lawyer was found guilty of a massive tax fraud scheme. Michael Little, who was licensed to practice law in New York, was accused of helping the family of a U.S. investor conceal millions of dollars from the IRS by depositing it in Swiss bank accounts. He now faces up to five years in prison. Tax fraud is often dismissed as a harmless “catch me if you can” offense. Ask anyone and they will likely say that “everyone” cheats on their taxes (although they will claim to be one of the few who doesn’t.) It’s true that failing to file your yearly income tax return is only a misdemeanor, but when you repeatedly go without filing or act in ways that suggest a determination to avoid paying taxes, the IRS and federal prosecutors come down hard. What is tax evasion? Tax evasion in New York refers to…

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You were arrested for what?

October 2, 2018 | Comments Off on You were arrested for what?
question marks

Did you know that in New York, if a police officer catches you flirting, you can be fined $25? If this antiquated law were enforced, then most of the city would be in danger. It’s been on the books for over 100 years and probably dates back to January 1902, when state Assemblyman Francis G. Landon of Dutchess County tried to pass a bill that punished drunken flirtation with a fine of up to $500. It never became law, but flirtation could still result in a $25 fine. Historians say that the law was intended to deter solicitation or prostitution. There are plenty of other still-valid statutes that make no sense today. Many of them date back at least 300 years and were designed to reinforce the sanctity of the Lord’s Day (Sunday). Known as “blue laws,” they outlawed travel, sports, games, and even sex between married couples, all to encourage…

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What is a treaty transfer case in criminal law?

September 15, 2018 | Comments Off on What is a treaty transfer case in criminal law?
transfer around world

Being arrested, convicted, and imprisoned is bad enough. It’s even worse when you’re in a foreign country and have no access to friends, family, or even friendly faces who speak your language. Fortunately, you may be eligible for a transfer treaty arrangement that allows you to return to the U.S. to serve out your sentence. History of prisoner transfer treaties The U.S. entered into its first prison transfer treaty in 1977, when it permitted Mexican citizens in American prisons to be transferred home to serve out their sentences. Mexico reciprocated by sending incarcerated Americans to U.S. prisons. This inaugural arrangement was soon replicated in agreements with 12 more countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, France, and Turkey. In 1985 the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons took effect, and any country that signed it was automatically eligible to have its incarcerated citizens sent home from the U.S.…

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You have the right to remain silent: History of the Miranda warning

September 6, 2018 | Comments Off on You have the right to remain silent: History of the Miranda warning
police arrest

“You have the right to remain silent….” Most of us can recite the remainder of that statement by heart, even if we’ve never been arrested. It’s included in the script of every police drama and reality TV show dedicated to police procedure. What is not so well known is the story behind the so-called “Miranda” warnings. The Miranda case Ernesto Miranda was a 23-year-old Mexican who voluntarily entered a Phoenix police station in March 1963 to answer questions about a kidnapping and rape incident. The 17-year-old victim had given her brother a description of the attacker and a partial license plate number, which led to Miranda being identified and later questioned. After he willingly took part in a police lineup, the police implied that he had been positively identified. At that point, he was still a person of interest and not officially under arrest. Alarmed, Miranda confessed after a two-hour…

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What is a 440 motion?

August 30, 2018 | Comments Off on What is a 440 motion?
repeat retrial concept

We’ve all watched courtroom dramas with riveting trial scenes. The most memorable are those in which the defendant is found guilty of a crime he did not commit. We sympathize with his feelings of shock and dread as he contemplates a lengthy prison sentence. It’s a grim situation that occurs in real life. Even if the newly-convicted person has to start serving time right away, there’s still a chance to challenge this outcome. In New York, it’s called an Article 440 motion. Is it the same as an appeal? Unlike an appeal, appellate courts do not hear 440 motions. They are made before the trial court and challenge the legality of a criminal conviction based on evidence that is not on the record. There are two sections under Article 440 that allow you to submit a motion to reverse your conviction. Section 440.10 You can challenge your conviction under Section…

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