Neil S. Ruskin
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New York City Criminal Defense Blog

Theft by extortion

The word "theft" seems to imply an element of secrecy (as in one stealing something without another knowing it). Transactions conducted in the broad daylight certainly would not fall under this category. Yet that is where you could be wrong. Several clients have come to members of our team here at Neil S. Ruskin Attorney at Law accused of engaging in an activity many may not normally associate with theft: extortion. When you conduct your business, there may be times when circumstances dictate that you "play hardball" with those you are negotiating with. The question then becomes when might tactics cross the line and be considered criminal. 

Section 155.05 of New York's Penal Law defines extortion as you compelling a person to deliver property to you by instilling a fear that, if said property is not delivered, you could potentially: 

  • Injure said person (or another party) in the immediate future
  • Damage said person's own property 
  • Accuse said person of a crime (or provoke charges to be filed against them)
  • Expose or publicize information (whether true or false) that could bring contempt and/or ridicule down on said party
  • Create a strike or boycott that could be injurious to said party's own business
  • Offer up information in a legal matter that could be damaging to said person

Taking cocaine to a summer get-together could be a costly mistake

Kicking back and enjoying yourself during the summer can look like a lot of different things. It might look like a ball game with your friends or heading out to the park with your family. For some people, it could be enjoying a backyard bonfire with a few beers or going out clubbing late at night with your friends.

Those who are looking to party hard and stay up late often turn to stimulant substances. When those Red Bull mixed drinks aren't cutting it anymore, people tend to consider cocaine, which has remained a popular party drug for decades. In fact, it is a drug commonly associated with New York's business and artist subcultures.

Drug company liability for opioid crisis sought in lawsuits

Many people in New York know someone who has struggled with an addiction problem or they may even themselves have personally experienced this type of challenge. Sadly, many people who become addicted to drugs develop their addiction after being prescribed a legal medication by a doctor or other health care provider. Once an addiction sets in, it can initiate a downward spiral in which a person becomes compelled to do things they might not otherwise simply to feed their addiction.

The problem of drug addictions that stem from or involve prescription medications has become more and more widely acknowledged around the country. As reported by CNBC, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that nearly 218,000 people died between 1999 and 2017 due to overdoses in which an opioid drug was involved. Opioids are medications used to provide relief from serious pain. 

Bad donut allegedly to blame for bus driver's DUI

Most states, including New York, treat DWI as a serious offense, especially when it potentially endangers children. This is no less true in Texas, where authorities arrested a school bus driver last week. Witnesses who allegedly saw the bus swerving dangerously called 911 to report the incident. After pulling the bus over, authorities administered sobriety tests, alleging that she failed "miserably."

The arrest happened on an afternoon while the driver was transporting children home from school. Law enforcement released the 55-year-old woman on a $100 bond following her arrest on misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated. Pending the outcome of the investigation, the bus company that employs her has placed her on suspension.

The 4th of July brings the potential for sobriety checkpoints

Independence Day is one of the most popular American holidays. Many full-time workers get the day off, even if it falls in the middle of the week. After all, it is a federal holiday. Even those who still have to work will usually try their hardest to participate in some celebration, whether it is watching an evening fireworks display with their friends or attending a barbecue before they have to leave for work.

All of that socialization carries with it an increased social pressure to consume alcohol as part of the fun. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a few drinks while you relax and celebrate with the people you love, you should know that there will likely be more risk of getting caught if you try to drive after having a few drinks on Independence Day or the weekend directly before or after the holiday.

When online behavior becomes a crime

Social media and other forms of online communication can be useful tools, but like any tool, they can be as harmful with misuse as they can be helpful when utilized correctly. It is not always possible for New York residents like you to keep your online communication positive, but we at the law offices of Neil S. Ruskin caution you that some negative interactions you have with others through the internet can cross the line into criminal behavior if they are persistent or come across as threatening. 

According to FindLaw, the definition of online harassment can be fuzzy, but it basically consists of a pattern of behavior that causes someone to fear for his or her safety. Two of the most common types of harassment that occur online are cyberbullying and cyberstalking. The former involves intimidating someone via online communication, while the involves using the internet to track someone's movements in a way that represents a violation of their privacy. Another form of online harassment is hacking into someone else's online accounts for the purpose of identity theft. This includes accessing accounts to post content intended to hurt an individual's reputation.

Fentanyl replacing heroin as dominant New York City drug

In many western states, heroin remains prevalent and readily available to those who use it, but in New York City and other areas along the eastern seaboard, its presence seems to be fading. Nevertheless, it seems that heroin's decline is more attributable to the rise of fentanyl, another more potent and more accessible drug, taking its place as the drug of choice for distributors than any public health efforts to stem the use of heroin.

Fentanyl is easier to get ahold of than heroin by creating it in clandestine labs or importing it in from China, rather than having to wait for the poppy harvest in Mexico before production can take place. Acquisition of fentanyl requires less labor and yields far more doses. Since fentanyl can be 50 times more potent than heroin, users of the latter who switch to the former are at a greater risk for overdose. Overdose deaths related to heroin are decreasing along the eastern seaboard even as fentanyl overdose deaths are rising.

What is the statute is limitations?

When it comes to a criminal charge in New York, there is usually something called a statute of limitations. It is well worth your time to understand what this means and how it applies to your case. The concept is very important when it comes to charges against you and going to court because it could mean you cannot be charged with a crime.

NYCourts.gov explains a statute of limitations is how long a prosecutor has to charge you with a crime. It differs for every crime. For theft, the limit is usually two to five years. However, the circumstances of the case often do play into exactly how long, which is up to the discretion of the court.

Understanding shoplifting laws in New York

It's very easy to become falsely accused of shoplifting because mistakes can happen. Most of us engage in transactions in stores almost every day of our lives, and while the vast majority of these experiences will be unproblematic, there can be instances where misunderstandings occur.

If you have been accused of shoplifting in New York, it is important that you understand the consequences that you may face. By understanding how the law is defined and how the crime is punished, you can start to build a compelling defense.

What is constructive possession?

If you face New York illegal drug possession charges, you need to know about constructive possession, both what it is and how it works. FindLaw explains that constructive possession constitutes one of the ways in which the prosecutor can prove that you owned, controlled or otherwise possessed the illegal drugs that officers recovered from the scene.

If you actually possessed the drugs, the prosecutor can prove this easily via an officer’s credible testimony that (s)he recovered the drugs from your pocket or somewhere else on your person. The prosecutor may have a considerably more difficult time proving you possessed the drugs, however, if (s)he must prove it by means of constructive possession. Why? Because constructive possession relies on the jury reasonably inferring that you possessed the drugs based on only circumstantial evidence.

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