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New York City Criminal Defense Blog

What is asset forfeiture?

For New Yorkers who don’t believe in the adage “crime doesn’t pay,” some crimes might seem worth the risk of getting caught. Law enforcement agencies know this. To lessen the appeal of lucrative crime ventures, they use the rules of asset forfeiture.

According to the FBI, asset forfeiture helps deter crime, disrupt crime organizations, punish criminals and return assets to victims. The agency has seized and returned over $5 billion to victims of both civil and criminal cases through this victim restitution program. Federal law recognizes three types of forfeiture: criminal, civil judicial and administrative.

Do people add things to marijuana?

When you consider taking marijuana in New York, you usually do not expect your marijuana to be laced with other substances. Sometimes this happens, though, and this situation can be dangerous.

There are many different substances that could be hiding in your marijuana. According to American Addiction Centers, some people might add other drugs, such as ketamine, methamphetamine or LSD. Sometimes people might add substances which are not intended for human consumption. These can include laundry detergent and formaldehyde, as well as some kinds of bacteria and fungi. In some situations, you might learn that there is glass or lead inside marijuana. Sometimes the addition of these substances is unintentional. Lead and other materials in the soil can affect the marijuana plants and pesticides may also end up in your marijuana if someone used these materials on the plants.

Know when you can refuse to answer police questioning

If police suspect that you may have something to do with a crime, regardless of what type of crime it is, they may approach and ask you questions. Alternatively, they may ask you to come down to the station for questioning. While these are common police procedures, it is always wise to know when you have the right to refuse to answer questions.

Before you answer any questions, you must know your rights and how to protect them. The police officers with whom you interact do not have to inform you of your Miranda rights until an arrest is imminent. When you voluntarily submit to questioning, any information that you give them may help build a case against you. If you have any concerns about protecting your rights when interacting with the police, use the legal resources that you have to make sure you have the understanding and guidance you need to keep your freedoms and rights secure.

Employee theft a concern across U.S.

Most residents in New York have probably heard or read stories about people being accused of embezzlement or some other type of employee theft. However, just as with any time of criminal allegations, it is important to remember that just because someone is accused of a crime does not mean they actually committed a crime. There may be situations when perfectly legitimate acts or transactions are misconstrued as illegal or subversive conduct.

The Houston Chronicle indicates that small businesses in particular may need to pay attention to the problem of theft by employees. This may take multiple forms including the falsification of records related to expense reimbursements or usage of company credit cards. Even the small act of taking an envelope from the office in which to mail a person item may lead someone into trouble but then the onus is on others to decide if the action really was mal in nature.

Former agent facing multiple criminal charges

Many people in New York work in industries or jobs that put them in a position to access or know sensitive and confidential information. In some cases, this informaiton is required to be known by them and even to be shared with others by them in order for them to do their jobs. The lines between what falls in that category and what may be considered inappropriate use or dissemination of information can at times be very thin or blurry. On the other side of the line may be legal or even criminal consequences.

This situation can appear in both private and public sector roles. One example can be seen in a case recently reported on by NBC News involving a man who is only 29 years old and who had worked as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency. He has been indicted on a variety of charges that could send him to prison for many decades.

New bill to hold prosecutors responsible for misconduct

While it has yet to be made into law, a new bill passed by the New York State Assembly aims to bring a little more justice to the criminal court system. Under the new bill, prosecutors may bear a much larger amount of legal, and even personal, liability for misconduct than they currently do.

Should Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign it into law, the bill will add legal clout to those who were wrongfully convicted. It also would add incentives for prosecutors to pay closer attention to the evidence and the way that they present or withhold it.

Criminal arrest processes in New York

Most people in New York are aware that there may be many nuances to laws that at times might make it hard to know exactly what is legal and what is not. It is also well known that there may be many steps involved in a single criminal case and each of these steps has associated procedures that must be followed exactly by both defendants and prosecution teams. 

The New York Senate explains that when it comes to arrests made by officers with warrants, there are very specific requirements on what the arresting officer is supposed to do when with the defendant they just placed under arrest. Depending on the nature of the offense for which the person is being arrested, a police officer might have to transport the defendant to another county in the state. This might happen if the warrant was issued in one county but the arrest was made in another county.

De Blasio expands suspected gang member database

Recent revelations from public records requests brought to light that the New York Police Department (NYPD) under Mayor Bill De Blasio quietly grew its gang database by more than three times. According to these documents, the database continues to grow at this alarming rate, despite gang-related crime making up only about 1 percent of all reported crime in the city, which is itself experiencing very low crime rates compared to previous decades.

While those with differing opinions on law enforcement may or may not agree with this practice, from a criminal defense perspective, it is alarming to say to the least. Many of the individuals on the list have not received any criminal charges to the knowledge of the police, but their mere alleged affiliation with a "gang" is enough to compromise their rights.

Man receives broad range for sentence

When people in New York hear about a trial for a criminal offense, they might assume that if a person is convicted of the crime, there is a set penalty associated with that offense. That is not necessarily true and in some cases, a judge might have the ability to choose within some parameters what penalties a person will face. There may also be other factors involved that may determine if a person will go to jail or prison and how much time they might actually spend there.

An example of this may be seen in the case involving a defendant accused of causing a an alleged drunk driving accident last summer. According to The New York Daily News, the man hit a vehicle on the Grand Central Parkway while unsuccessfully attempting to pass it. In total, four vehicles ended up in the collision and seven people were hurt and two more people died in the crash.

Jury unable to come to decision in bribery case

Upon being arrested and charged with a criminal offense, many people in New York might fear that they have little hope of defending themselves. However, the ability to do just that is an integral part of the judicial and legal systems but the way that this might happen may end up taking many interesting turns. Some situations often heard about are when a defendant is found innocent by a judge or a jury or when they enter into a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Another situation that may leave the door open to a good defense is the ability to appeal a decision or to otherwise get a new trial. The latter might happen for a number of reasons. One example can be seen in the case of two defendants accused of corruption in New York who were on trial but will now be headed to a new trial after a jury failed to reach a decision in the original trial.

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