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Mahopac Criminal Defense Law Blog

Ages 16 and 17 and convicted of criminal offense as adults

New York is one of two states that treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes. That policy creates harsh results, such as where minors are tagged with a criminal record for committing a misdemeanor that consists of conduct that is sometimes seemingly harmless. In those cases, the state is marring the life of the teen by tagging him or her with a conviction of a criminal offense on conduct that may be directly tied into the youth's lower economic standing and paucity of supportive resources.

The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice reported that the NYPD made about 23,000 arrests of 16- and 17-year-olds each year during 2011, 2012 and 2013. More than 75 percent of these were for misdemeanors and not felonies. The system then hounds these juveniles for the fines, along with penalties into the hundreds of dollars.

Felony charges against driver who killed boy crossing the street

In some cases, an accident where a driver hits a pedestrian seems to encourage the driver to leave the scene and not stop as legally required. A driver who hit two teens who were crossing a street in the Bronx was charged with reckless driving and with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, according to New York police. Although the 26-year-old male driver of a Honda Accord decided to return to the scene after he fled, police nonetheless filed leaving the scene felony charges against him.

A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl were crossing Baychester Avenue at Crawford Avenue when the Honda barreled into them, sending the boy airborne into oncoming traffic. He was then hit by an approaching vehicle. He was transported by ambulance to Jacobi Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival. The girl remained in critical condition at the hospital.

Sex offenses charged against man for online communications

In the traditional way of framing criminal offenses, a crime like attempted  rape would be based on at least some physical contact between the suspect and the victim. Typically, the attempt to rape would have failed for some reason and penetration would have been prevented or aborted, thus justifying a charge of attempt. In New York and elsewhere, the modern way of looking at such sex offenses appears to have taken on an added dimension: the authorities have extended the scope of attempt so that there is no need to have physical contact at all.

That of course is the result of the revolutionary kinds of communications that have emerged in the digital age. Attempts are now made on the Internet, without further contact being necessary, according to authorities. In fact, the New York State Police Computer Crime Unit recently charged a 26 year-old male with attempting to arrange a meeting with a girl to have sex with her. The arrangements were allegedly made online.

Male volunteer held on malicious mischief felony charges

Criminal mischief in New York is a crime that is charged when a suspect has allegedly vandalized personal property of another. It can be a misdemeanor under certain circumstances,  but when the damage is over $1,500, it is charged as a felony.  In a recent incident, a volunteer fireman was charged by New York State Police with felony charges of criminal mischief for allegedly vandalizing the Clarksville Fire Department where he volunteers.

It is alleged that the damages exceed $30,000. The 21-year-old man is being held in the Allegany County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. He is charged with entering the fire department building and spray painting fire trucks and fire-fighting gear. With respect to a potential criminal defense to the charges, defense counsel will probe the surrounding and historical facts with the suspect.

Bill tries to help domestic violence victims unfairly imprisoned

The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act is a bill that was introduced in 2011 and is still being debated in the New York legislature. The Act recognizes that a major path to incarceration for many women is through the violence cycles of domestic abuse. Many women have ended up in prison after saying no to continuing acts of domestic violence by a spouse or domestic partner.

The Act would allow those individuals to go before the court for re-sentencing. At that time, they would be able to prove and explain the surrounding circumstances of the crime they committed. This would allow the court to consider the details of domestic violence that led to the so-called crime by the defendant.

Teen charged with domestic violence murder of 5-year-old cousin

Reports of missing children sometimes turn out to be bogus. In upstate New York, Albany County authorities say that they received a report from a 19-year-old female that her five-year-old cousin was taken forcefully from her by two masked men on Dec. 18. Police deemed the report false after a K-9 unit found the child dead under a nearby pile of snow. The woman's arrest for second degree murder may carry allegations of some kind of domestic violence inflicted on the boy to cause his death.

The suspect's parents were reportedly the legal guardian of the boy and his two siblings since September. The boys' natural parents are apparently separated. The mother is said to be living elsewhere in New York and the father in Massachusetts.

Police: woman hit 5 pedestrians, drunk driving charges filed

According to New York authorities, a 34-year-old Brooklyn woman had two suspended licenses when she drove erratically and crashed near Herald Square recently. She had a suspended driver's license and a suspended law license. She was arrested on a string of charges, including drunk driving, after she allegedly drove her Mustang convertible onto the sidewalk, hitting and injuring five pedestrians, and crashing into a storefront.

Authorities say the woman had a blood alcohol level of .185 on a Breathalyzer test after the crash. According to the alleged statement of one pedestrian, the car was "flying" when it came onto the sidewalk. The accused was also injured and is reportedly being treated at Bellevue for a broken pelvis.

Drug sweep nets over 80 arrests and multiple drug charges

In New York state as well as elsewhere, drug sweeps are generally good for increasing public relations between the community and the police departments involved. However, whether they have an impact on the volume of drug operations is usually difficult to measure. Furthermore, there has generally been no evidence offered that the demand for drugs goes down in the aftermath of mass sweeps resulting in hundreds of drug charges and dozens of arrests. That fact begs the question whether the raids are worth the substantial public resources invested, both in terms of the burgeoning costs of law enforcement and the drain on court operations.

The latest large sweep occurred recently in Westchester County, and including the communities of New Rochelle, White Plains, and Mount Vernon. In all, more than 100 people have been identified for arrest but police say that more than 80 people have been apprehended to date. The sweep went straight to the streets where undercover agents made buys and conducted surveillance. The arrests involve felony charges relating mostly to crack cocaine and heroin.

Cops in botched effort to charge barber with criminal offense

The police in New York City are having a rocky season. More specifically, there seems to be some pent-up violent energy erupting, particularly in the borough of Staten Island. As the whole country now knows, a group of five or six officers were involved in a possible criminal offense after they accosted Eric Garner on a street corner this past summer and accused him of selling loose cigarettes.

Although Garner appears docile in a real-time video, the police wrestled the highly overweight and asthmatic man to the ground. He died of suffocation, as he pleaded, "I can't breathe." The officer who is seen most prominently applying a choke hold on the victim was not, however, indicted  by a Staten Island grand jury, thereby causing a widespread public outcry.  

TV star held for alleged domestic violence violations

A restraining order in New York is generally issued to prevent ongoing acts of physical abuse by one person against another. Usually, the two parties were in an intimate relationship, but a generic restraining order is something that does not require such a prior relationship or the existence of what is called domestic violence. Certain protection orders issued by the court are specifically granted only where the parties were in a domestic relationship -- certain rules are provided that must be met to institute and to extinguish the order pertaining to domestic violence.

It's important to remember that the domestic violence laws, and laws pertaining to restraining orders, are generally a function of state jurisdiction and enforcement. One must look to the state where the events occur for guidance on what laws may be applicable. Recently, a restraining order was allegedly violated by the star of a cable series called "Orange is the New Black." Taryn Manning, star of the Netflix hit, was arrested for contempt for violating an existing order that precludes her from harassing her former roommate, Jeanine Heller.