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Mahopac Criminal Defense Law Blog

Arson felony charges pursued for destroyed thruway salt shed

The crime of arson is generally the intentional setting on fire or bombing of the building or real property of another. The least serious arson charge in New York state is arson in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor charge. Arson in first through fourth degrees are all felony charges with differing punishments.

First degree arson is the most serious, being a Class A-1 felony that involves specific intent with malice. It may involve injury to innocent victims, committing arson for monetary compensation, or the knowledge that innocent persons will likely be in the targeted building. The New York State Police recently arrested a 54-year-old man from Pittsfield, MA, on fourth-degree arson charges. The charges involve a fire that destroyed the New York State Thruway Larchmont salt shed.

Visitors face felony charges on innocent gun violations

New York state's gun control laws are downright unfriendly to visitors from other states that have a more liberal concealed gun policy. For example, one former Marine from another state was arrested when trying to enter the Sept. 11 Memorial with two licensed guns in her backpack. She reported the guns to the security staff, but they arrested her on the spot for felony charges under the state gun laws. She found herself facing 3 ½ to 15 years in prison for doing something perfectly legal in her own state.

There is a critical flaw in the policy of New York law enforcement to prosecute out-of-state visitors for gun violations that don't exist in the state from which they come. That flaw is that the gun holder has no criminal intent to violate the law or to commit a harmful offense. Serious criminal statutes generally must have mens rea, or criminal intent, as a requisite to being found guilty.  

18 arrested on drug charges in Rockland County sweep

A big drug sweep in which 18 persons were arrested culminated several months of an investigation by authorities in Rockland County. The accused individuals are facing various drug charges, including selling one or more of the following: cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone. Several small New York towns in the county were targeted by the Rockland County Drug Task Force over the past several months.

The operation appears to have centered on open-air transactions in each of the several targeted towns and villages. Undercover agents purportedly purchased illegal drugs out in the open. Most of the people arrested have substantial prior records of criminal activity, according to the county district attorney's office.

Drunk driving conviction in New York can carry serious penalties

If you have been arrested and charged with intoxicated driving in New York, you might have need of legal assistance as you prepare to face the charges against you. Many times, just being accused of such a crime has negative and long-lasting effects on someone's personal and professional life. A drunk driving conviction can carry very serious penalties, including incarceration and substantial monetary fines. Therefore, it is typically prudent to seek consultation with a criminal lawyer who has experience in DUI and DWI cases.

The Law Offices of Joseph J. Tock are dedicated to offering focused and diligent representation for those who have been arrested on alcohol-related charges. Our attorneys have a reputation for aggressive and effective service that strives for an optimal client outcome in every case. Regardless of the circumstances leading up to or following your arrest, we offer a free consultation so that we can assess the details of your case and begin by making sure that your constitutional rights have not been violated.

Police arrest 2 men on felony charges on last day of festival

In New York and all other states, robbery is the taking and converting of another's property by means of physical force. Armed robbery is the same offense but with a gun, knife or other deadly weapon displayed by the robber. Robbery and armed robbery are almost always felony charges, but the degree of felony depends on the state statute that classifies crimes.

Recently, the New York State Police arrested two men in Tompkins County for robbery and possession of cocaine. Police say that the two men, ages 31 and 33, forced the victim to the ground and then stole his clothing and backpack allegedly containing $3,000. The incident occurred at the Trumansburg Fair Grounds on the last day of the Grass Roots Festival.

Former state senate leader gets 7 years on felony charges

It may be said that a politician who uses corruption to get elected to an office will be well qualified to corrupt the office itself once elected. That was part of the general message conveyed to former state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith by a federal judge who sentenced Smith to seven years of incarceration recently in a federal district court. The unusual aspect of the felony charges against the defendant was that he tried to use bribery and promises of funding to get support from other politicians for his campaign for mayor of New York City in 2013.

Because he was a Democrat trying to run as a Republican for the mayoral position, he attempted to bribe several Republican legislators to support his campaign. Smith was found guilty by a jury and faced the judge this past week for his scheduled sentencing. The judge pointed out that even if the defendant wanted to be a good mayor, he could not get to that point by corrupting the process to achieve the office.

Bail reform pushed for arrest on non-violent criminal offense

The bail system in New York is unfair and relatively arcane in comparison to most other systems around the country, according to critics. Even where low bail is set for  a misdemeanor or even for an alleged criminal offense that is a nonviolent felony, the accused may languish in the outdated prison facilities at Riker's Island for months or years awaiting a trial. That unacceptable fate may be avoided by pleading guilty, but such a move impinges the future life of the accused, who must be tagged permanently with a criminal record.

That dilemma is the subject of a plan proposed by Mayor DeBlasio's office that would provide supervised release without bail for persons accused of minor offenses who are determined not to be a threat to the community or a risk of flight. While the plan would be an improvement, it cannot address the unfair system that would remain in the rest of the state. A resolution of the problem statewide will take a reformist push by Governor Cuomo and the state legislature.

Prison guard hit with felony charges in New York prison escape

It is unusual to see prison employees assisting convicted murderers to escape from prison. In the case of the two escaped felons from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, the rare situation exists where two persons are now charged in connection with the escape. Felony charges were just announced by authorities against the second employee, a 57-year-old male prison guard. He was charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with evidence and official misconduct.

The man was charged with taking frozen meat embedded with tools and hacksaws to the area where the inmates' cell was located. He allegedly acted at the request of the other defendant, a 51-year-old female, who was the tailor shop instructor who allegedly tried to help the two men escape. The male guard denies that he knew about any contraband. 

Woman may need a solid DWI defense after 3rd charge in 10 years

A New York woman was recently arrested for allegedly drinking and driving. Supposedly, this is actually her third DWI defense within the last decade. According to officials, the charge came after she had a car accident.

The 30-year-old woman is facing a felony DWI charge. For unknown reasons, she apparently drove her vehicle off the road, where it ended up in a side ditch early one recent Tuesday morning. She reportedly refused a blood alcohol test, which may make it harder for prosecutors to prove their case. They'll need to rely on other evidence, such as witness' testimony, physical evidence and personal observations. 

Complex drunk driving laws require seasoned defense counsel

Significant jail sentences are on the books in New York for persons convicted of DUI. The penalties for drunk driving for those under the age of 21 are a bit more relaxed but still serious enough to cause substantial disruption of the person's life. New York also has an Implied Consent Law which requires a mandatory suspension of a person's driver's license for at least one year where that person refuses to cooperate in allowing a blood alcohol test.

The suspension of the driver's license is made effective at an administrative hearing where the presence of experienced criminal defense counsel in DUI matters can be helpful to the individual. There are defenses and mitigating circumstances that can be asserted at the hearing which may partially or totally defeat the attempt to automatically suspend the license.  However, it is inadvisable to attempt this procedure without the assistance of an experienced attorney.