What Are Your Options if You Can’t Afford Bail in NYC?

By Jeff Greco | July 13, 2018

The bail situation in the State of New York is bad enough to make one ex-chief Judge call for an end to the cash bail system altogether, following other states, like Alaska, which have already done the same. Exorbitant bail amounts ranging into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even the millions, have been applied to criminal cases throughout the city. The bail system puts low-risk, non-violent offenders in danger. They are more likely to be convicted. Appalling prison conditions threaten their mental health, and some commit suicide even after they are released. Others are at risk for committing new crimes while they are behind bars. In fact, one study suggests just 3 days in jail makes you 40% more likely to commit new offenses, compared to spending just 24 hours in jail. See also: 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Accused of a Crime. Since we don’t want these outcomes for you and because bail reform isn’t moving so quickly that we want to rely on it, we want to present you with some options when you are presented with some exorbitant bail amount you can’t pay. Option #1 – The Traditional Option The traditional solution is to go to a bail bondsman, who will ask for just 10% of your bail amount. You won’t ever get that money back. If you are acquitted, or the charges are dropped, the court will refund the bondsman the full amount of your bail. That 10% is their profit for the service they rendered. If you can’t afford even the 10% going to family members and friends may be feasible. And if you have taken this option, make sure you hire an outstanding lawyer (see below) and make your court appearance so you don’t end up locked into debt with the bail…

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How Social Media Can Impact Your Criminal Case

By Jeff Greco | July 7, 2018

We’ve all heard about ill-advised social media posts which can impact people’s job searches, dating life, and family relationships. But how might your social media accounts impact your criminal case? Here’s everything you need to know. Social sites are sympathetic to law enforcement and the prosecution. You should be wary when using social media sites, even if you’re not under investigation for any crime. The police have broad leeway to get to your information. They can try to friend you on fake accounts. They can usually get the sites themselves to hand over your information. Meanwhile, both existing laws and ethics rules tie our hands, preventing us from doing the same. Social media can help you or hurt you. Obviously if you’ve taken to social media to confess to a crime you’ve committed or post pictures that place you at the scene of a crime at the right date and time to have committed it then social media could hurt you pretty badly. But your social account doesn’t have to be that blatant to hurt you. Prosecutors have used to to establish ties between defendants and the scene of a crime, witnesses, gangs, and more. Even what you’re wearing in a photograph can be incriminating. Indeed, you can expect your social accounts to be one of the first stops law enforcement will make. At this point, four out of every five investigators is using it to build their cases. See also: Can Facebook Get You Arrested? But social media can also be helpful. It might help you verify an alibi, for example. Sometimes it can be useful to scrutinize witnesses too, helping us to catch inconsistencies in their story we can use when they’re up on the stand, as long as their privacy settings allow us to get to the…

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In the News: Changes to NYC Marijuana Policy

By Jeff Greco | June 20, 2018

Last week we talked about dumb marijuana assumptions people get themselves into trouble with. As we did, NYC lawmakers were busy shifting their approach to how marijuana will be handled within city limits. As of September 1st the city will hand out tickets instead of making arrests for most cases of public marijuana consumption. New York City is changing its policies on marijuana arrests, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some real legal pitfalls for those who choose to indulge. Note this is similar to a policy that was already in place. It simply allows residents to “get caught” with a larger quantity of weed than they would have been able to get away with receiving a ticket for previously. (Or, at least, get caught with, without going to jail.) The policy is expected to cut marijuana arrests by 10,000 per year, but that doesn’t mean marijuana in New York can’t expose you to serious criminal consequences. Even if you only get a ticket, you need a lawyer. Here’s why. Cops can still arrest you, at their discretion. If they arrest you, you’re looking at the same charges you would have been looking at before the policy change. Certain risk factors make it more likely you’ll be arrested. “City residents who get caught smoking and have open warrants, are on parole or probation, have recently been arrested for violent crimes or don’t have ID could still get cuffed. Plus, if an officer thinks someone is putting the public in danger, say, by lighting up behind the wheel, or while riding public transit, they can still be arrested.” –Vice Remember this is a policy change, not a law change. Officers are being encouraged to take a certain course of action, but they can continue to enforce the law the old way at their…

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Can a Victim Drop Domestic Assault Charges in NYC?

By Greco Neyland | June 19, 2018

Charges for domestic assault are some of the most complicated and personal that a private defense lawyer in NYC will handle. Not only can these charges result in serious repercussions if you are convicted, but they also involve matters of the heart and home. In some instances, domestic violence charges are the result of ongoing tension and discrepancy in a relationship. Alternatively, a domestic assault lawyer has cases involving an isolated incident or event. One commonality is that once the room has cleared and passions diffused, both the victim and defendant look at the incident in a new light. On many occasions, our team at Greco Neyland hears that a victim has decided to drop the domestic assault charges. Following this decision, a defendant to domestic assault charges has a number of questions: What does this mean for my case? Am I free of all charges? Can I have contact with the victim? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t as simple. How Is a Defendant Charged with Domestic Assault? In NYC, charges for domestic assault typically come about because the victim, a neighbor, bystander, or concerned party made a phone call to the police. Upon arrival at the residence or other location, the police determined that a domestic assault did occur and made an arrest. At this time, a defendant should contact an NYC domestic assault lawyer. Congruent with criminal procedure, the NYPD or other law enforcement will conduct an investigation of the incident. The police will collect any additional evidence from the scene and eyewitnesses. Law enforcement will also take a statement from the alleged victim. Based on this evidence, and based primarily on the statement of the victim, the prosecutor will file charges for domestic assault against the defendant. Can the Victim Withdraw or Drop Domestic Assault Charges? On television…

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4 Dumb Marijuana Mistakes You Might Be Making (and Why You Need a Marijuana Defense Lawyer)

By Jeff Greco | June 14, 2018

Marijuana legalization is a hotly contested topic all over the nation. While New York seems to be moving towards marijuana legalization, we’re not there yet. Marijuana use and possession has been decriminalized to some degree, but this has only led good people to making some big mistakes which can get them into real trouble. Read on to find out if you’re in danger of becoming one of them. #1) “Oh, it’s legal now.” In 2017 18,000 New Yorkers were arrested for possession. As mentioned, marijuana is not yet legal in the state of New York. So why are people confused? In part, it’s because marijuana possession has been somewhat decriminalized. There is a difference between decriminalizing something and making it legal. If you have less than 25 grams of marijuana and it’s not “in plain view” you can be issued a ticket and a fine instead. This violation will still end up on your record, where it can be accessed by employers or other organizations who might conduct a background check. See our marijuana defense page for more details. We do not recommend handling these tickets yourself. They are not like traffic tickets. The courts also track the number of offenses you plead guilty to. You could start seeing jail time after your third offense. It’s important to have a good defense lined up right away. #2) “If I hand a little to my friend, it’s no big deal.” You didn’t get paid for it, but handing a joint to your buddy could still mean you’re guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. If the joint contains more than 2 grams of marijuana you could be looking at a Class A misdemeanor. Licensed dispensaries can sell medical marijuana under some pretty strict conditions (see below). #3) “But it’s for my migraines!”…

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5 Things TV Gets Wrong About Being Accused of a Crime

By Jeff Greco | June 7, 2018

Most people understand television gets things wrong a lot, but the more realistic a show looks the more likely it is to influence people’s perceptions about the world around them. And no genre seems to impact people’s perception of their reality quite like the police procedural, whether we’re talking about Law and Order, CSI, or any of the numerous dramas out there. These shows are responsible for five problematic perceptions that can cause good people to make big mistakes when they’re in the crossfire of a criminal investigation, mistakes which can easily see them put behind bars. #1) If you’re innocent, you should definitely cooperate with the police! “If you’ve got nothing to hide, Mr. Smith, then you’ve got nothing to lose by talking to us.” Wrong. If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got everything to lose by talking to the police. Have a qualified criminal lawyer present, even if you think you might just be a witness. The police are trying to build a case against someone. Make the wrong statement at the wrong time, and someone could be you. Remember, the police don’t decide guilt or innocence. Juries do. And juries expect you to have a lawyer. Getting a lawyer is not a declaration of guilt. It’s a declaration which says you understand how our justice system works. #2) Court cases are done in a day! Court cases take an average of 14 months to complete. If you can’t post bail, either because you lack the resources or because you didn’t have a lawyer to ease the judge off something totally unrealistic at your bail hearing, you could easily spend all 14 of those months in jail, just as if you were guilty. There’s not much a defense attorney can do about that except represent you well…

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Is Shoplifting Different from Other NYC Theft Charges?

By Greco Neyland | June 6, 2018

You are at the mall and can’t afford a particular jacket from the department store. You decide to put it in your purse and leave without paying. This is shoplifting. Similarly, if you take eight jackets from the department store without paying, or even 200, it is still called shoplifting. Whether you are caught taking one coat or 200, you could be charged with a crime under NY law, but the court and your NYC shoplifting lawyer won’t refer to those charges as shoplifting. When you appear for your first hearing in an NYC criminal court, the judge will read the charges against you. The charges for taking the jacket or jackets will be called larceny. After hearing this unusual word, many people ask their NYC shoplifting lawyer, “are larceny and shoplifting the same thing?” What Is Larceny? Taking the property of another person without permission or consent is stealing. When you steal with the intent to keep or withhold the property from the rightful owner it is a crime. Many other states refer to this crime as theft, but in NY it is called larceny. Larceny is criminalized under Article 155 of the NY Penal Law. An NYC shoplifting lawyer provides a defense to these larceny charges. As explained above, it is a crime to steal the property of another person, irrespective of the value or worth of the property. However, the state recognizes that the theft of more expensive or valuable property imposes greater harm on the victim. To correspond with this greater harm, the state imposes more significant punishments. This means there are different types of larceny, and in NY specifically two different types of larceny. Larceny can be either petit larceny or grand larceny. Section 155.25 of the NY Penal Law says stealing any property is…

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5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Accused of a Crime

By Jeff Greco | May 31, 2018

Most law-abiding citizens don’t have much experience with being accused of a crime. Most of what they know about the process is inaccurate. They’ve watched Law and Order or CSI, and have entered fictional worlds where the cops are never wrong, prosecutors never move forward unless they’re sure they’ve got their guy, and the world is made safer every night because “our justice system works.” People who have been accused of a crime, especially people who are innocent, know better. Here are five things you’ll learn if you’re unlucky enough to be one of them. “Guilty until proven innocent” is often the reality. It’s only “innocent until proven guilty” on paper. Once someone leads you away in handcuffs many people in your community, family, and immediate circle of friends will assume you did it. Everyone else watches CSI too, and the myth of police infallibility continues. This means you have an uphill battle ahead of you with the jury, who suffers from the same biases. If you can’t get an attorney who will lay out the facts of your case in a clear-cut, irrefutable, strong way you may never convince them you shouldn’t be behind bars. Some judges are more interested than being seen as “tough on crime” than in being impartial. This means many of them will also err on the side of favoring the prosecution. This isn’t insurmountable, but again, you need a talented criminal defense lawyer on your side to navigate around the problem. A lawyer who has a lot of experience also knows a lot about the judges themselves: where their biases and blind spots are, what they’ll tolerate and what they won’t. This insider knowledge can be invaluable, and can make all the difference in the world to the success or failure of your case.…

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Why Is It Important to Hire a Private NYC Criminal Lawyer?

By Greco Neyland | May 30, 2018

The U.S. Constitution explicitly guarantees every criminal defendant the right to legal counsel. The Sixth Amendment has further been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to require that if an individual can’t afford legal counsel, the government must provide a public defender to assist in his or her defense. In New York, eligibility for a public defender is determined at arraignment. At this initial court hearing, a defendant can request counsel and provide evidence of the need for a public defender. Need or eligibility may include lack of income, substantial debt, or absence of significant assets to pay a private NYC criminal lawyer. Despite this guarantee of counsel under the Constitution and services offered at the state level, there are significant reasons to hire a private NYC criminal lawyer. Your Choice of Private NYC Criminal Lawyer Is Up to You An NYC criminal court appoints a public defender. In some instances, cases are assigned based on prior experience or seniority, but more often, your pro bono lawyer is determined at random. Leaving your legal counsel to chance and luck makes it impossible for you to choose an NYC criminal lawyer based on the most important criteria. When you choose a private NYC criminal lawyer, it is simply that, a choice. You can hire a lawyer that has specific experience with cases like yours or find an NYC criminal lawyer that perfectly meshes with your personality and wins your trust. Alternatively, you can look for a lawyer that has won important cases in the NYC courts and knows the prosecutors and judges well. It’s even possible to contact and speak with multiple private attorneys until you find the best fit for your defense. A Private NYC Criminal Lawyer Has Control Over Case Management Most NYC public defenders have an extensive caseload.…

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What You Need to Know if Charged with Child Endangerment in NYC

By Greco Neyland | May 23, 2018

An NYC criminal lawyer knows that any and all criminal charges can impact your personal life and relationships, but few offenses have the direct effect associated with accusations of child endangerment. Depending on the severity of the situation, a child could immediately be removed from your care and custody called into question. Often, charges for endangering the welfare of a child have repercussions on your other relationships, including a marriage or partnership. These deeply personal ramifications are in addition to a possible jail sentence, criminal fines, or lengthy probation and make it essential that you defend charges of child endangerment. So, if faced with accusations of this offense here are five facts you should know when contacting an NYC criminal lawyer. #1: Child Endangerment Is a Class A Misdemeanor in New York The legal classification of child endangerment under New York law is endangering the welfare of the child. This offense is found in Article 260 of the New York Penal Law and covers a broad range of actions by an adult tasked with the care, safety, and health of a minor child. These actions may include leaving a child at home alone, having illegal drugs in the same room or vicinity as a minor child, and leaving a child in a vehicle or outdoors without supervision. While the seriousness of these actions and degree of potential harm to a child varies, charges for endangering the welfare of a child are always a class A misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence for a class A misdemeanor in NYC is one year and a criminal fine; avoiding a long jail sentence may require the assistance of an NYC criminal lawyer. #2: Child Endangerment Doesn’t Refer to a Specific Set of Actions There isn’t one action or one set of actions that rise…

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