You Have the Right to a Speedy Trial. Will You Get One?

By Jeff Greco | November 9, 2018

The Sixth Amendment gives every American the right to a speedy trial. While this right applies to everyone in theory, the practice is a little more complicated, especially here in New York.    Going to trial in a timely fashion matters, because unless you can make bail you spend the time between you arrest and your trial in prison. Innocent individuals who do not receive the benefit of a speedy trial have been known to spend months, or even years, in prison. One particularly shocking case involved a defendant who ​waited for six years​.   Even if you are out of prison trial delays can mean days of missed work as you run back and forth to work, to say nothing of the strain and stress of being put on trial in the first place.     The length of the wait can depend on two factors.    It depends on your case type. It also depends on where you’re being tried.    Misdemeanor cases are more likely to wait than felony cases.     As for your location, in Manhattan, you may be fine.    In the Bronx, you could be in trouble. Though all boroughs have gotten better at offering timely trials, the Bronx has been known to keep defendants on hold for ​over three years​.    The backlog ​is ​improving. Focused efforts are underway. That doesn’t mean you should rely on either improvement or reforms without getting some additional help.    How is this happening?    In New York, prosecutors only have to show they’re ​ready ​for trial within a certain period of time. “Ready” can mean a lot of different things, and prosecutors have a lot of tools which can help them delay cases.     Representation can help.     With the help of a private lawyer you’re more likely to get ​a reasonable bail amount​. Arguing for a lower bail amount…

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How Discovery Laws Impact Your Criminal Case in New York

By Jeff Greco | October 30, 2018

Here on this blog we’ve been watching and discussing some of the hot issues behind criminal justice reform in New York. One such issue is the issue of discovery, which has a big impact on how your case proceeds. On television courtroom dramas lawyers produce surprise witnesses and evidence all the time. Big, dramatic reveals are the order of the day. But in truth, prosecutors and defense lawyers are supposed to share all their evidence with one another. This is a federal standard thanks to the 1963 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. While the Brady case specifically discussed exculpatory evidence the truth is the defense and prosecution should have access to all evidence held by the other side. Witness statements need proper examination and investigation. Knowing your accuser is a basic right thanks to the 6th Amendment. But under New York’s discovery laws, prosecutors don’t strictly have to turn over any of their evidence until the moment the trial begins. Prosecutors argue this protects victims and witnesses from intimidation and death threats and keeps New York safer overall. This is one reason why these discovery laws tend to become a problem for defense attorneys in drug cases more than they do in other sorts of cases: drugs tend to be attached to gangs who have the resources to both make and execute threats. But most states enjoy “open discovery,” which compels prosecutors and defense attorneys to share their evidence far earlier in the process. As proponents of reform argue, neither witnesses nor victims have been any less safe in these states. The debate rages on. The laws haven’t changed yet. So how does all this impact your case? First, if your defense attorney isn’t successful at getting prosecutors to turn over their evidence any earlier then you may be…

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What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

By Jeff Greco | October 22, 2018

The Institute for Justice calls it “policing for profit:” laws allowing police officers to seize money, vehicles, and other assets during an arrest. In about 60% of these cases, even people who are never convicted of a crime rarely see their property ever again. Getting the property back almost always requires an attorney’s help. Consider this story: “In the middle of the night in March of 2012, NYPD officers burst into the Bronx home of Gerald Bryan, ransacking his belongings, tearing out light fixtures, punching through walls, and confiscating $4,800 in cash. Bryan, 42, was taken into custody on suspected felony drug distribution, as the police continued their warrantless search. Over a year later, Bryan’s case was dropped. When he went to retrieve his $4,800, he was told it was too late: the money had been deposited into the NYPD’s pension fund. Bryan found himself trapped in the NYPD’s labyrinthine civil forfeiture procedure, a policy based on a 133-year-old law which robs poor New Yorkers of millions of dollars every year; a law that has been ruled unconstitutional twice.” –Gothamist In some cases, the practice has even applied to real estate. The NYPD did agree to some new rules for this practice back in February. They aren’t much, but they represent a slight improvement. Civil asset forfeiture continues to be an issue targeted by criminal law reform efforts in New York. While civil asset forfeiture isn’t really the focus of our law firm, it is a big part of stories we hear every day from defendants who have been blindsided by their interaction with the justice system. This practice puts more strain on people who are already undergoing the scariest time of their life. Usually, you’ll see civil asset forfeiture during drug cases, which are always high-stakes cases. By the…

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Consequences of Violating a New York Order of Protection

By Greco Neyland | October 19, 2018

If you are accused of a violent or domestic offense, it is likely the alleged victim will seek a New York order of protection against you. This court order comes with a specific set of conditions that must be followed. Not only does the consequence of violating a New York order of protection include a possible impact on your criminal case, but could lead to additional criminal charges. Here’s what you need to know about a New York order of protection and the reasons to fully understand the requirements and conditions of any order against you. What Is a New York Order of Protection? Most states refer to an order of protection as a restraining order. While the terminology used in New York is different, the legal effect is the same. A New York order of protection is a document requested by a victim, signed by a judge, and issued by a court that restrains or restricts the behavior of a New York criminal defendant or individual involved in a family law matter. The exact conditions of a New York order of protection can vary, but generally, an order of protection restricts the defendant’s ability to contact a supposed victim of a crime or domestic violence. Common requirements of a New York order of protection include limitations on calling, texting, emailing, or other electronic communication with the victim, not going within a certain distance of the victim, and not visiting the victim’s home or place of employment. There can be several other restrictions included in an order of protection, if so requested by the alleged victim or determined necessary by a New York City judge. When Is a New York Order of Protection Issued? There are two courts that issue orders of protection in New York. If a victim is…

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But Only Bad People Get Arrested, Right?

By Jeff Greco | October 15, 2018

As New York City criminal justice attorneys one of the most common things we encounter is a defendant who is completely poleaxed and blindsided by their sudden encounter with the justice system. These individuals could have been engaged in activities that seemed perfectly reasonable or simply falsely accused. All our lives, most of us go around believing if we simply avoid breaking the law we’ll never have to worry about getting arrested. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take one of the cases outlined on Season 3 of Serial. In Season 3 of this crime and justice podcast Sarah Koenig explores the justice system by looking at the everyday cases in an Ohio court. One of the cases she comes across is the case of a young woman who was sexually assaulted by a young man slapping her rear repeatedly in a bar. You’d think the young man would end up arrested, but nothing happened to him. Instead, a bar fight broke out that this woman didn’t even start. Multiple patrons began hitting and kicking her. She was flailing in self-defense. She happened to strike a cop in her flailing, one whose presence she was unaware of. All this was caught on tape. The cops arrested the woman. For assaulting a police officer. Unfair by any reasonable person’s standards. Insane. Out of all the people causing trouble in the bar that night, they picked the victim trying to defend herself. But this sort of thing happens all the time. Then there are the innocent people who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And “wrong place” can vary. See this case of a Harvard Professor who was placed under arrest in his own home because the wrong person saw him trying to deal…

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What Happens Between Arrest and a New York Criminal Trial?

By Greco Neyland | October 10, 2018

From the outside looking in, it is difficult to understand New York criminal procedure. Many first-time defendants anticipate that their arrest will immediately result in a New York criminal trial, but that isn’t the case. It can take weeks and even months before your case is argued before a jury. Yet, the intervening steps, wedged between arrest and a New York criminal trial, are extremely important to the outcome. Any New York criminal defense lawyer can tell you that every court appearance, every deposition, every piece of evidence, or negotiation with the prosecutor could change the verdict in a New York criminal trial. So, what occupies the days, weeks, and months from arrest to court? Our team at Greco Neyland in New York City explains. #1: First Court Appearance: Arraignment At the time of your arrest, the arresting officer will read the charges against you. This moment isn’t much different than what you see in movies and television. The police officer or federal agent will state that you are under arrest for a specific crime and then read you your Miranda Rights. However, you aren’t formally charged with a crime until arraignment. In New York, arraignment must occur within 24-hours of an arrest. This is common across the United States, but few other states have the explicit requirement. Most jurisdictions rely on a looser standard – reasonable amount of time after arrest. Whether your arraignment takes place within hours of your arrest or the next morning, this is the first court appearance of your New York criminal trial. At an arraignment, the judge will formally read the criminal charges against you and then ask for your plea. In New York, you can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Only if you plead not guilty will there…

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Pay Attention to November Elections if You Care About Criminal Justice Reform in New York

By Jeff Greco | October 6, 2018

Our goal in this blog is not to support one candidate or party over others. That’s not our purpose. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t call your attention to an interesting article in The Gothamist run earlier this week, breaking down the state of criminal justice reform in New York and how different candidates may impact the issues under debate one way or the other. The issues at stake include bail reform, discovery, the right to a speedy trial, parole reform, the decriminalization of marijuana, civil asset forfeiture, record expungement, the issue of whether immigrants should be deported over misdemeanors, and the impact of court fees and fines on low-income defendants. We’ve covered some of these issues on our blog before. It seems a good time to round up some resources, both on-site and off-site, where you can learn more. Bail Reform Off-Site: What Bail Reform Could Look Like in New York Center for Court Innovation: Bail Reform The Atlantic on the Failure of New York’s Bail Law On-Site: What Are Your Options if You Can’t Afford Bail in NYC? Parole Reform Off-Site: Push to Change the New York State Parole System Hard-Won Parole Board Reforms Under Attack in New York Fear-Mongering vs. Reality in New York Parole On-Site: What to Do If You’re Accused of Violating Parole Decriminalization of Marijuana Off-Site: District Attornies Dismantle Legacy of Tough Marijuana Enforcement 3000 Marijuana Cases Thrown Out in Manhattan Marijuana Advocates Urge New York to Make it Legal, Affordable On-Site: Why Decriminalization of Marijuana May Not Spare You an Arrest In the News: Changes to NYC’s Marijuana Policy 4 Dumb Marijuana Mistakes You May Be Making Record Expungement Off-Site: Sealed Criminal Records On-Site: Can You Clear a Criminal Record in New York? Immigration & Misdemeanors Off-Site: Brooklyn Moves to Protect…

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What Are the Common Fraud Charges in New York?

By Greco Neyland | October 3, 2018

Fraud charges in New York are confusing. Often, these charges aren’t confusing because they are complex or the underlying criminal law is complicated, but rather because there are many different types of fraud charges in New York. You can be accused of fraud involving information, money, bank accounts, credit cards, personal data, and more. What Leads to Fraud Charges in New York? Fraud is defined in New York as a lie or misrepresentation that is made with the intent to defraud, deceive, or injure another party. This is a broad definition for a specific set of criminal actions and can include everything from forgeries to embezzlement. Frequently, criminal defense lawyers tackle cases that don’t involve just one act of fraud, but an entire scheme or scam. Often these more substantial fraud charges in New York fall under federal law, not the New York Penal Law. The ways to implement frauds in New York vary greatly from one scheme to the next. There are seemingly endless tactics for carrying out a fraud. For example, a list of the top ways to commit credit card fraud would include eight to ten different schemes – and those are just the most frequent ways to carry out this very common crime. At Greco Neyland in New York City, we dedicate a substantial part of our practice to the defense of fraud charges in New York. Through these past cases, we’ve developed a good understanding of the most common fraud charges in New York and what each means for a defendant. #1: Healthcare Fraud Schemes Healthcare fraud is not only among the common fraud charges in New York but is one of the most frequent fraud schemes throughout the United States. Back in 2014, the Economist stated that healthcare fraud in the United States amounted…

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What is New York’s Felony Murder Rule?

By Jeff Greco | September 28, 2018

It can happen in a heartbeat. Someone sets out to commit a robbery. Just a robbery. Meanwhile, an accomplice gets spooked. Someone gets shot. Someone dies. Now the first robber is sitting in jail, and has been charged with both robbery and murder. What just happened? What happened is the first robber has run afoul of New York’s Felony Murder Rule, which says if someone dies while you’re committing a crime, because you’re committing a crime, you’re guilty of second-degree murder. New York isn’t the only state with such a rule, which stretches all the way back to laws crafted in England, in 1536. Of course, we’ve seen this rule impact people who didn’t even know a crime was about to happen. In another state, one defendant was convicted under the felony murder rule for a crime committed while he was sleeping in his bed. The reason? He lent his car to a roommate, who used it to commit the crime. He had lent the car to his roommate dozens of times before, without incident. This is a fine example of how a good person could end up running afoul of the law in a way that simply blindsides them. If you find yourself in a similar position you can’t trust sense and sensibility will simply prevail. While New York has generally been reasonable in how it applies this rule, some prosecutors and judges are so eager to appear “tough on crime” they’ll throw the book at anyone they can, whether it makes sense or not. You need a good lawyer by your side to give yourself a shot at retaining your life and freedom. It’s not hard to find stories of bad judges right here in our city. Prosecutors aren’t held as accountable as they should be. And our…

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Beware: In New York, there Are No Statute of Limitation Protections for these Crimes

By Jeff Greco | September 24, 2018

Sometimes, you can outlast a crime. Commit the crime, get into no further trouble, and wait for the clock to run out. Eventually you can’t be convicted of that crime anymore. However, for four types of crimes, this isn’t the case. At least, not in New York. You can be charged with these crimes any time after they happen. Sometimes the facts of the case will actually impose a statute (some forms of arson can create a two or 5-year statute), but it’s usually safest to assume no clock is running if you happen to be guilty of any of the following crimes. Arson Arson is a more common crime in New York than most people realize. In fact, in the 1970s it was common enough to happen just about every day. It’s not nearly so common now, but it’s certainly taken seriously. See our Arson Defense page to find out more about what you need to know about being charged with this crime. Kidnapping Kidnapping has no statute for the most part. It is sometimes prosecuted by the state and sometimes prosecuted by the federal government. Some kidnapping cases have facts which could produce a 5-year statute. This would include parental kidnapping. Interfering with court ordered custody arrangements and taking off with your child is still a criminal act with no statute. First Degree Murder There is never any statute of limitations on murder. If you have ever killed someone you need to be prepared for the idea that the facts of the case may someday come to light. Sometimes even very cold cases get solved. If you know you have committed this crime it’s a good idea to have an attorney you trust on speed dial on your phone. Any Class A Felony There are some felony crimes…

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