How Electronic Devices Are Used to Put You in a New York Jail

By Greco Neyland | April 13, 2018

The recent uproar over personal information on Facebook and its use by, now notorious, British company Cambridge Analytica was a firm reminder that devices, apps, web browsers, and email servers are stockpiling our digital data. However, politicians and marketers aren’t the only entities that consider your personal information valuable. During an investigation, law enforcement and prosecutors look to electronic devices and the massive amount of digital data stored there to built a case. In particular, cell phones are a significant source of personal data and history – a fact that is aiding the police and landing people in New York jail every day. A Manhattan criminal defense lawyer meets with clients each week who were arrested and charged with murder, assault, theft, and white-collar crime because of information on a cell phone or other electronic device. This leads to the question: how does law enforcement access the information on your phone and how can they use it in a criminal case? Your Timeline Taken Offline As you post on Facebook and tweet on Twitter, you build an extensive digital history for your network to follow. And an estimated 91% of New Yorkers are using some form of social media. Often, this digital data is used as intended; it allows us to connect, reach, and interact with friends, family, acquaintances, and perfect strangers in a new way. However, the digital timeline and data created by these public posts, messages, updates, and location check-ins can be used in a criminal trial. What you put online could be used to establish your whereabouts at a given time, relationship and interaction with a victim, mindset, and even motive to commit a crime. In certain instances, Facebook posts and private messages on social media were the crime (we blogged about here). Plus, if you think…

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Felony, First Degree, & Class A Violent Felony: How Does New York Divide & Classify Crimes?

By Greco Neyland | March 23, 2018

Terminology is a confusing aspect of New York’s criminal justice system. Not only are a huge number of unique terms used on the legal side, the very description and classification of crimes are unfamiliar to most people who are not a New York criminal lawyer or in law enforcement. You might be thinking, “why is this lack of familiarity with words and classification a problem when every defendant is entitled to a New York criminal lawyer, who should know the definitions and the legal system?” For one, some defendants don’t realize how serious the criminal charges are because they don’t recognize the definitions. A second reason to become more familiar with the division and classification of crimes is it can help you provide better and more reliable information to your New York criminal lawyer. When a defendant is informed, he or she is far better at participating in his or her own defense. Information also helps a defendant stay calm, act more rationally, and build trust with his or her lawyer. #1: What Are Charges in the First Degree? When you are arraigned in a criminal court, the prosecutor reads the charges against you. The prosecutor may say, “Defendant A is charged with murder in the first degree.” For many defendants, the words, “in the first degree,” are a mystery. The degree of offense indicates the severity of the crime committed, and most crimes in New York can be charged in varying degrees. The most egregious crimes are those charged in the first degree, while the least serious is charged in the fourth or fifth degree. The appropriate severity of a criminal charge is determined by the elements of the specific crime. For example, when a murder is intentional and premeditated, it can be charged with murder in the first…

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New York DWI Lawyer Answers to the Most Common Questions About Field Sobriety Tests

By Greco Neyland | March 16, 2018

A New York police officer stops you for swerving, dangerous lane change, or other erratic driving. While speaking to you, the officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Maybe the officer noticed slurred speech, forgetfulness, or other signs of intoxication. At this point, the officer has suspicions of DWI, but doesn’t have concrete evidence of alcohol or drug consumption. One way to establish firm evidence of intoxication in New York is through a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test is a set of physical activities that are straightforward for an individual of clear mind, but difficult or impossible for someone under the influence of alcohol. Each year a New York DWI lawyer receives hundreds of questions about taking, passing, failing and refusing the field sobriety test. Here’s the answer to several of those common questions. “Can I Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?” As a driver in New York, you have given implied consent to submit to a chemical test for the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system. This means there are penalties for refusing to take a breath test or test for a controlled substance. This implied consent does not extend to the field sobriety test, and you can refuse to take it. The Law enforcement must request you take the field sobriety test and must receive your consent. However, just because you have the ability to refuse a field sobriety test, doesn’t mean you should. “Should I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?” There are certain flaws in the New York field sobriety test. The biggest concern for drivers and a New York DWI lawyer is that the test is subjective. Some people will naturally perform the physical requests better, while others may stumble or have inaccuracies because…

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Explanation of Criminal Mischief Under NY Criminal Law

By Greco Neyland | March 9, 2018

NY criminal law divides crimes and criminal activity in several different ways. The NY Penal Code considers the severity of a crime and based on severity or substantiality, the legislature determines if such offense is a felony or misdemeanor. On the other hand, the law also considers who is harmed by specific criminal activity. In the NY Penal Code, crimes are organized and grouped by the type of harm they cause. For example, crimes that harm another person, such as assault and murder fall under crimes against the person. Similarly, gambling and prostitution offenses fall under crimes against public health and morals. The crime criminal mischief is a crime involving the damage of property. Even knowing how crimes are classified and arranged in NY criminal law, it can be difficult to fully understand the elements and definition of a crime. This is usually the case with criminal mischief, and many offenses related to it. So, how do you know if your actions constitute criminal mischief? As, an NY criminal law firm, we’ll explain. What Is Criminal Mischief? According to the NY Penal Code and written NY criminal law, criminal mischief is unlawfully damaging the property of another person. According to NY criminal law, destruction or damage of property is unlawful when the person knows or has reasonable grounds to know that he or she doesn’t have the right to change, manipulate, or damage the property. If you believed your actions were authorized or requested by the property owner, then it isn’t criminal mischief under NY criminal law. The law further explains that damaging abandoned or vacant property is also criminal mischief, and it is also criminal mischief to dismantle communication capabilities with the intent of keeping another person from contacting emergency services or assistance. What isn’t criminal mischief under NY…

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Refused a Breath Test? Get Help from an NYC Criminal Lawyer

By Greco Neyland | February 20, 2018

New Yorkers are well aware that driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is a crime. It’s also common knowledge that the fines, administrative penalties, and possible jail time for DWI are serious punishments. In many instances, DWI defendants work with an NYC criminal lawyer to fight DWI charges. Yet, it surprises most New York residents to learn that refusing a breath test is also an offense under state law. And just as people seek legal assistance for DWI charges, you may need an NYC criminal lawyer to fight accusations you refused a breath or other chemical test. Basics of a Breath Test in New York If you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving or stopped at a DWI checkpoint, law enforcement with probable cause will request you take a chemical test. This chemical test is most commonly in the form of a breath test, otherwise known as a breathalyzer, but could also be a saliva, blood, or urine test. All of these tests measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In New York, police can administer a breath test roadside or back at the police station, but only chemical tests carried out at the station are admissible in court. This means individuals that have a BAC over the legal limit in a roadside test will be tested again after they are arrested. By measuring your BAC, police are able to determine if you are intoxicated from alcohol. Other chemical tests listed above can also check for the presence of controlled substances in your system. Of course, in New York, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is a DWI. You can refuse the breath test requested by an officer. Why Is There a Punishment for Refusing a Breath Test? The police can’t force you to take a breath test, except in…

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Accomplice Liability in New York: What Is Your Crime?

By Greco Neyland | February 9, 2018

You’re sitting in criminal court on a Tuesday morning, listening to a judge read the charges against a friend for burglary. Your friend had broken the window of a townhouse in Greenwich Village and went inside to steal the homeowner’s television, stereo, and other costly electronics. He’d made it out with a few items when the police arrived. They’d been tipped off by the silent alarm. Your friend made a run for the car, but the police took him down and arrested him before he reached the door handle. This friend had handled the burglary on his own. No one else broke the window or helped him remove property from the house, but you are also facing criminal charges for burglary in court that day. Why? You had supplied your friend with the burglary tools needed to break into the house and silently remove the flat screen TV from the wall. Plus, you were sitting in the car, waiting for him to load the stolen property and drive away. With your fingerprints on the burglary tools and a confession of your involvement by the friend, the police have a pretty good case against you – even though you didn’t do any of the acts usually required for burglary. What Is Accomplice Liability in New York? Within the New York Penal Code is a section called “criminal liability for the conduct of another.” This set of provisions covers accomplice liability in New York. It is through use of this statute that the New York Police Department and New York prosecutor can arrest you and charge you with a crime, even though you never used the burglary tools or stole property from within the home in Greenwich Village. Here’s how. The law on accomplice liability in New York states that when one…

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Search and Seizure in New York: What Are Your Rights?

By Greco Neyland | February 2, 2018

Even when you haven’t committed a crime or done something unlawful, encounters with police in New York can be overwhelming and stressful – particularly search and seizure. Often, police questions are confusing, particularly if you are uncertain of the best answer, or whether to answer at all. Furthermore, an individual is at a disadvantage to the police by not understanding his or her rights and the laws that protect citizens during questioning, searches, and seizures. New York police are required to follow due process under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Failure to follow standards of due process can invalidate an arrest or even provide an individual with a claim against the police. However, few people recognize when their rights are violated. At Greco Neyland, we’ve compiled several of the common questions around due process, and New York’s search and seizure laws, specifically. In this article are three of the questions we hear the most, and high-level answers to each. For more information on New York search and seizure and your rights under due process, contact one of our New York law offices #1: When Can the Police Stop and Question Me? The police are permitted to stop citizens and question them in a non-custodial environment. For example, the police may ask individuals on the street if they recognize a suspect in a sketch or police rendering. In these instances, you are not under arrest and you are not required to answer any police questions. At all times in a non-custodial environment, an individual must feel free to go and remain present with the police under his or her own free will. The police cannot take any measures to detain, hold, or seize an individual. #3: When Can the Police Search My Car? Just as the Fourth Amendment forbids…

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4 Actions that Could Lead to Federal Fraud Charges

By Greco Neyland | January 19, 2018

Frequently, defense attorneys and other lawyers talk about federal fraud charges as a set of serious crimes. However, for the majority of people referencing this broad set of federal charges is confusing. The reason for this confusion is how federal criminal laws are structured and arranged. If you went to search for “U.S. fraud statute” you would receive results referencing mail fraud, tax fraud, medical fraud, credit card fraud, identity fraud, and so on. You would quickly notice that each of these types of fraud were entirely separate criminal offenses. Unlike other federal crimes, such as racketeering or hijacking an aircraft, or New York State crimes, such as robbery and sexual assault, there isn’t just one statute that criminalizes fraud, but several. What is Fraud? As a legal term, fraud refers to dishonest actions or behavior undertaken for the purpose of obtaining an unlawful, pecuniary gain. Put another way, fraud is any misrepresentation, false statement, trick, or deceit that is intended to create an undeserved financial benefit for the defendant. This could cover a lot of different illegal behaviors and actions, and it does. A separate federal statute covers each type of federal fraud charges. In some instances, such as health care fraud, there are several federal statutes that criminalize these fraudulent actions. This necessitates that federal fraud charges include information on the exact behavior or actions criminalized and the statute violated. What actions are most likely to lead to investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice? Greco Neyland reviews four actions that we commonly see result in federal fraud charges #1: Tax Evasion & Tax Fraud Everyone is required to file federal income taxes. Similarly, every business is required to file taxes on revenue, expenses, profits, and losses. When making these filings, and other tax reporting, there are…

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Understanding Age of Consent and Statutory Rape Charges in NYC

By Greco Neyland | January 12, 2018

Statutory rape charges in New York are difficult to defend. Not only do the legal parameters of statutory rape make defense complicated, but the charges are rarely uncovered and brought to court by the victim. Instead, the victim’s parents and the state push for a defendant’s arrest, arraignment and conviction. In fact, the victim’s opinion and insight into statutory rape charges matter very little to a New York court. Given the nature of these charges, it’s important to understand exactly what is the age of consent, statutory rape, and what are the criminal charges for having sex with a minor. Misunderstanding or not knowing the laws regarding statutory rape could quickly land you behind bars. What Is Age of Consent in New York In the State of New York, the age of consent is 17 years old. At and after the age of 17, an individual is capable of giving consent to sexual intercourse that is valid under the law. At this age, people may decide for themselves if they wish to participate in intercourse or any other sexual activity. The age of consent in New York is not the same as adulthood. Even at 17, the individual is still a minor in the eyes of the federal government, and still can’t vote, enlist in the military, or serve on a jury. Further, parents or guardians still have certain rights until an individual reaches 18, such as agreeing or refusing to allow a 17 to marry or live outside the family home. It’s also important to recognize that states are tasked with setting the age of consent, not the federal government. Therefore, the age of consent can be and is different in other states. Live or travel outside New York? It is important to remember that Ohio or Texas impose their own…

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Can You Clear a Criminal Record in New York?

By Greco Neyland | January 5, 2018

Criminal convictions, even for a minor crime, carry a stigma for employers, new relationships, creditors, universities, and other individuals. In many instances, places of employment can’t overlook a criminal record to see the great qualities of a candidate. Other people are haunted by criminal charges where the charges were dismissed or they were found not guilty, but evidence of the arrest remains in the public records. This leads many people charged or convicted of a crime in New York to wonder if it’s possible to clear a criminal record or hide it from certain parties. What’s the Short Answer? The short answer is that it is possible to conceal or clear a criminal record in New York. Specific court procedures are passed by the New York Legislature to allow certain individuals to keep their criminal past a secret. However, these processes aren’t available to everyone charged with or convicted or a crime. Speaking with a New York criminal defense attorney about your charges and circumstances is the fastest way to learn if you can clear a criminal record. What Does It Mean to Expunge a Criminal Record? If you’ve searched for ways to clear a criminal record, it’s likely you came across the word “expunge.” In many states, it’s possible to clear or wipe clean a criminal record through the legal process of expungement. The term “expunge” means to erase, obliterate, or remove completely, and for those seeking a clean criminal record this is the most thorough path. Typically, expungement removes any indication of an arrest and conviction from the public record. An entity or organization running a public record check wouldn’t find mention of the criminal conviction. Expunging a criminal record is a court-ordered process that varies by state, with some states only allowing minor misdemeanors to be expunged.…

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