New York Firefighter Claiming Self-Defense in Altercation with Fellow Firefighter

New York firefighter Baraka Smith was arrested at his first day at work at Engine Company 225 after an altercation in the lock room with another firefighter Salvatore Corallo took place. Smith, an 11 year veteran, is accused of putting a chokehold on Corallo until he fell unconscious. Smith’s attorney, James Kildruff, says that Smith denies the charges of assault and strangulation and says he was only defending himself. Department sources say that Smith was transferred to Engine Company 225 from a Brownsville firehouse to cool off tensions with colleagues and has had past disciplinary problems.

Strangulation

Under New York Penal Code Section 121.12, the crime of strangulation is considered a separate felony offense from assault when you choke another person or strangle them with the intention of stopping their ability to breath or impeding their blood flow to the point that the person passes out or is incapacitated in any other manner. The crime of strangulationo has becomes a common criminal offense in domestic violence cases.

There are three degrees of strangulation that you could be charged with in New York:

Class A is a misdemeanor. This is where an individual is guilty of the criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation of another person, but no damage or injury has taken place.

Class D felony or strangulation in the second degree. This is where the victim loses consciousness, is in a stupor, or there is a physical impairment.

Strangulation in the first degree. This is considered a hate crime and carries additional penalties.

Class C Violent Felony. This is when the strangulation results in a serious physical injury or impairment or the strangulation causes death of another.

Assault

Under New York Penal Code Section 120.00, assault and related offenses, are categorized as first degree, second degree or third degree assault. Assault and battery are used interchangeably and mean that you intended to harm another person. Simple battery is considered a misdemeanor.

First degree assault. There must be intent to cause serious physically harm to someone.

Second and third degree assault. The defendant must have acted recklessly or with a dangerous weapon or was negligent. No intent is necessary.

Aggravated assault is a more serious felony offense, which means that you deliberately intended to harm, injure or kill someone, or you used a dangerous weapon to harm them.

Why You Need a NYC Strangulation/Assault Attorney

You could face serious penalties and a long prison sentence if convicted for a felony strangulation and/or assault. Therefore it is essential that you find a qualified NYC strangulation and assault criminal defense attorney to represent you.

What you Should Know About New York Driving Laws Concerning Mobile Phones and Electronic Devices

mobileUnder New York law, it is illegal to hold a portable electronic device such as a mobile phone or laptop computer while driving. This means that you may not talk on a handheld mobile phone, text, read email, surf web pages, play games or transmit images. A portable electronic device is any hand-held mobile phone or laptop computer, or personal digital device.

Exceptions

There are exceptions to the law. You may use a hands-free mobile telephone or an electronic device that is affixed to the surface of your vehicle. It is permissible to use your device in an emergency to call the police, fire department, hospital or doctor’s office or an ambulance. Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles in the performance of official duties are also exempt under the law.

Penalties and Fines

For violating the law, you could receive a fine up to $150 and 5 driver violation points for offenses committed after June 1, 2013. Prior to that, it was up to a $150 fine and 3 driver violation points. Effective, July 26, 2013 fines are increasing between $50 to $150 for a first offense, $50.00 to $200 for a second offense and $50 to $400 for a third or more offense within an 18 month period. Commercial drivers are prohibited from making any phone calls using a hand held device or other electronic device while stationery as well.

NHTSA Reports on Driver Inattention

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report in April 2006 entitled The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, 80% of the time driver inattention was the primary factor in automobile accidents and 65% in near crashes. The report also revealed that talking, listening or dialing using a hand held device was the primary cause of crashes the past few years, but that eating and applying makeup were also included as part of the driver distractions.

Internet Sex Crimes

Internet sex crimes include the possession of child pornography, solicitation of a minor, providing online of sending emails or texts of nude photos via a mobile device. New York considers Internet sex crimes serious. You could be charged with a first, second or three degree felony depending on the nature of the sex crimes such as downloading child pornography to your computer or producing or promoting it.

There is also the social stigmata associated with a New York Internet sex crime. A conviction could ruin your life making it difficult for you to find a place to live or even a job. You should hire a sex crime attorney immediately if you are under suspicion of a sex crime or have been charged with an Internet sex crime to help defend you. A NYC sex crime attorney understands the seriousness of this crime and will be able to help you fight the charges and clear your name.

Penalties

New York Penal Code Statute 130.05 sets forth the definitions of sex crimes. If convicted of an Internet sex crime, you could face jail time, penalties and fines as well as having to register as a sex offender for life. Anyone can be mistakenly accused of Internet sex crimes, even someone who is innocent. Therefore, it is extremely important to refrain from giving the police any information that may be used against you. It is recommended that do not make any statements to law enforcement unless you have an attorney present. The best advice is to hire an experienced NY criminal defense sex crime attorney immediately. Having a knowledgeable NYC criminal defense lawyer at your side, who is experienced in defending clients facing sex crimes charges, gives you the peace of mind that your rights are being protected.

Hiring a NYC Sex Crimes Lawyer

Facing charges for an Internet sex crime require the assistance of a New York criminal defense sex crime Lawyer. Our firm’s NY sex offender lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about New York sex crime laws. We have successfully defended hundreds of clients facing similar charges will successful outcomes. Your New York criminal defense sex crime attorney will use all the resources available to investigate your case, interview witnesses and establish strong defenses such as mistaken identity, entrapment or lack of intention to engage in a sex act. We are committed to providing you with the highest level of service. We will stand beside you all the way until we get your charges reduced, get you alternative sentencing or get your case dismissed.

Queens Man Arrested for Firing a Realistic Toy Gun in Queens Park

pawlowskiA Queens man by the name of Jack Pawlowski was arrested on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 for firing a toy gun that resembled a real weapon and then handed it to his three year old son and other family members to play with. Apparently some people at Ditmar’s Park thought the gun was real. Maria Smilios of Astoria told CBS that Pawlowski pulled out the gun, which she saw up close and thought was real. Smilios showed CBS a cell phone photo showing Pawlowski firing pellets at a tree. She said he handed the gun to his three year old son and then also gave the gun to his daughter, who took off on her bike around the park pointing it at children. Another witness, Leni Calas called police and posted a cell phone photo of Pawlowski on her website to publicly shame him for playing with the toy gun.

Police arrested and charged Pawlowski with reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a minor, resisting arrest, and possession of an illegal BB gun. Pawlowski’s family called the incident an over-reaction to the toy gun. Pawlowski’s wife told CBS that “her husband was sorry and it would never happen again.” BB guns are outlawed in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and other cities around the country.

New York Safe Act Law

New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. You must obtain a firearm’s permit to own a gun. Mayor Bloomberg has led a campaign to keep guns off the streets of New York City. New York passed the NY Safe Act, which prevents criminals and dangerously mentally ill persons from buying a gun by requiring a universal gun check on all gun purchases. The Act also increase the penalties for persons who use illegal guns and mandates life in prison sentences without the possibility of parole for anyone who murders a first responder, as well containing the strictest assault weapons ban in the nation.

Hiring a New York Gun Attorney to Defend You

If you are found in possession of a firearm without a permit, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. In order to fight the charges effectively, it is necessary to hire an experienced NYC gun attorney to defend you. Our firm will investigate all the charges against you, talk to witnesses and make sure that your constitutional rights have not been violated. We will try to negotiate a resolution of your charges with the prosecutor, including getting the charges reduced to a lesser crime, community service or probation or get the charges dropped.

Arrests Rise, Prisons Empty?

The biggest observation over the last few years is that the crime rate in New York City has fallen. Unbelievably, the New York Post reports that aggressive policing can also lower prison population. This certainly does not seem obvious, but studies have shown that New York State’s prison population has fallen and yet we’ve all heard the crime in New York City has also dropped.

The cause for this unusual result was found in a study sponsored by the JFA Institute, The Brennan Center for Justice and the Vera Institute of Justice. The study found that due to the fact that NYPD has been focusing on the misdemeanor crimes, there has been an overall rise in arrests, but felony arrests have fallen and these are the crimes that have penalties in state prison.

There has been much criticism of NYPD’s “stop, question and frisk” policy and the study does not necessarily endorse that policy. The results do show though that concentrating on criminal activities in their earlier stage, the misdemeanor. Therefore, misdemeanor entry to Rikers Island has increased in the last 20 years, but felony entries have been fewer.

Another result that this study revealed is that the length of State prison sentences were longer and New York might possibly lead the whole country in length of incarceration. The final outcome of this research is that the stronger NYPD presence has revitalized the city.

While this is the result of the study, not everyone agrees with aggressive policing and Legal Services and defense attorneys have had complaints against overaggressive policing like the “stop and frisk” activity and the possible effect on personal liberties and constitutional rights. Anyone that feels they have been unjustly treated by the police may want to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Bukh Law Firm, PC is experienced in criminal law and available 24 hours, every day.

Police Shop for Drugs Online

That’s right at least 21 people were stupid enough to advertise the sale of prescription drugs on Craigslist.   One person even mentioned in his ad that “no law enforcement” should answer.  Strangely enough NYPD, who had been working for a while on “Operation Dot Com”, ignored this plea and arrested that person and 20 others for sale of Vicodin, Percocet, Adderal and other prescription drugs in addition to cocaine online.

These defendants, who ranged in years from 22 to 62, came from many varied backgrounds such as an NYU student, a financial adviser and a professional photographer to name a few.  The police, even though asked not to in the ad, started answering these ads about a year ago and bought about $19,000 in pills and $10,400 in cocaine and in the end made 63 buys.  They met these sellers in broad daylight in places like Penn Station and the Village.

Is this entrapment?  Not likely, more likely it is just plain ignorance that will cost these folks some time in jail and a drug arrest on their records.  Some of those caught had the temerity to say that they didn’t know it was illegal, seriously!  Yes, it is illegal to sell prescription drugs whether your own or someone else’s at all and doing it on Craigslist doesn’t make it legal, just more convenient.

While this may seem like a small operation in the world of large drug busts with pounds and kilos of heroin and cocaine being hauled in, it is a start both on the part of the NY government and the Federal government in cracking down on the rising epidemic of people addicted to prescription painkillers.  If your friend hands you a Vicodin and you take it that is on the edge of illegal, if you pay them for it then they are trafficking and you are buying, do it a lot and your friend is dealing and you are in possession.  Final note, it is always best not to advertise these types of transactions on Craigslist or Facebook or Twitter or any other public place!

Media and Prosecutors Blamed for Rift between Attorney and his Client

Attorney David Griem

Delay tactics can sometimes get you into a pinch. Judge Kenneth J. King denied a motion by Robert Bashara’s attorneys to be removed from the case. There are several reasons this can happen. Bashara cited his lawyer’s ineffectiveness and blamed the prosecutor and media. Attorney David Griem cites a breakdown in communication as the reason for needing to quit the case.

I’m not going to go as far as to say that Griem is making a bad habit of this, but it is the second high profile case he’s quit/been fired from recently. When attorney/client relationships break down, it’s time for both the client and the attorney to set their egos aside and figure out how to fix the problem. They need to take responsibility for their relationship instead of blaming news media and the prosecution. An effective attorney should have a team that can handle the media.

An attorney/client relationship is a lot like a marriage. It takes work, communication, compromise, trust and perseverance to make it work. Inevitably, both sides will feel at a disadvantage at some point. It’s important to be confident and open in your communications with your client in order to act in the client’s best interest.

Perhaps the funniest turn of events came when Griem’s request to withdrawal from the case was denied by Chief Judge Kenneth J. King. Bashara was called onto the carpet for trying to delay his next hearing in the hopes that a key witness would pass away due to severe health problems.

NY criminal lawyer Arkady Bukh points out that a criminal defense attorney’s job is to protect the defendants’ rights. It’s inevitable that some of your clients will be guilty of the crimes they’ve been accused of. You have to hang in there with your client, through thick and thin, in order to act in their best interests. Your job is to stick with them, guilty or not. You also need to be capable of extending unconditional respect and feeling empathy for your client at all times.

Town in Massachusetts Wants to Fine Potty Mouths

Middleborough, Massachusetts wants to fine people who use profanity in public.  They would like to make profanity “disorderly conduct”.  This got me thinking about the movie Demolition Man where every time someone cursed they were issued a fine.  Is this the direction we’re headed?  Okay, okay, this is one town in a liberal state, maybe we’re not there…yet.  Disorderly conduct is one of those “lesser” charges that most municipal courts punish with fines.  In extreme cases, disorderly conduct can be punishable by days in jail.  When I read about laws like these I can see where they could become a serious income generator for a county or region, but I am not sure that I like the idea of punishing someone for a word and using a charge that can result in jail time.

I would be interested to read what other criminal attorneys think about fining people for saying “shit”.  Obviously the people of Middleborough think that this is a good idea, but then this is also the state that gave us the Salem Witch Trials.

Should words be fined?  Which words?  Who gets to decide what is offensive and what is not?  Is “piss” offensive?  How about “damn”?  Will “jerkwad” ever make the list?  Furthermore, will a hierarchy be put in place where some curse words receive stiffer fines?

Do you see where I am going with this?

Disorderly conduct is meant for those activities which disturb the peace.  Disorderly conduct is a charge that defense attorneys will defend you from so that you don’t receive jail time or have a criminal history. Disorderly conduct must meet—or should me—the requirement of truly disturbing the citizenry or else there is no reason to charge to someone with it.

George Zimmerman and the Presumption of Innocence: Redux

As a NYC Criminal Attorney, I was under the false impression that this would die down after a while, but I forget it is an election year and we still have 24 hour news networks. So, I’ve decided to write this post on the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case—mostly, because I’ve found that when talking to clients each day people feel now that you can get away with murder in the United States if you are the right color. I’m not sure if this is pre-planning or wishful thinking, but allow me to tell you that no one, regardless of color, can get away with murder.

The police did not arrest George Zimmerman because at the time they were under the impression that a fatal shooting in self-defense did occur. He was brought in for questioning and released. This shows that they followed their process. Had they taken his statement at the scene and then left, the outrage would have been more justified. Not all shootings necessarily lead to an arrest—even those that are fatal. In our line of work we would rather see police release someone while investigating than potentially incarcerating an innocent person. This rarely happens (innocent people get the shaft every day), so in great irony when presumption of innocence is actually taken to heart people get upset about it. So upset, that they are considering changing laws in Florida to restrict rights.

As a criminal defense firm we don’t get the luxury of being able to say that someone should be denied this presumption just because we don’t like them. Our criminal attorneys have to support the rights of every client who steps through our door to equal justice and a fair trial. Regardless of whether I might personally feel George Zimmerman was not in imminent danger, I still expect that our legal traditions be upheld. I don’t like the politicization of this whole mess. Justice rarely walks hand in hand with our legal system because of our inability to be just, but when we throw out the law and legal principles because of anger we have denied justice fundamentally.

For more comments, contact my office:

Bukh Law Firm PC, 14 Wall Street, New York NY 10005, (212) 729-1632