The Defense of Self-Defense

Probably the oldest legal defense put forth by those persons charged with crimes and tried by criminal courts on those charges is the defense of self-defense. We are all sympathetic to the concept of self-defense – it’s something that we all instinctively understand. The universality of the legal right of self-defense has its root in a number of historical sources. Although self-defense is perhaps the oldest legal defense and has been one of the most successful historically, the reality is that if you are accused of a crime in the 21st century in the United States, self-defense can also be one of the most uncertain defense strategies. If you are arrested and charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, discuss your options and alternatives with an experienced criminal defense attorney before settling on any legal defense strategy, and in the New York City and Long Island areas, speak first with an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.

The legal right of self-defense (and by extension the right to the defense of others) is the right of persons to use reasonable force to defend one’s own life or the lives of others, including, in certain circumstances, the use of deadly force. Going back a few centuries, self-defense is a legal defense found in the Book of Exodus. However, the modern self-defense legal principle is built on the ancient Roman concept of dominium, the Roman legal principle that any attack on the members of a family or on the family’s property was the legal equivalent of a personal attack on the family patriarch or pater familias. In England, the Statute of Gloucester in 1278 allowed defendants who killed in self-defense to apply to the king for a pardon. Early modern English political theorists and philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke poetically described the right to defend oneself as the “first law of nature.”

It is important to understand that self-defense is offered as a justification for an action rather than as an excuse for the action. In other words, by offering self-defense as a legal defense, you are not making an excuse for a crime, but rather you are asserting that no crime was in fact committed. Today in the United States, the general rule is that a person may use such force as reasonably appears necessary to defend himself or herself against an apparent threat of unlawful and immediate violence from another person or persons. In cases involving force that is not deadly, the person must reasonably believe that their use of force was required to prevent immediate, illegal physical harm. When deadly force is involved, the person must also reasonably believe that deadly force was imperative to prevent great bodily harm or death. To employ the legal defense of self-defense, you must be able to prove that someone else was about to kill, injure, rape, or unlawfully touch you imminently – that is, immediately. If you acted only because of a threat of future harm, no matter how believable the threat or how substantial the harm, you may not argue that you acted in self-defense.

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Many states – although not New York – no longer require you to “retreat” or to try and escape from an aggressor prior to the use of deadly force. And even in the states like New York that do require you to retreat, there is no legal obligation to retreat when retreat is unsafe or when you are inside your own home. The question of retreat in such circumstances was shoved into the media spotlight again several years ago by the controversial George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case out of Florida. Primarily because the state of Florida does not, like New York, require you to retreat and allows you, unlike New York, to “stand your ground,” Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

So what exactly does the law say about self-defense and “standing your ground” in the state of New York? It’s difficult to give a precise answer that would apply to an actual case, because every case is different and is judged individually. In the state of New York, the legal doctrine of “justification” is about proportionality and reasonableness. Your response to an attack must be proportional to that attack. If someone punches you in the nose, you are probably – in most cases – justified in punching him or her back in the nose to defend yourself. However, in that same hypothetical circumstance, you would not be justified in shooting your attacker – unless your attacker responded to your self-defensive punch in the nose by pulling out a knife or a gun. In other words, it all depends.

For a self-defense legal defense to succeed in a courtroom, the threat of attack must have been immediate. Here’s an example: if a local organized crime “enforcer” comes to your place of business and says that he wants weekly payments or he will bust your kneecaps, and you respond with force, you can’t use justification as a defense. You cannot use self-defense as a defense if you are the initial aggressor, and you cannot act justifiably in self-defense against a promised future attack. The primary legal issue in the state of New York is whether you genuinely believed that you had to use physical force to defend yourself and whether that belief was reasonable. In other words, you need to actually have believed that physical force was necessary, and it must have been a situation where an average person would come to the same conclusion. It is this second condition – the theoretical “average person’s” perception – that frequently helps prosecutors defeat a claim of justified self-defense.

Justified self-defense gets even more complicated as a legal defense when the charge is homicide and you claim that you used what the law calls “deadly force” in your self-defense. You are allowed to respond proportionally to an assailant so long as you use only “physical” force. However, if “deadly” force is used, the law is different. You may only use deadly physical force when you believe – and when your belief would be reasonable to an average person – that deadly physical force is being used against you. Secondly, you may not use deadly physical force if you have some way to retreat to safety. However, if the incident happens in your own home, you are under no obligation to retreat. This is the “castle doctrine,” the legal concept that you are allowed to defend your home if necessary without having to retreat.

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You should understand that if you are prosecuted for a crime and you choose to employ self-defense as your legal defense, you are essentially waiving your right to offer any other type of defense. By claiming self-defense, you are in fact admitting that you committed the act that you are accused of committing and that you acted with conscious intent rather than accidentally. Thus, there can be genuine risks associated with a self-defense strategy. A good criminal defense lawyer will be able to look at the specific details of your own case and advise you regarding the pros and cons of claiming that you acted in self-defense. In some cases, your attorney may recommend an entirely different defense strategy.

The reality – whether we like it or not – is that self-defense is more likely to be a successful criminal defense when it is offered by someone who is “respectable in the community” with no significant criminal record, and when the “victim” is a known criminal or a person of questionable character. Anyone with a history of violence or with prior criminal convictions will typically have a much harder time persuading a jury that their use of force was reasonable, defensive, or justifiable. If there is any question about who was the criminal and who was the victim, self-defense may quickly become difficult or impossible to prove, and when such doubts emerge, self-defense probably will not succeed as a defense strategy

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If you are arrested and charged with a crime in the New York City or Long Island area or anywhere else, before even considering self-defense or any other defense strategy, you must retain the legal representation you need at once and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Do not attempt to act as your own lawyer. Answer no questions from the police. Instead, insist – politely – on your constitutional right to remain silent and on your right to have an attorney present during any interrogation by the police. Do not plead guilty to any criminal charge or agree to any plea bargain prior to consulting with a good criminal defense lawyer.

In New York City or on Long Island, if you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. In a nutshell, self-defense can be an effective legal defense, but only in specific kinds of criminal cases. Your defense attorney will consider a number of factors, including the level of threat that you faced, the level of force that you used, your personal background, and a number of other items before recommending self-defense as your defense strategy.

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Weapons Crimes And Charges On Long Island

Guns laws in New York have been changing and evolving – and getting harsher – for decades. Anyone selling firearms in New York must obtain special licensing and comply thoroughly with state and federal gun laws. Any failure to comply with any aspect of New York’s gun laws is a serious crime in this state. If you are charged in the New York City area with illegally selling guns or with any violation of New York gun laws, speak at once with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

One of the most serious crimes in the state of New York is the criminal possession of a weapon. Although the law allows for varying “degrees” and punishments, criminally possessing a weapon in New York is generally considered a violent offense requiring a minimum term of incarceration.

Criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is a class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A possession in the third degree is a class D felony and punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Finally, a criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum of one year in jail. Any of these charges could also lead to deportation for any defendant that is not a citizen of the United States.

The possession of an unlicensed firearm is illegal in New York with no exceptions. If you possess a loaded firearm away from your home or business without a permit, you can be charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Even if you have no criminal history, a conviction for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree carries a minimum sentence of three-and-a-half years in state prison.

Taking part in any way in the illegal distribution of firearms is a crime even if you are not in physical possession of a weapon. Whether you are importing, exporting, transporting, packaging, or simply seeking buyers and arranging transactions, you can be convicted of gun trafficking. Specific charges may be more or less severe depending on the type and amount of weapons involved. If modified firearms or automatic weapons are involved, the charges and punishments will be increased. Charges and punishments are also stiffer if the firearms are stolen. In some cases those convicted of trafficking in firearms can face up to 25 years in prison.

Misconceptions About Weapons Charges

Anyone who watches cop shows or detective movies might be familiar with stories of bad guys opting for fake guns in the hopes of avoiding more serious criminal charges if caught committing a crime.  Unfortunately, this idea is largely a legal superstition that has no bearing on New York law.  In New York, the fact that a weapon used in an offense was fake or imaginary is no defense against serious criminal charges.  In most jurisdictions, it is not the legitimacy of the weapon that is important, but the level of fear or apprehension that the supposed weapon creates in the mind of the victim.

Even though most victims of criminal offenses involving weapons will report a feeling of fear, the actual emotion is not required to successfully prosecute a charge for a crime like armed robbery or assault.  “Anticipation” is a better word.  If a person anticipates the threat of death or serious bodily harm, whether or not the source of the anticipation is real or fake, the creator of that anticipation may be criminally liable for assaulting or otherwise committing an armed offense against the victim, just as if the weapon used had been real.

The state of New York punishes crimes that involve weapons, real or fake, with stiff penalties.  If found guilty of a weapons related offense, a suspect could face several years in prison.  This is in addition to the stigma that will be attached by society to anyone accused of a weapons related offense.  Even without evidence or a conviction, simply being accused of a serious crime involving a weapon can have dire consequences on a person’s ability to live a normal life.  It is not uncommon for those accused of serious crimes to feel as if everyone in the whole world, even their friends and family, have turned their backs on them.

Exercise Your Rights

Under the American criminal justice system, suspects have the right to be considered innocent until found guilty.  This means that no matter how serious the charges against a person, the accused has the right to tell his or her side of the story in an unbiased court of law, as well as the right to pose questions to accusers under oath.

Another right which every citizen enjoys, whether accused of a crime or not, is the right to remain silent.  This means that police, investigators or agents can’t force a person to make a statement if the person doesn’t want to.  When a person is accused of a weapons related offense, attorneys recommend that the accused remain silent except to ask for legal counsel, and to find experienced legal counsel as quickly as possible.

Hire A Long Island Weapons Charges Attorney

If you are arrested and charged for any weapons crime in New York, don’t try to act as your own lawyer, exercise politely your right to remain silent, and insist on your right to have an attorney present during any questioning. Then as quickly as possible, retain the counsel of a skilled Long Island criminal defense attorney who can dismantle the prosecution’s case, ensure that any searches were conducted legally, punch holes in the police officers’ stories, determine whether the weapon was operable, and provide evidence and testimony on your behalf.

Being charged with a gun crime does not mean that you will be convicted – a prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you’re accused of violating any New York gun law in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in New York City, fight the charge and put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

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What You Must Not Do

If you are arrested and charged with DWI on Long Island or in New York City, you must discuss your case with an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney as quickly as possible. It’s imperative to fight a DWI charge with the help of an experienced defense lawyer who can aggressively challenge the state’s case against you. While you must retain legal counsel at once, there are also some things you must not do after you’ve been charged with DWI. These include:

  • You must not agree to be interrogated without having an attorney present. Be polite, but insist on your right to remain silent and on your right to legal counsel.
  • You must not plead guilty or accept any plea agreement before consulting an experienced DWI attorney.
  • You must not fail to take a DWI charge seriously. A DWI conviction is punishable with jail, fines, probation, a driver’s license suspension, and other penalties. Take the charge seriously.
  • You must not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney. Do not post even a casual comment about your case on Twitter, Facebook, or comparable forums. That’s precisely where the state will seek incriminating evidence against you.
  • You must not fail to put an experienced Long Island DWI lawyer on the case immediately after a DWI arrest. It’s imperative to begin gathering evidence and questioning witnesses as quickly as possible.

Now that you know what not to do, learn what you should do when you’re stopped by a police officer.

Exercise Your Rights

It’s imperative for every American to know, understand, and exercise our legal rights. Knowing your rights and exercising them properly can directly affect the outcome of any criminal charges filed against you, especially if the police in New York arrest you for DWI. After an arrest, law enforcement officers must read your “Miranda” rights before any questioning is allowed. That is, they must explain your right to remain silent, your right to an attorney, and the state’s obligation to provide an attorney if you cannot afford one. If you’re charged with DWI in New York, don’t accept court-appointed counsel or try to represent yourself. Instead, call an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney and get the effective legal representation you really need.

You have the right to remain silent if you’re arrested for DWI. Be polite. Give the officer your name, address, date of birth, driver’s license, registration, and social security number. These are “routine” inquiries that are not considered formal interrogation. But you should avoid answering any other questions, providing information or evidence, making any statements, or signing any forms until you have the advice of an experienced DWI defense attorney. We all want to explain ourselves and be understood, but in this situation, let your attorney do the talking. Be polite but firm when you request an attorney. If your Miranda rights are violated, it could – possibly – result in the DWI charge against you being dropped.

When the police arrest you for DWI, they are not your friends. It’s in their interest to compile sufficient evidence against you to win a conviction. If you are charged with DWI on Long Island or anywhere in the five boroughs, speak at once with an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney. DWI is treated as a serious charge in New York, and you’ll need a good DWI attorney to fight for justice on your behalf.

Avoid DUI Charges

You can take some practical steps to protect yourself and your friends and acquaintances from driving while intoxicated. Whenever you host a gathering where people will be drinking, remind them to arrange in advance for a sober driver. Be sure to provide soft drinks or juices and water, and make certain that your guests all leave safely. Don’t hesitate to take someone’s keys if you need to – that person will probably thank you the next day. If you, your friends, or any of your family members are arrested for DWI on Long Island or in New York City, arrange at once to speak with an experienced Long Island DWI attorney.

If you’re going to be away from home for a night out or for a specific event, New York and Long Island probably have more public transportation available than any other location in the world. Buses, subways, taxis, limo companies, and ride-sharing services are everywhere, and most can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Riding a bicycle is not a good option. Although there’s no specific law in New York against “bicycling under the influence,” it’s quite dangerous, and you could still be charged with a misdemeanor such as public intoxication or reckless endangerment.

There are also steps you can take to avoid getting pulled over for suspicion of a DWI. Police officers are more likely to pull you over if your lights don’t work, you toss cigarette butts out the window, you have a license plate violation, or you have dark tint film on your car windows. To avoid trouble, make sure that everything on your car is in order so police officers do not pay more attention to you. Once a police officer pulls you over, they could suspect that you have been drinking and driving and ask you to step out of the car for a field sobriety test. Not only is this embarrassing, but it could lead to serious criminal charges.

Everyone who drives while intoxicated is taking an unnecessary and dangerous risk. Any time you get behind the wheel after drinking, you could be arrested, injured, injure others, or worse. If you are arrested for DWI on Long Island or in New York City, retain legal representation as soon as possible. A good DWI lawyer will safeguard your legal rights, explain the legal process as it unfolds, will advocate vigorously for justice on your behalf and may offer New York based resources or other programs to help overcome life events. If you face a DWI charge in Long Island or anywhere in New York City, today or in the future, consult at once with an experienced Long Island DWI attorney.

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DWI And The Holidays

The leaves are falling and the holidays are approaching, so New York drivers can expect the enforcement of DWI laws to become more aggressive, as it always does this time of year. If you are charged with DUI in Queens or in any of the five boroughs over the holiday season, don’t expect the courts to be filled with the holiday spirit. They won’t be. Expect no leniency. You’re going to need legal help just like any other time of the year. After a DWI arrest, immediately arrange to consult with an experienced Long Island DWI attorney who can fight aggressively to protect your rights and interests.

Here’s what you must know about DUI in New York this season:

  • Understand that a designated driver is someone you are trusting with your life. Make sure it’s the right person. Limos, taxis, and buses are available all over Queens, and many operate 24/7/365. Also check out the ride-sharing services and apps such as Uber and Lyft.
  • Bicycling might not be a good alternative. Bicycling while intoxicated is not specifically against the law in New York, but it’s never a good idea, it’s dangerous, and you could still be arrested for public intoxication or public endangerment.

A driving while intoxicated charge is not an automatic DWI conviction, but you will require the counsel of an experienced DUI lawyer who will challenge the state’s case against you and fight vigorously for justice on your behalf. During the holiday season and every season, if you are arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated in Queens or anywhere in the New York City area, act promptly. Make the call at once to speak with an experienced Queens DUI attorney.

Regardless of how well or poorly you may be driving, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.08 percent. Don’t think that if you have only one drink every hour, you can legally drive. You can’t. Frankly, you probably shouldn’t drive until the next day after anything more than a 12-ounce beer or 6-ounce glass of wine. Even one beer or one glass of wine can put you over the limit if you weigh a hundred pounds or less. Of course, the wisest approach is no drinking whatsoever if you’re going to drive, and calling a cab or having a designated driver if you’re going to drink.

If you are charged with DUI anywhere in the state of New York, it’s imperative to speak with an experienced DWI attorney as quickly as you can. Your attorney may dispute the arresting officer’s testimony, the DWI test results, or the legality of your traffic stop and arrest. Being charged with DUI doesn’t mean that you’ll be convicted and sentenced, but it does mean that you need to retain the advice and services of an experienced DUI defense attorney. If you face a DWI charge in the state of New York over the holidays or in the new year, speak at once with an experienced Queens DWI lawyer.

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Challenge That Ticket!

Adhering to the speed limit reduces your risk of being involved in a traffic accident, and in the state of New York, it can also help you to avoid considerable legal trouble. If you are cited for speeding in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in New York City, fight the ticket and the charge with the counsel of an experienced Long Island traffic ticket attorney. In New York, you can actually do a few days in jail for a speeding conviction, and if you receive subsequent speeding citations, your driver’s license could be suspended.

Don’t just pay a speeding fine without fighting the charge. Paying the ticket without fighting the charge is an admission of guilt that puts points on your driver’s license and increases your insurance rates. A speeding conviction can even disqualify you for some types of employment.

The laws against speeding are enforced every day by every local police agency in the state. Obviously, not everyone who’s speeding is stopped and cited, but if you drive more than ten miles per hour over the speed limit, a ticket is a genuine probability. The penalties for a speeding conviction in New York are:

  • up to 30 days in jail and a $360-to-$600 fine for driving more than 30 mph over the limit
  • up to 30 days and a $180-to-$300 fine for driving 10 to 30 mph over the limit
  • up to 15 days and a $90-to-$150 fine for driving up to 10 mph over the limit
  • up to 15 days and a $45-to-$150 fine for “excessive and inappropriate” speed

But there’s more to speeding ticket penalties than just a fine. Drivers also earn points on their driving record with every traffic offense.

New York Points System

In New York, the driving game is a lot like golf – the guy with the highest score walks away a loser.  In New York, “walks away” is right, because the guy with the highest score usually loses driving privileges.  The New York Department of Motor Vehicles is the state agency responsible for keeping track of driving points.  When a New York driver is cited for a point worthy offense, a copy of the ticket is forwarded to the New York DMV and annotated.

In order to help keep the streets safe from unsafe drivers, the state of New York, like many other states, uses a point system to track unsafe driving behavior.  When a person is given a ticket or convicted of a more serious vehicle related offense, points are attached to that person’s driving record.  The more points that are accumulated in a certain amount of time, the New York DMV can suspend (a temporary sanction) or revoke (a permanent sanction) a driver’s license.  For example, attaining 11 points within 18 months will trigger a suspension or revocation.  Whether or not the license is suspended or revoked will depend on the severity of the offenses.

Speeding one to 10 miles over the speed limit will get three points, 11 to 20 miles over is four points, 21 to 30 over is six points, 31 to 40 over is eight points, over 40 is 11 points.

With all that a person may stand to lose without the ability to drive, responding to allegations of repeated speeding violations is a delicate process.  Maybe a driver just paid a ticket out of frustration, not wanting to fight the ticket in court, even though there was a valid reason or defense for the speeding.  Now, the lack of effort to fight past violations has caught up with the driver, and the DMV has implemented a suspension or revocation.  As one could imagine, this can throw a person’s entire life for a loop.

How to Avoid Speeding Tickets

It’s a scientific fact. More speeding tickets are handed out in the summer than in the winter. In fact, speeding tickets peak every July and hit their low every December. There’s even a Google graph to prove it, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. With the kids out of school, great weather, and infinite opportunities for recreation and fun, summer creates the perfect environment for enjoying those long drives and maybe pressing the pedal a bit too far. If you receive a speeding ticket on Long Island or anywhere in the New York City area, don’t just pay the fine. It goes on your driving record, becomes a “prior offense,” and it can boost your insurance costs. Instead, challenge a speeding ticket with help from an experienced Long Island speeding ticket attorney.

Of course, the best strategy this summer is to avoid getting a speeding ticket altogether. Before you roll out on the road this season, consider some ways to avoid getting stopped:

  • Watch out for cameras. You can get caught speeding by a camera without any police activity whatsoever. Camera systems can record your speed, snap a photo of your license plate, and have a speeding ticket mailed to you.
  • Watch out for typical speed traps. Police tend to set up traps where speeders can’t see them until it’s too late: behind signs, around curves, and at the bottom of hills and off-ramps.
  • Don’t attract attention. Avoid arousing suspicion by swerving wildly, flashing your lights, revving your engine, changing lanes too much, or even playing music too loud.

A number of electronic devices are also available ranging from radar detectors to police scanner apps. Some are legal in some jurisdictions, but if you’re going to invest in such a device, make sure you fully understand the law governing its use wherever you use it.

The only certain way to avoid a speeding ticket is simple – don’t speed. Speeding laws aren’t always strictly enforced, but anything over the limit gives police the right to stop and ticket you.

If you do receive a speeding ticket, now or in the future, get legal help right away from an experienced Long Island speeding ticket attorney.

Long Island and New York City drivers should never simply plead guilty and pay the fine. Always fight a speeding ticket. On Long Island and in New York City, if you are cited for speeding or for any traffic violation, obtain the legal help you need and speak at once to an experienced Long Island traffic ticket attorney.

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Probable Cause And DWI Checkpoints

Although the courts in twelve states do not allow police agencies to conduct sobriety checkpoints, sobriety checkpoints are legal here in New York. The police officers at sobriety checkpoints conduct “random” traffic stops to determine if drivers are too intoxicated to drive. If you are stopped by police officers at a New York DWI checkpoint, and if you are then arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, you are in grave legal trouble. You’ll need to retain as quickly as possible the advice and services of an experienced Long Island DWI attorney.

Since the police need “probable cause” to stop you, how can DWI checkpoints be legal? The U.S. Supreme Court has for all practical purposes created a loophole and made an exception for sobriety checkpoints, reasoning that the state’s obligation to protect the public outweighs the imposition upon drivers and the limited violation of their privacy rights. Still, the police must follow strict guidelines while conducting a sobriety checkpoint. The times and locations of checkpoints must be made available to the public in advance, and signs must be posted informing drivers that they are approaching a DWI checkpoint. Weekends and holidays are typically when the police conduct sobriety checkpoint operations.

In New York, a conviction for driving while intoxicated can lead to some harsh penalties that follow you for the rest of your life, and if you’re charged with DWI, you’ll need to contact an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney immediately. In New York, the legal blood alcohol content level (BAC level) for drivers is 0.08 percent. Plenty of New Yorkers can drive safely at that exceptionally low level of intoxication, but some drivers can’t. If you are able to drive safely with a BAC level of 0.08 percent, it’s just too bad. Everyone has to comply with the same law.

Even if you’ve had “just one” in New York and you’re under the legal limit for DWI, you could still be charged with DWAI (driving while ability impaired). DWAI is a traffic infraction rather than a misdemeanor or a felony, but if you’re charged and convicted, you could still face some very disagreeable consequences. You can be charged with DWAI if your BAC level measures between 0.05 percent and 0.07 percent and you are unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. A conviction for DWAI could send you to jail for 15 days and cost you up to $500.

If you are stopped and arrested for driving while intoxicated at a DWI checkpoint, politely exercise your right to remain silent, and then obtain legal help as quickly as you can. An experienced DWI lawyer can gather evidence and question witnesses while looking for the flaws and mistakes in the prosecutor’s case against you. Don’t wait to retain legal counsel. If you are charged with DWI in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in New York City, now or in the future, at a sobriety checkpoint or in any other situation, fight the charge and take your case immediately to an experienced Long Island DWI defense lawyer.

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What You Must Know When The Police Stop You

At some point in life, almost every driver is going to be stopped by the police. The overwhelming majority of those stops are for genuinely minor reasons: reasons like failing to use your turn signal, a burnt-out brake light, or an expired license plate. However, if the police have any reason to suspect that you might be guilty of something more than a traffic infraction, that simple traffic stop can rapidly escalate into something much more serious. If you are suspected of a crime under these circumstances, it’s imperative to know and exercise your legal rights. And if you’re arrested for any reason after being pulled over by the police, contact our experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyers as quickly as possible.

When Can the Police Search You?

When are the police legally allowed to search your car? Police searches of automobiles are always a controversial legal issue. Driving is regulated by law and takes place in public, so a car has less legal protection from police searches than a home does. Constitutionally and legally, precisely where is the line? In most cases, police officers really don’t need a warrant to search your vehicle. If you are charged with a crime in or near New York City after a search of your car, truck, or van, get help immediately and call an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. 

Vehicle searches by the police are strictly governed. If the police stop you and believe that you are armed, you can be asked to step from the vehicle and you can be searched. The courts allow police officers to ensure their own safety. If illegal drugs or other contraband are discovered during this kind of a pat-down, the items can be confiscated, you can be charged, and your rights have not been violated.

Your vehicle itself can be searched if the police believe that they are in danger. If they have “reasonable cause” to believe that your vehicle contains evidence relating to a crime, they may also search your vehicle without a warrant. A “hunch” isn’t enough, but your answers to an officer’s questions could (plausibly) provide probable cause, so it’s wise to exercise your right to remain silent. Probable cause can also come from 911 calls, informants, or police observations of the vehicle. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court now allows the police to stop anyone solely on the basis of an anonymous, unconfirmed tip.

The police also have the right to search impounded vehicles.

If you are arrested and charged with a crime on the basis of a traffic stop and vehicle search, one possible defense is that the “reasonable cause” was not at all reasonable. You’ll need an attorney who routinely handles criminal cases involving traffic stops.

If you are asked to consent to a search of your vehicle, politely refuse. Always be as friendly and cooperative as possible with the police while vigilantly guarding and exercising your rights. If you give your permission, the results of the search will be admissible in court, even if there’s no initial probable cause for a search. Of course, if you are stopped for a routine traffic offense and an officer sees evidence (such as firearms, drugs, or open alcohol containers) in plain sight, you and your car can be legally, thoroughly searched on the spot.

If you are arrested on the basis of a vehicle search and seizure, discuss your case with a good criminal defense lawyer and get sound legal advice. A good defense attorney can provide an aggressive defense and fight vigorously for justice on your behalf. If you are arrested on Long Island or in New York City after a vehicle search and seizure, retain the counsel of an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

The criminal justice system isn’t what you see on television. Not all cops are virtuous, not all lawyers are glamorous, and certainly, most suspects are neither evil nor insane. In fact, if you’ve been arrested for a crime on Long Island or in New York City, you’re probably a very normal and regular person who has been either falsely accused, or else you just made a bad decision. Either way, the police can arrest you in New York if they have probable cause to believe that you are committing or have recently committed a crime, and they can also take you into custody with a properly executed arrest warrant. After you have been arrested, the police must read your Miranda rights if they seek to interrogate you. Your Miranda rights are:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you if you desire.

If you choose to answer any questions – something most defense attorneys strongly advise against – you still may stop the questioning at any time. Be courteous and polite, but simply say “I choose to exercise my right to remain silent” or “I prefer not to answer questions unless my attorney is present.”

If you are merely being interrogated and have not been arrested, the police are not obligated to read your Miranda rights, but what you say can still be used, so you should still exercise your right to remain silent. If you’re charged with any misdemeanor or felony in the Long Island or New York City area, obtain the legal counsel you need and contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Hire A Long Island Criminal Defense Attorney

Obviously, every case is different. When you’re pulled over by the police, be cooperative and friendly, but politely insist on your right to remain silent if an officer begins asking questions. If the police ask for permission to search your vehicle, politely decline. If you’re charged with a crime on Long Island or in New York City on the basis of evidence discovered during a traffic stop, discuss your case, your rights, and your options as quickly as possible with an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.

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A Dangerous Combination

If you’re driving while intoxicated in New York, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or taking prescription drugs. The consequences are the same if you’re convicted, and those consequences can be quite harsh. If you’re charged with driving while intoxicated on Long Island or anywhere in New York City, it’s imperative to contact an experienced Long Island drug defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

Marijuana and DWI

While a growing number of states are liberalizing their marijuana laws, concern is also growing across the nation about drivers who mix marijuana and alcohol. Some new research findings from Europe are causing even more apprehensions.

There is simply no question or debate – smoking pot and drinking alcohol together does far more damage to your driving ability than simply consuming either substance exclusively. That’s what researchers in the Netherlands at Maastricht University found when they tested a number of volunteers. When alcohol is combined with marijuana, and even when a driver’s blood alcohol content level is measurably under the legal limit, driving ability is substantially impaired, and a driver’s driving behavior resembles the driving pattern of someone significantly over the legal limit. Combining even small quantities of the two drugs together essentially destroys your ability to drive a vehicle safely.

Prescriptions and DWI

In the state of New York, if you are arrested and accused of driving while intoxicated, immediately take your case to an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney. Understand, however, that a second DWI conviction within ten years of the first is a Class E felony in New York, and if you are convicted, the penalties will a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 and ten days in jail or sixty hours of community service. If you’ve been convicted of DWI more than four or five times, you may be struggling with a dependency issue, and you should probably seek some counseling. Almost anyone can avoid DWI troubles by quitting alcohol. Drivers who don’t drink alcohol do not get charged with DWI – usually.

However, if you are using pharmaceuticals prescribed by your doctor, DWI can get complicated. You can’t just “quit” your prescription medication like you can quit drinking. Your medicine is keeping you healthy, but you probably should not drive while you’re talking it. Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines can impair your ability to drive. Driving while taking these medications could get you charged with DWI. You could be responsible for a collision, serious injuries, and even fatalities.

If your physician has prescribed medications for you or prescribes them in the future, ask the doctor to describe how the drugs will affect you. Always heed the warning labels that accompany medications. If you are accused of a prescription drug-related DWI in the state of New York, it’s like every other DWI charge. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to consult an attorney before answering any questions. If you’re charged with DWI on Long Island or in any of the five boroughs, obtain legal help at once. Let an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney represent you and fight on your behalf. After any New York DWI arrest, make the call immediately.

What To Do If You’re Stopped for DWI

If you are pulled over by law enforcement officers on Long Island or in New York City because you are suspected of DWI, remain silent and do not consent to a search of your vehicle. You are not ever to feel forced to consent to an unwarranted search, but if a cop has a search warrant, you have to allow the search. If the cops want to do a warrantless search, you need to insist on a warrant, but remain polite at all times when communicating with the police officer. A cop has no right to detain you unless the officer has a reason to suspect that you committed a crime (or a traffic violation). If you are in doubt, simply ask the officer if you are free to go.

If you are arrested for marijuana-DWI, you’ll need an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney who can represent you aggressively while advocating for the best possible result. Even in first-offense, marijuana-DWI cases, New York courts are seldom lenient. Don’t plead guilty – fight the charge. If you face a DWI charge for any reason in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in New York City, contact an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney immediately.

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There’s Probably A Law About That

If you grew up in the United States, you probably heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” a thousand times or more. It’s an old legal principle that has worked well for centuries. Since ancient times, every adult of sound mind has known that murder, assault, rape, and robbery are crimes, and until the modern era, those were very nearly the only crimes. What a different world the 21st century is. Almost anyone can accidentally break the law without even being aware of it. Hundreds of tax laws, traffic laws, financial laws, environmental laws, computer laws, and housing and employment discrimination laws – laws that didn’t exist a century ago – govern large parts of our lives. The truth today is that in some cases, ignorance of the law may actually be a legitimate excuse.

Some legal thinkers, pointing to thousands of obscure laws and regulations that impact every area of life, are rightly saying that no one can be realistically expected to know so many laws – not even lawyers, who are becoming increasingly specialized. However, ignorance of the law isn’t an accepted legal defense just yet, so if you’re charged with a crime in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in the state of New York, you’ll need to obtain high-quality legal representation immediately. Speak right away with an experienced Queens criminal defense lawyer. When you face criminal charges, obtaining the counsel of a trustworthy, experienced defense attorney is always the smartest decision.

Society stills expects everyone to know that murder, assault, rape, and robbery are serious crimes. But the hundreds of other newer laws and regulations aren’t merely trivial rules. They exist for a reason, and violating those laws will usually result in criminal charges.

The court does not accept that you did not know you were violating a law as a defense. It also does not care whether you committed the crime while you were under the influence of alcohol. In the state of New York, intoxication is not allowed as a defense to any sort of criminal charge. However, since a jury must determine if you acted with criminal intent, jurors may consider whether alcohol (or some other intoxicant) impaired your ability to form a criminal intent. You can not win by claiming, “I did it because I was drunk,” and the fact that you may not remember the incident is, legally speaking, largely immaterial. What your defense attorney must prove is that you had no ability to form a criminal intention. Every case is different, and every juror is different. What you need is a defense lawyer who will examine every detail of the alleged crime, present the most effective defense, and bring your criminal case to its best possible conclusion.

If you’re accused of a crime on Long Island or in New York City – whether or not you are guilty or knew it was a crime – get the legal help you’re going to need and immediately contact an experienced Queens criminal defense lawyer.

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Don’t Plead Guilty To DWI

A conviction in New York for driving while intoxicated can dramatically change your life. Do not take a DWI accusation lightly, but don’t just plead guilty and pay the fine either. That might seem like the fastest and easiest way to deal with the matter and move ahead with your life – but it’s not. If you’re charged with DWI in Queens, fight the charge with the help of an experienced Queens DWI defense lawyer. Pleading guilty is not the “fast and easy” way to deal with a DWI charge. If you do plead guilty, you’ll also learn that “moving ahead” isn’t that easy after a DWI conviction.

If you plead guilty to a first-offense DWI in Queens or in New York City, the punishment can include a fine from $500 to $1,000, up to a year in jail, and a six-month driver’s license suspension. If it’s a second offense, you could serve up to four years in prison, pay a $1,000-to-$5,000 fine, and lose your license for a year. After a second conviction, you’ll also be ordered by the court to have an interlock ignition device installed in your vehicle, and you’ll pay for its installation and maintenance.

In order to avoid being charged and convicted of a DUI, it’s important that drivers know about other factors that can cause you to become under the influence. One of those factors is pure vanilla extract. Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water. In the U.S., for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the Food and Drug Administration requires the solution to contain a minimum of 35 percent alcohol. Carolyn Kesel, 46, of Seneca Falls was charged with felony DWI and felony aggravated DWI after allegedly drinking two small bottles of pure vanilla extract and then becoming lost in a Walmart parking lot. Police said her blood alcohol content level was more than three times the legal limit.

According to authorities, Ms. Kesel was discovered driving erratically at the Walmart, and she told the police that she could not find her way out of the parking lot. The vanilla extract she allegedly consumed had an alcohol content of 41 percent. A breathalyzer measured Ms. Kesel’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level at 0.26 percent, more than triple the legal limit, resulting in the felony charges. If Ms. Kesel had known about the dangerous effects of this extract, perhaps this could have been avoided.

If you’re accused of driving under the influence anywhere in the Queens area, you should know that working with a good DWI defense attorney is the best way to handle the charge. The right lawyer will safeguard your legal rights, explain the law and the options it gives you, and lead you through the legal process to the best possible conclusion of your DWI case. If you’re charged with DWI now or in the future, take the first step toward justice and contact an experienced Queens DWI lawyer immediately.

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