Criminal Law

What To Do When You Have A Warrant From Another State

In the state of New York, what should you do if you learn that another state has issued a warrant for your arrest?

Can you be arrested in one state on the basis of a warrant that has been issued another state?

Keep reading, and you’ll learn what your legal rights and options are in the state of New York if you are named in another state’s arrest warrant.

Of course. we’ve all heard about arrests warrants from television shows and the movies, and even the phrase “arrest warrant” brings to mind heavily-armed and helmeted police officers breaking through doors, waving weapons, and screaming orders at criminal suspects.

The reality of executing arrest warrants, however, is almost always considerably less dramatic.


Generally speaking, for an arrest warrant to be issued, it means that someone has missed a court appearance or is being charged with committing a crime.

When an arrest warrant is issued, it is entered into national law enforcement databases, and the suspect named in the warrant may be arrested anywhere in the United States.

However, the reality is that most persons who are taken into police custody on the basis of an out-of-state arrest warrant are arrested during traffic stops – when the police officer who made the stop “runs” the motorist’s driver’s license – or in some other mundane, non-dramatic incident.

Breaking down doors happens a lot on television crime shows, but it is genuinely rare in real life.


Will you be arrested in New York if another state has issued an arrest warrant with your name on it?

Like so many questions about criminal law, the answer is, “It depends on the circumstances and details.”

How an out-of-state warrant is handled depends on the nature of the criminal charges and the amount of effort and resources the warrant-issuing state is willing to put into the case.

Under federal law, a valid arrest warrant issued by any state can be executed in any other state, but that does not automatically mean that every person named in an arrest warrant will be hunted down, taken into custody, and extradited back to the warrant-issuing state to stand trial.

What happens depends on a variety of factors. If you were arrested in Georgia, a Georgia criminal defense attorney can help.


The only court that can try a defendant for a criminal charge is a court in the criminal jurisdiction – that is, in the state – where the crime was allegedly committed.

Thus, if you are arrested in New York for a crime that you allegedly committed in New Jersey or California, you will have to be returned there – what the law calls “extradited” – to be placed on trial.

The Extradition Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires a state, upon the demand from another state, to deliver a fugitive suspected of committing a “treason, felony or other crime” to the state where the crime was allegedly committed.

To fulfill this constitutional obligation, almost all of the states, including New York, and with the exception of only Missouri and South Carolina, adhere to extradition guidelines set forth by the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA).

The UCEA sanctions the arrest of a fugitive who is accused of committing a crime by another state if the crime is punishable upon conviction by at least one year in jail.

For serious crimes, extradition is common and routine.

If you are arrested in New York for a crime committed in another state, or vice-versa, should you fight extradition?


Whether or not to fight extradition depends on the nature of the charge and whether or not you gain an advantage by waiving extradition.

In the Long Island/New York City area, seek the advice of an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney regarding any out-of-state warrant or extradition hearing.

Extradition can be a complicated, confusing legal topic, so you must have an experienced defense attorney’s insights and advice.

Let’s say the charges filed against you in another are misdemeanors.

In some cases, waiving your right to fight extradition can be used as a bargaining chip when negotiating with the prosecutor in the warrant-issuing state to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.

Your cooperation in such a case will probably taken into account.

In other cases, your attorney may advise you to request an extradition hearing and fight extradition.

Every case, every arrest warrant, and every extradition situation is unique, so you must have the advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you sign any document or even speak to prosecutors or the police.

If you are arrested on an out-of-state arrest warrant, exercise – politely – your right to remain silent until you can consult with your attorney.


International extradition is rare. Generally speaking, under U.S. law, extradition may be granted only to nations that have an extradition treaty with the United States.

All extradition treaties agreed to by the United States require a foreign nation’s request for extradition to be submitted through diplomatic channels, usually through the that nation’s embassy in Washington and then to the U.S. State Department.

If a foreign nation’s request for extradition is in order, an attorney in the State Department will prepare a certificate confirming the existence of an extradition treaty and confirming that the crime or crimes are extraditable.

That certificate and the original extradition request are then forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The request can then be forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Attorney, who at that point will obtain a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.


If New York or any other state wants to prosecute a criminal suspect who has been located in a foreign country, that state must funnel its extradition request through the federal government, which will negotiate the extradition with the foreign country.

However, most states, in most cases, will not go to the effort of extraditing a suspect from a foreign country except for the most serious crimes.

If an arrest warrant in New York or anywhere else has your name on it, an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney can review the warrant and the other details of your case and help you fight extradition – if fighting extradition is the best strategy in your own situation.

Anyone named in any arrest warrant is going to need sound and trustworthy legal advice as quickly as possible.

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An Overview Of New York’s Restitution Laws

If you are the victim of a crime on Long Island or anywhere in the state of New York, and you suffer losses because of that incident – losses that you can document – you may qualify to receive restitution from the offender who committed the crime. Sooner or later, as you probably know, almost everyone in New York becomes victimized by some type of crime, so keep reading to learn more about restitution and your rights when you become a crime victim.

You’ll also learn exactly who qualifies to receive restitution payments, how to acquire those payments, and precisely what generates a restitution payment order from a court. This is a brief introduction to restitution, but if you are charged with a crime and you may be ordered to pay it, you’ll need to discuss the details of your specific case with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

“Restitution” is defined as the payment made by a convicted criminal offender to a crime victim to pay for the victim’s losses due to the crime. Every state has established a procedure for crime victims to request and receive restitution payments. Legally speaking, however, restitution is not quite the same thing as “compensation.”


“Compensation” pays for someone’s financial losses after an incident like a car crash or a dog bite, but the person who pays compensation did not necessarily commit a crime, profit from a crime, or intentionally cause damages. Restitution, by contrast, is a repayment of the gains acquired in a crime or a payment for the damages – such as medical expenses – that are the result of a crime.

And legally speaking again, restitution is not a “fine.” Fines are preset amounts specified by New York state law and paid directly to the court as a criminal penalty, while restitution is paid to a crime’s victim or victims in an amount that will be different in every case. If you are convicted of a crime in New York, and the crime’s victim suffered financial losses that are provable, you will almost certainly be ordered by the court to pay restitution.

Here is how the restitution process works in the state of New York. When a criminal charge is filed, a prosecutor will obtain information regarding the crime from the victim, including information regarding damages – especially the damages that can be proven. When a final restitution amount is determined, and if the defendant is convicted, a restitution payment is typically ordered by the court as a condition of probation.


However, judges must consider a convicted offender’s ability to pay, and in some cases, victims will not always receive the full amount of restitution that they are actually owed. If you are owed restitution, do not expect to receive it quickly, either. Payment delays are common and happen for a number of reasons.

Most payments are made over time, and a great deal hinges on the convicted offender’s financial situation, employment status, and a number of other factors.

Listed here are some of the items that judges in New York must take into account before issuing a restitution payment order:

– the details of the crime, the charge, and the conviction
– the defendant’s dependents, if any, and his or her other financial obligations
– the defendant’s education, current economic status, and physical and mental health
– the defendant’s current employment or unemployment

What if the defendant believes that the restitution amount that he or she is ordered to pay is inaccurate or unfair? If there’s a dispute regarding the amount that should – or can – be paid, the court will schedule a hearing to resolve the dispute. When a restitution order is for less than the full amount requested, the payment is called a “reparation.” The court may also order restitution to be paid in a lump sum or in series of payments over time.

Who makes certain that probationers in New York make restitution payments as ordered? That responsibility falls to the probation officer. The willful refusal to make court-ordered restitution payments is prosecutable in New York as a violation of probation or VOP, and a VOP conviction could mean stricter terms of probation or even time in jail or prison.


If you are wondering exactly how to collect restitution if you become a crime victim in New York, here’s how. When you are contacted by a prosecutor, ask the prosecutor to request restitution for your losses. Keep receipts and all other records of the costs that were a direct consequence of the crime, make copies, and give the copies to the police, the prosecutor, and the Department of Probation.

As a crime victim, your claim for restitution will be included in any report the prosecutor or the Department of Probation prepares for the judge. If restitution is ordered, the payments a crime victim receives will come from the Department of Correctional Services or the local Department of Probation.

In New York, restitution payments may reimburse crime victims for:

– medical costs including out-of-pocket expenses for doctors, therapy, ambulance fees, other transportation costs, and related expenses such as counseling
– lost wages or other lost income
– repair or replacement costs for stolen or damaged property
– funeral costs if appropriate
– insurance deductibles
– related costs for items like towing fees, new locks, and child care costs that may be required for doctor or hospital visits or legal hearings


If you are charged with a crime in New York and a crime victim – or more than one – was injured, if property was damaged or destroyed, or if the charge is something like theft, fraud, robbery, burglary, or embezzlement, a request for restitution will almost certainly be made, and if you are convicted of that crime, the payment of restitution will almost certainly be ordered. You must have effective and experienced legal help.

On Long Island or in New York City, if you are the person facing a criminal charge, put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. If you are innocent of the crime, if your rights have been violated, or if the amount of restitution requested is a fabricated or exaggerated figure, you cannot take any chances – you must have an experienced New York defense attorney working for you.

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Decades-Old Convictions Can Now Be Sealed In The State Of New York

Across the United States, over seventy million people have a criminal history with at least one conviction. A single criminal conviction makes those individuals subject to a number of state and federal regulations and laws that limit their rights – their voting, housing, and employment rights, and their right to bear arms. Some criminal convictions also impact the convicted person’s driving privilege. Many of the rules regarding prior convictions are sensible – keeping convicted child molesters away from minors, for example – but some of the regulations are entirely unrelated to a convicted offender’s original crime and conviction.

Many of the rules regarding prior convictions are sensible – keeping convicted child molesters away from minors, for example – but some of the regulations are entirely unrelated to a convicted offender’s original crime and conviction.

If you are being routinely rejected by employers – or even by landlords – an old conviction on your criminal record may be the reason why. Beginning on October 7th, a new law in the state of New York will allow many New Yorkers to have their criminal records permanently sealed from the general public – from landlords, employers, and anyone else who is privately investigating an individual’s background.

Who will qualify to have their criminal convictions sealed? Under the new law, you will be eligible to seal up to two convictions – but only one felony conviction – provided that the convictions are at least ten years old and that you have been in no additional legal trouble since that time.

However, persons who were convicted of a sex crime or a violent felony will not qualify to have those convictions sealed. Prosecutors will be allowed to challenge requests to have convictions sealed; they’ll have 45 days after a sealing request is made to notify the court of an intention to challenge the request.


If a conviction that you need to seal is on your record, you’ll need to submit a request to the court where the criminal charge was originally filed and prosecuted. The details of the case, the conviction, and the sentence must be provided to the court along with the request for sealing. If the court agrees to a request to have a conviction sealed, the court’s decision will be entered into the state’s permanent records. The most immediate benefit of sealing a conviction is that conviction’s removal from employment background checks.

However, if a prosecutor challenges your request to seal, you may need an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney to help you prove that your conviction should be sealed. The determination regarding whether or not to seal a particular conviction is ultimately up to the sentencing judge, who can – at his or her discretion – order a hearing to consider the individual’s character and any other relevant factors.


District attorneys and their staffs in both Brooklyn and Manhattan will be sorting through what they expect will be an avalanche of requests to have convictions sealed. Spokespersons for both offices insist that they are generally supportive of the new law. A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told the New York Daily News that prosecutors in Manhattan do “not anticipate having to challenge the sealings, except on rare occasions.” Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told the newspaper, “An old conviction for a minor or a nonviolent offense should not hold people back from moving on with their lives.”

A number of defense attorneys on Long Island and in New York City are already receiving inquiries from New Yorkers who are seeking to have old convictions sealed. One criminal defense attorney in Manhattan told the Daily News, “You’re talking about anybody who was convicted over ten years ago of an eligible offense. That could potentially be tens of thousands of cases.”

Melissa Ader, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s employment law unit, told the newspaper that the new law will help New Yorkers have “a fair chance at finding a job.” Employers in this state are already prohibited from using criminal convictions as a reason for rejecting a job applicant, but according to Ms. Ader, the illegal practice nevertheless is common. Sealing convictions, however, will prevent noncompliant employers from even knowing that the convictions ever happened. “Really the best way for a New Yorker to have a fair chance at finding a job is for an employer to not know about that conviction,” Ms. Ader explained.


Those who are requesting to have a conviction sealed should understand that “sealing” a conviction is not the same thing as “expunging” a conviction. The expungement of a criminal conviction forever erases any trace of that conviction. “Sealing” a criminal record hides that record from the public but continues to allow law enforcement officials to see the information – in extremely narrow circumstances – as specified by New York law. Who can see a sealed criminal conviction in the state of New York?

– the defendant or the defendant’s designated agent
– law enforcement agencies acting within the scope of their enforcement duties
– state or local gun licensing agencies
– employers of prospective law enforcement officers
– the FBI, when conducting background checks for gun purchase applications

If the conviction that you want to have sealed in the state of New York is only eight or nine years behind you, don’t assume that you won’t be able to do anything to help yourself for another year or two. Sealing a conviction is a complicated legal procedure, so it makes sense to start preparing a sealing request – and to start compiling the information and documents that must accompany a sealing request – at least a year or more in advance. An experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney can help.

Sealing a conviction is not automatic, and the decision is ultimately made by the sentencing judge. Thus, if you are waiting for the ten-year time period to elapse, it makes sense to do the things that prove you have been rehabilitated and that you are now a productive member of the community.

Volunteer with a charity or some other community organization. Advance your education or seek additional job training. Stay out of serious debt, stay away from illegal drugs, and don’t get into additional trouble with the law.

Thousands of convicted offenders in the state of New York are being given a unique opportunity to seal their old criminal convictions and to move on positively and constructively with their lives. If you are one of those New Yorkers, do what it takes to have your convictions sealed, and contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney for the legal help and advice that you’ll need.

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Suffolk County’s Judicial Diversion Program

Most states have acknowledged that first-time offenders charged with committing minor crimes may not be best served by the regular judicial process of a plea and a sentence or trial. Counseling can often help and can often deter first offenders from committing a second offense. Defendants struggling with substance abuse issues can get the help they need when they participate in a judicial diversion program.

Suffolk County’s Judicial Diversion Program (JDP) offers some criminal defendants in Suffolk County an opportunity to move forward positively and constructively with their lives, free from alcohol and drugs. The Suffolk County JDP is a program for offenders who are facing non-violent felony charges and who also abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Instead of jail or probation, the JDP puts offenders in a drug or alcohol treatment program.

The Suffolk County Judicial Diversion Program is a collaboration between the Suffolk County Probation Department and County Court personnel to provide community supervision, substance abuse treatment, and case management to drug dependent felony offenders who have pleaded guilty to a non-violent felony charge. The program includes regular court appearances and supervision by a judge, as outlined below.


Precisely who qualifies for the Suffolk County JDP? Non-violent, drug dependent offenders charged with felony drug sales or possession – or other addiction-driven felonies – qualify. The defendants must plead guilty and agree to a contract with the court which spells out the orders of the court and the outcomes for completing the program successfully or for failure to complete the JDP successfully. An individual with a record of violent crimes, a severe or persistent mental illness, or a medical condition which would interfere with Judicial Diversion Program’s requirements will not be eligible.

If you are charged with a felony in Suffolk County, and if you believe that you are not guilty of the charge, an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney can fight to have the charge against you dismissed or advocate at a trial for your acquittal. However, if the evidence against you is persuasive, and if you need professional help with a drug or alcohol dependency, it’s possible that the Suffolk County Judicial Diversion Program may actually be just right for you. Consult with your attorney before you make any decision that will affect your freedom and future.

If you are eligible for the Suffolk County JDP, after your arraignment on the felony charge, you may choose the Judicial Diversion Program as an alternative to the regular court process. A Case Manager will then work with you to develop a personalized counseling and treatment plan. While you are in counseling and treatment in the JDP, a judge will closely monitor your progress.


The Suffolk County JDP includes four phases, and participants must successfully complete each phase before moving to the next phase. Phase One of the Suffolk County JDP lasts for at least two months. This phase focuses on the offender’s choice of a drug-free life and helps an offender establish freedom from drugs and alcohol by developing appropriate life skills and coping skills.

Phase One includes:

– the start of treatment and attendance at all treatment and counseling sessions
– a weekly report, by telephone, to the participant’s case manager
– no drug or alcohol use and random, supervised drug and alcohol screenings
– attendance at all required drug court sessions
– unannounced home visits by the Suffolk County Department of Probation
– two consecutive months drug and alcohol-free to advance to Phase Two

Phase Two of the Suffolk County JDP lasts for at least four months. In this phase, the participant stabilizes his or her participation in the program, works out strategies for living without alcohol and drugs, and focuses on developing realistic educational and/or employment goals.

Phase Two includes:

– mandatory attendance at all treatment and counseling sessions
– weekly reports, by telephone, to the participant’s case manager
– continuing abstinence from drug or alcohol use
– random, supervised drug and alcohol screenings
– attendance at all required drug court sessions
– unannounced home visits by the Suffolk County Department of Probation
– start or apply for a job skills training program or an educational program
– four consecutive months drug and alcohol-free to advance to Phase Three

Phase Three of the Suffolk County JDP lasts for at least six months. In Phase Three, the participant moves toward independence, reconnects with his or her family and community, and begins planning to complete the JDP and fulfill the final program requirements.

Phase Three of the program includes:

– attendance at all required treatment sessions
– a focus on relapse prevention and development of a relapse prevention strategy
– weekly reports, by telephone, to the participant’s case manager
– continuing abstinence from drug or alcohol use
– random, supervised drug and alcohol screenings
– unannounced home visits by the Suffolk County Department of Probation
– development of a continuing care plan and a community re-integration strategy
– start a job or an education or vocational program with a goal of self-sufficiency
– six consecutive months drug and alcohol-free to advance to Phase Four

Phase Four of the Suffolk County JDP also lasts for at least six months. Phase Four prepares the participant for release from the program and reentry into the community as a sober, productive, law-abiding individual. Phase Four focuses on the requirements for graduation from the JDP program. Attendance at treatment sessions is still required in Phase Four, along with the weekly telephone reports. Unannounced home visits and random screenings may continue. Near the end of the JDP, a participant must submit a written graduation application that spells out his or her accomplishments in the program and goals for the future.


The court responds to violations of the program’s terms and conditions with a system of incremental or “graduated” sanctions. Violations are classified on the basis of their severity as “A” level infractions (serious infractions like flight from the program or a new arrest on a new charge) or as “B” level infractions (such as substituting or tampering with a urine sample). The number and severity of a participant’s violations determine the court’s response.

If you are charged with a non-violent, drug or alcohol-related felony in Suffolk County, and if you are dealing with a chemical dependency or addiction, the Suffolk County Judicial Diversion Program may be your chance to get the help you need. After an arrest for any criminal charge, anywhere on Long Island or in the New York City area, speak with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney about your options. Sometimes an arrest isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Sometimes, for those who are willing, an arrest can be a positive turning point in someone’s life.

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Did A White-Collar Crime Create Long Island’s Real Estate Bust?

Bank fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, and a number of other financial crimes are usually considered “white-collar” crimes. White-collar crimes can be trivial offenses or quite serious matters, but convictions for the most egregious white-collar crimes are punishable by decades-long sentences in federal prison. In some cases, an offender’s property can also be seized by the government to pay back the crime victims for their losses.

White-collar crimes are not violent, but that doesn’t mean there are no victims. White-collar crimes can cause victims to lose their homes or their savings, can keep a family from being able to send a child to college, and can even make it difficult for victims to pay their medical bills. White-collar crime costs the United States more than $300 billion a year, and the actions of white-collar criminals sometimes hurt all of us.

In March, for example, 51-year-old Aaron Wider was sentenced by a federal court in Central Islip to twelve-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a plan to swindle banks by obtaining mortgages fraudulently. In a four-week trial in 2016, federal prosecutors charged that Wider’s scheme inflated property values across Long Island, contributing to the real estate market’s eventual bust and Long Island’s plethora of “zombie” homes. These are homes that residents abandon – usually after receiving a foreclosure notice – which then deteriorate and languish, sometimes for months, until the foreclosure is complete.


From 2003 to 2008, Aaron Wider headed the HTFC Corporation mortgage bank located in Garden City. While HTFC was a residential mortgage originator, it did not fund the mortgages itself and instead relied on “warehouse” lenders for mortgage funds.

Wider was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for defrauding those warehouse lenders out of more than $30 million in mortgage proceeds. U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt also ordered Wider to serve five years on supervised release and to pay $22 million in restitution to victims, although Judge Spatt acknowledged that Wider currently has no financial resources.

The federal Bank Fraud Statute of 1984 spells out what constitutes bank fraud: check kiting and forging, unauthorized use of automated teller machines (ATMs), credit card fraud, non-disclosure on loan applications, and diversion of funds. Bribery, money laundering, and passing bad checks may also constitute bank fraud. Because banks are federally insured, bank fraud is a federal offense.

Wider could have been sentenced to thirty years in federal prison – the maximum sentence for bank fraud. That’s what Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell asked for, saying that Wider’s conduct was “brazen” and adding that, “Long Island became the epicenter of zombie houses because of people like Aaron Wider.” Wider and his attorney made no comment beyond saying that Wider intends to appeal the conviction.

After Wider had been sentenced, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Bridget Rohde said, “Aaron Wider perpetrated a massive mortgage fraud scheme, the effects of which are still felt to this day by financial institutions and homeowners. Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who manipulate and abuse the lending process will be held accountable.”


At Wider’s trial, the government presented evidence that Wider and his associates purchased Long Island houses and then used inflated assessments to sell the homes to an associate at the inflated prices. They then used the inflated prices to obtain falsely overvalued mortgages and pocketed the difference between the real and inflated prices, according to prosecutors.

Here’s an example: One associate of Wider purchased a property in Massapequa in 2007 for $450,000, transferred it to a trust and resold it the same day for $800,000. All of the properties ended up in foreclosure, leaving investors and banks on the hook after the real estate crash of 2008.

Essentially, white-collar crimes are violations of trust. The most frequent kinds of fraud in the state of New York include mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, real estate fraud, and healthcare fraud. Insurance fraud and identity theft are also on the increase.

In a white-collar case, a good defense attorney works first to have the charge reduced or dismissed; sometimes, a charge can be dismissed based on an out-of-court settlement with the alleged victim. In other circumstances, the best conclusion may be a reduced sentence after payment of restitution.


On Long Island or anywhere else in the state of New York, if you are suspected of a white-collar crime and you are under investigation by state and/or federal authorities, if you believe that you are under investigation, or if you’ve been arrested and charged with a white-collar crime, you must retain the services of an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

Sometimes a white-collar crime investigation can take months, but if you are the subject, you don’t have to endure that kind of apprehension alone. Let a Long Island criminal defense attorney help.

The punishment for a white-collar crime conviction can include imprisonment, fines, restitution, community service, probation, and “alternative” sentencing such as electronic monitoring. Penalties became harsher after the Enron scandal, when Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, defining new white-collar crimes and increasing the penalties for mail fraud and wire fraud.

The consequences of a conviction for a white-collar crime extend beyond the penalties imposed by the criminal court. A criminal conviction for a white-collar crime is typically followed by a civil lawsuit when the victim or victims act to recoup their losses.

A criminal conviction for a white-collar crime can also lead to the seizure of bank accounts and even the forfeiture of the offender’s home. Those who hold a professional license will probably see it revoked after a conviction for a white-collar crime.

If you are charged with a white-collar crime, it does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. The government must prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – that you intentionally engaged in criminal behavior.

You may have worked for an employer who used you to take money unwittingly from a client’s account, and you had no hint that the employer was acting illegally. And sometimes, what looks like fraud is really – when it’s all sorted out – just a colossal misunderstanding.

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Are Minorities More Likely To Be Wrongfully Convicted Of Crimes?

The National Registry of Exonerations was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides details regarding exonerations in the U.S. – cases where a wrongly convicted person was later cleared of all charges on the basis of new evidence. In March of this year, the Registry released a study of nearly 2,000 exonerations since 1989.

The Registry found that black defendants who are convicted of violent crimes are far more likely than white defendants to be later exonerated. The exonerated black inmates also had a substantially longer average wait for exoneration than their white counterparts. University of Michigan law professor Samuel R. Gross, who is a co-author of the Registry’s report, said, “It’s no surprise that in this area, as in almost any other that has to do with criminal justice in the United States, race is the big factor.”

Blacks comprise nearly half – 47 percent – of the approximately 2,000 people exonerated since 1989. The crimes most frequently exonerated are murders, sexual assaults, and drug crimes. That’s not particularly newsworthy. What’s important is what the Registry’s data tells us about the factors that drive racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system and how that disproportionality can be reduced in the future.


Black defendants receive forty percent of the murder convictions in the United States, but fifty percent of the persons exonerated for murder are also black. Only 36 percent of those exonerated for murders are whites. Black inmates who were wrongfully convicted of murder spent, on average, three more years in prison than exonerated whites and Hispanics, according to the Registry. “The causes we have identified run from inevitable consequences of patterns in crime and punishment to deliberate acts of racism,” according to Professor Gross and the report’s co-authors, Maurice Possley and Klara Stephens.

Racial bias and police misconduct such as hiding evidence both play a role in the racial disproportionality. While only about 15 percent of the murders committed by black people target white victims, 31 percent of the blacks who are eventually exonerated of murder were initially convicted of killing white victims. The report’s authors determined that police misconduct was a factor in 76 percent of the cases in which black murder defendants were eventually exonerated but in only 63 percent of the cases in which white defendants were wrongly convicted of murder.

Previous research tells us that white Americans are more likely to misidentify black people for one another than to misidentify other white people, and that factor may play a role in the wrongful convictions of black defendants. The Registry’s researchers found that eyewitness mistakes were made in 79 percent of the sexual assault cases where black defendants were wrongly convicted but in only 51 percent of the cases where white defendants were eventually exonerated.

The number of exonerations for wrongful convictions is and has been rising for three decades. In a second report issued later in March, the Registry said that a record 166 exonerations were reported in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in 2016. Of those, 54 exonerations were for homicides, 24 were for sexual assaults, and 15 were for other violent crimes.

The Registry said that 70 or more of those exonerations involved police misconduct. In 2016, 74 exonerations were for convictions based on guilty pleas, more than any previous year. The majority of these 74 exonerations – 57 of them – were for drug crime convictions, but six were homicide exonerations, and four of those six were cases that involved false confessions. “There are probably more exonerations that we don’t know about,” Professor Gross admitted.


One positive trend cited by the researchers is the expansion of Conviction Integrity Units (or “CIUs”) across the country. A Conviction Integrity Unit is a division of a prosecutor’s office that strives to avoid, identify, and set right any false convictions. In 2016, 29 CIUs had been established across the United States, more than twice as many as in 2013 and almost five times as many as in 2011.

Conviction Integrity Units have helped to secure 225 exonerations since 2003, although more than 80 percent of those exonerations have happened only since 2014. The nation’s most active Conviction Integrity Unit is in Houston, where 76 people were exonerated from 2010 through 2015. Texas had more exonerations – 58 – than any other state in 2016. Illinois was second with 16, and New York was third with 14.

The National Registry of Exonerations says that 2016 was a record year for exonerations in several respects. A record number of exonerations in 2016 involved guilty pleas, police misconduct, and the work of Conviction Integrity Units. Additionally, a record number of exonerations happened in 2016 for those falsely convicted of crimes that never actually happened at all.

In our own state, the New York State Justice Task Force reviews potential exoneration cases and examines the various causes of wrongful convictions in New York. The Justice Task Force works to identify the practices and patterns that contribute to wrongful convictions in this state and to craft and implement the reforms that are needed to reduce the number of wrongful convictions.


No promises or guarantees can ever be made or offered regarding the outcome of any single criminal case. Nevertheless, if you are charged with a crime on Long Island, in New York City, or anywhere in the state, the best strategy for avoiding a wrongful conviction is to seek the counsel of an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. After any arrest, always politely exercise your right to remain silent and politely insist on your right to have a lawyer present during any interrogation.

While the best strategy for any criminal defendant in New York is to work alongside a Long Island criminal defense attorney, wrongful convictions are still far too common in New York and everywhere else in the U.S. Police officers make mistakes and sometimes intentionally bend the rules. Many crimes aren’t properly investigated, evidence is often contaminated or simply lost, and the wrong people too often end up in custody. The sad reality is that today in the U.S., too many innocent people are behind bars for a crime that they did not commit, and there’s no way to know how many.

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Long Island Police Battle Heroin And Methamphetamine Crimes

Atlantic City police reported six deadly heroin overdoses in the last week of January, and police in Nassau County have now warned Long Island residents about “bad” heroin that may have found its way from Atlantic City to Long Island. Small bags of heroin made from folded wax paper and stamped with the words “King of Death” were found at the scene of two of the Atlantic City overdose fatalities. Police in Nassau County also announced that law enforcement officers are keeping tabs on what they are calling a “drug outbreak” in Atlantic City, and they are asking residents to call 911 if they have useful information about heroin use or distribution.

Also, in what authorities have called a real-life version of the television show Breaking Bad, a lawyer who works for the Internal Revenue Service was arrested on February 1st in Washington, D.C., and accused by federal prosecutors of conspiracy to sell methamphetamine on Long Island. Attorney Jack Vitayanon, 41, is also an adjunct professor of tax law at Georgetown University Law School and is a former law clerk for a Florida federal judge.

Vitayanon allegedly “supplemented his income by selling distribution quantities of methamphetamine,” according to Robert Capers, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. In response to the arrest of Vitayanon, the Internal Revenue Service issued a statement that said in part: “We cannot comment on specific personnel matters…. The IRS strongly emphasizes that it will take any and all actions against inappropriate employee conduct, up to and‎ including dismissal.”

Federal prosecutors are alleging that Vitayanon conspired to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine on Long Island. According to court records, federal agents have discovered video of Vitayanon “smoking what appeared to be methamphetamine from a glass pipe.” Vitayanon’s alleged methamphetamine dealing came to the attention of authorities in December when law enforcement officers on Long Island seized a Federal Express delivery with 460 grams of the drug as it was delivered to a home in Oceanside.


Whether or not Vitayanon is eventually convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, it is important to know that incarceration is a likely penalty for anyone who is convicted of manufacturing, distributing, selling, or possessing either heroin or methamphetamine in the state of New York. It’s imperative for anyone who is charged with a drug crime in New York City or on Long Island to be represented by an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer. Since the days when Nelson Rockefeller was the governor of this state, New York has been famous – some would say infamous – for being tough on illegal drugs and drug dealers.

For example, back in 2007, the New York State Legislature outlawed the operation of facilities used to manufacture drugs like methamphetamine. Anyone who possesses or supplies drug ingredients or cooperates with an illegal drug lab can be charged with Unlawful Clandestine Drug Operation in the Second Degree, a Class C felony. The first-degree charge, a Class B felony, is filed if a suspect has previous criminal convictions, if juveniles are involved in the operation, if the lab is near a school, or if “booby-traps” have been set to surround the lab.

Heroin use has now reached its highest level in twenty years in the United States, according to a 2016 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The report states that there were about a million heroin users in the United States in 2014, almost three times as many users as in 2003. Heroin-related fatalities across the nation increased five-fold from the year 2000 through 2014. In 2016, President Obama responded by asking Congress to approve an additional $1.1 billion to address the epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse.


“There have been a lot of theories about why heroin use is going up,” according to Scott Krakower, an assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens. Krakower explained to CBS News, “The biggest theory is that the crackdown on prescription drugs, like Vicodin and OxyContin, were being overprescribed and as prescribers slowed down the prescriptions of these drugs, heroin use went up.” In his work, Krakower sees the effects of heroin abuse. “Heroin is a dangerous, powerful opioid. It leads to pretty quick highs. It can easily suppress breathing. Eventually you can die from it.”

In 2015, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas responded to the rising heroin epidemic by recommending legislation that would allow New York prosecutors to charge a heroin dealer with a homicide if one of that dealer’s customers dies from a fatal overdose. New York is tough on drug crimes, but in most cases, drug dealers in New York still cannot be prosecuted for a customer’s death.

A lengthy prison term, however, is very often the penalty for a felony drug conviction in New York, so anyone who is charged with a drug crime should be defended by an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer. Drug charges frequently follow lengthy criminal investigations that can involve the use of wiretaps and/or search warrants, so challenging the legality and constitutionality of the investigation and the arrest will often be a defense attorney’s first move on a defendant’s behalf.


Operating a drug laboratory that produces a substance like methamphetamine inevitably requires the work of more than one person. Unsurprisingly, criminal investigations of drug lab operations usually result in a number of arrests and multiple criminal charges that include conspiracy charges. Anyone who is involved with or even acquainted with those who operate a drug laboratory could be mistakenly arrested and charged when the police move in on the lab.

New York is not the only location where heroin is re-emerging as a serious crime and a public health concern. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that internationally, 17.4 million people used heroin, opium, or morphine in 2014. Around the world as well as in New York, lawmakers and policy-makers are continuing to seek innovative and effective ways to protect the public and deal with the problem of narcotics and other dangerous drugs. Defense attorneys in New York remain dedicated to protecting the rights of suspects and achieving the best possible results for clients who face drug charges.

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In This Digital Age, Could Technology Testify Against You?

High-tech refrigerators, toasters, and washing machines may soon be among the tools that detectives will use to solve crimes, according to London’s Daily Telegraph. They’ll be connected to the “Internet of Things.” According to Wikipedia, the Internet of Things is the internet-based networking of vehicles, buildings, appliances, even light poles, and other physical items laden with electronics, sensors, software, cameras, and connectivity that enables these items to gather and exchange information.

In other words, we are connecting almost everything to the internet so that almost everything can gather data and be remote-controlled. In the immediate future, the Internet of Things could provide important clues for investigators working homicides and other crimes. “All these leave a log and a trace of activity. The crime scene of tomorrow is going to be the Internet of Things,” according to Mark Stokes, speaking for London’s Metropolitan Police. Already, detectives on both sides of the Atlantic are currently being trained to look for gadgets that could provide a ‘digital footprint’ of victims, suspects, and persons of interest.

Doorbells are already commercially available that show you – in real time, on your smartphone – who’s knocking at your door. Wireless cameras in refrigerators and washing machines can record movements and the time of those movements. The new Samsung Family Hub Fridge, for example, even includes a camera that provides a live feed of the refrigerator’s contents, so shoppers can see what they need while they’re at the supermarket.


Login times and dates will be able to provide alibis and to verify someone’s presence at a specific place and time. Mark Stokes predicts that detectives in the future will carry a digital forensics kit that will let them analyze microchips and download data immediately rather than having to confiscate items and take them to a police lab. However, law enforcement agencies that gather evidence from the Internet of Things will also likely face considerable legal opposition from electronics manufacturers worried about the privacy concerns of consumers.

That’s already happening in Bentonville, Arkansas, where police investigators are trying to obtain evidence regarding the 2015 murder of Victor Collins. When investigators learned that their main suspect in the Collins murder – a man named James Andrew Bates – owned an Amazon “Echo,” they quickly focused on determining if the device had recorded anything that might advance their investigation. Bentonville authorities obtained a warrant telling Amazon to produce any recordings it has from Bates’ Echo device.

According to court documents, James Andrew Bates is suspected of murdering Victor Collins in November 2015. The two had been drinking with two other friends at Bates’ home. One of the friends left, the other apparently fell asleep, and the next day Collins was found dead in the home’s hot tub, according to court records. The coroner ruled that strangulation was the cause of death. Bates has been charged with murder. As 2017 begins, Amazon is refusing to provide any data to Bentonville authorities or even to confirm if it has any information.

Kimberly Weber, an attorney for James Andrew Bates, argues that there is a “big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us,” and Amazon has issued a statement that reads: “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

However, Amazon’s Echo was not the only device that James Andrew Bates had connected to the Internet of Things. According to court records, his electronic water meter recorded that 140 gallons of water were used the night that Victor Collins died – all between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. – possibly, police believe, to clean and wash away blood and evidence from the patio surrounding the hot tub.


The Amazon Echo is an always-on “digital assistant” that supports Amazon’s voice-recognition program, Alexa. Amazon says the Echo and the smaller Echo Dot exceeded sales expectations in 2016 with nine times as many sales as in 2015. Without providing precise numbers, the company says that “millions of new customers will be introduced to Alexa” as a result of holiday-season sales in 2016.

Lynn Terwoerds is the founder of the Voice Privacy Industry Group and is also an executive director of the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security and Risk Management. She told USA Today, “The myth we must fight against with Echo is that it’s constantly listening in on you – it’s not. I understand that law enforcement would have an interest in any information that could help in a murder investigation, but it can be argued that this data would be of very limited use as compared to individual privacy rights.”

Marc Rotenberg is the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center – EPIC – a Washington-based non-profit. Rotenberg insists that “there should be clear legal standards established for law enforcement access. And manufacturers should adopt techniques for data minimization and data deletion. Devices that retain data will be the targets not only of law enforcement officials but also criminal hackers.”


As technology moves forward, privacy is becoming harder to ensure, and the rights of suspects in criminal cases can be endangered. The City of Chicago, for example, is now placing sensors on light poles to monitor, photograph, and listen to what’s happening on the streets – the entire city is being connected to the Internet of Things. Advancing technology is making surveillances, searches, and investigations increasingly complicated. If you are arrested in New York or on Long Island, let an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney review your case to determine if your privacy rights have been violated by the police.

Lawmakers and courts are doing what they can to protect privacy rights, but advances in technology move much faster than courts and legislatures are able to react. As the law struggles to keep up with technology, the rights of the individual can sometimes be overlooked. If you are charged with a crime, or if you simply need more information regarding your own legal rights, let an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney provide the representation or legal advice you need.

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Why Crime Statistics Are So Confusing

You probably already know that Mark Twain spelled out three categories of lies: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Crime statistics often are confusing, misleading, twisted on purpose, and usually incomplete. The numbers that will be coming out in January regarding 2016 crime totals will show a higher murder rate in most big cities. That happens almost every January, but you should probably read the headlines with a healthy dose of skepticism.

For example, in December of 2015, former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly charged that the current commissioner, William Bratton, was undercounting New York City’s gun crime totals by not counting people who were injured by broken glass caused by stray gunfire or those whose attire – but not their physical bodies – are pelted by bullets. Bratton, in response, said that such incidents have been ignored since the department started keeping track of shootings in 1994.

However, Commissioner Bratton added that both of these types of shooting crimes are counted as aggravated assaults in the statistics that were officially reported by the city to the FBI. Right there, federal crime statistics and New York City crime statistics don’t match up. The conflicting statistics make New York City a good example of what crime statistics can tell us – and also what crime statistics can’t tell us.


Compiling and reporting crime statistics is a slow process. The headlines you see in January will be based on each city’s unofficial crime figures. Not all reported crimes, however, get reported to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, the “official” national source for crime statistics, so UCR figures tend to be lower than “actual” crime figures. Furthermore, the FBI will not publish “official” 2016 crime numbers for more than 18,000 local police agencies until the fall of 2017.

Some police departments report “official” crime figures earlier in the year, but every police agency handles the process differently. Some issue a press release in the first week of January, some issue more detailed reports later in the year, and other police departments only release crime statistics on request. Each law enforcement agency handles information requests differently as well. The result: There are lots of “official” crime numbers, and they do not necessarily add up.

New York City, to no one’s surprise, is far from the only city where crime statistics can be confusing. In Oakland and Chicago in 2015, for example, homicides were up but overall crime was down. That’s not uncommon, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which determined that overall crime declined in the largest U.S. cities in 2015 – except in Charlotte and Los Angeles – although the number of homicides increased in large cities. Homicide figures ran counter to overall crime figures in 2014 and 2013 as well.


What does this mean for the average person looking for information about local crime rates? Generally speaking, cities and communities with high homicide numbers also have high rates of violent crime and property crime, but there are plenty of exceptions and nuances that allow politicians and chambers of commerce to spin positive numbers when they need to. When those same politicians and chambers of commerce want more funding for law enforcement, they can spin the data negatively to justify the need for more funds.

Of course, as every New York and Long Island criminal defense attorney knows, a city as large as New York or a setting as diverse as Long Island is going to have low crime in some areas and higher crime in others. On his blog site, statistics professor Ben Wellington ranked 188 New York City neighborhoods for six different kinds of felony crimes based on the first nine months of 2015. Wellington found that a neighborhood’s ranking for homicides usually was a good indicator of the neighborhood’s ranking for assault and battery but seemed entirely unrelated to property crimes like auto theft.

Realistically, however, if you are concerned about becoming a crime victim, who you know may be a far more important factor than where you live. Police spokespersons in cities with rising homicide rates – including Portland, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C. – routinely remind the public that many homicide victims are gang members or people with criminal records and criminal associates.


A further problem with crime statistics is the lack of a genuinely uniform reporting procedure. Often, whether or not a crime is reported or “counted” as a crime is left to the discretion – the subjective judgment call – of the police officer on the scene or that officer’s supervisor. There is no precise, codified definition – used across the board – for terms like “gun crimes” or “crimes of violence.” The FBI publication that tells local law enforcement agencies how to define crimes doesn’t even use the word “shooting,” and most police departments don’t count shooting homicides separately from stabbings, strangulations, and other homicides.

Media coverage is a related issue. Rising crime gets coverage. It brings out politicians seeking votes and community voices seeking action. It sells newspapers, garners ratings, and gets web-surfers to click on news sites. “Crime is up” is a front-page story, but if crime is dropping, it’s a story that’s invariably buried somewhere off the front page. Many police departments have been accused of tweaking their crime statistics, so even the “official” FBI numbers probably need to be questioned.

Unreported crime is another concern. Most people who tell poll and survey takers that they’ve been victims of crime added that they never reported the crime to the police. A theft victim may decide that the time and trouble of reporting the theft simply isn’t worth it. Prostitutes and drug dealers may not want to report some of the crimes committed against them, for obvious reasons. Underreporting of rape and sexual assault continues to be a major concern. Experts also believe that many – if not most – incidents of domestic abuse and domestic violence are never reported.

Another problem with crime statistics is fabricated crime accusations. Of course, anyone accused of a felony or a misdemeanor in the Long Island or New York City area will need the help of an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer. However, anyone trying to learn something useful from the study of crime statistics will probably need more help than even a good criminal defense attorney can provide.

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Infographic – The Current State Of Crime In New York City

Crime in large American cities is staggering.  This is certainly true in New York City. This infographic shows there is a rise in violent crimes such as rape and misdemeanor assault over the past year. However, crimes such as murder, larceny, and burglary show a significant decrease.  Fighting crime in New York City is a huge job, and a job that the authorities take very seriously. If you have been arrested for a crime in New York City, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn your options and protect your rights.

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