Up In Other Cities, Homicides In New York May Drop To Record Low

Crimes rates – and particularly homicide rates – appear to be rising in other big U.S. cities in 2016, but the homicide rate in New York City this year could set a record – a record low, that is. Serious crimes in almost all categories are declining across the five boroughs, and the number of serious crimes in the city could drop below 100,000 for the year – an important benchmark for law enforcement authorities.

According to Newsday, there were 285 homicides in New York City this year through October 30, compared to 300 homicides at the same time last year. The record homicide low for New York City in the modern era (that is, the “era” of CompStat, the crime-tracking system that the NYPD has been using since 1994) was 333 in 2014. The record high homicide figure in New York City history was 2,245 in 1989.


The number of serious crimes has never dropped below 100,000 in New York City in the CompStat era. As of October 30, however, the number of serious crimes in the city in 2016 stood at 84,064. (In 1993, the city recorded a record high 430,460 serious felonies.) There were 242,470 arrests in New York City in the first nine months of 2016, a drop of 7.4 percent from 2015 and the lowest level recorded in the CompStat era. Misdemeanor arrests declined by 6.7 percent and violation arrests were down by 55 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Mayor de Blasio told the Huffington Post that the lower crime statistics in the five boroughs are linked to an increased focus by the New York Police Department on getting guns off the streets. The NYPD seized over 800 guns in just the first three months of this year, more than a 15 percent increase in weapons seizures over the first quarter of 2015. Firearms-related arrests in the city are also up by about 13 percent this year. Since the start of 2014, New York City has seen a total decrease of more than five percent in crime incidents across all major crime categories combined, the mayor said.

Mayor de Blasio added that the dropping crime rate is “an extraordinary testament to the consistency of the progress that the NYPD has made. I remember vividly what things were like in this city when we had over 2,000 murders a year, when even walking down a busy street you had to look over your shoulder. I remember how life was, how many people left because they thought this city couldn’t possibly succeed. Well, the NYPD turned that around.”


NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told Newsday, “if the trend continues, we very well may be in for a record year.” Richard Aborn, speaking for the Citizens Crime Commission, said the crime trends in New York City so far in 2016 were “remarkable.” Aborn attributed the declining crime levels to the New York Police Department’s “precision policing” approach, which concentrates resources and manpower on finding “bad actors and getting them off the street.”


Whether it’s precision policing or something else entirely, what’s clear is that the NYPD is apparently doing something right that is not being done in other cities. People are being shot in Chicago, for example, in disturbingly high numbers: 3,500 shootings were reported in Chicago through mid-October, a thousand more than at the same time last year. It took only until the end of Labor Day weekend for Chicago to have more homicides this year than it did in all of 2015. Chicago’s homicide total has surpassed 600 for the first time since 2003, with two months remaining in 2016.

This year, Chicago could see the city’s highest homicide toll in nearly two decades. Yet, on a per capita basis, Chicago’s gun violence epidemic is not nearly as severe as the violence in many other large U.S. cities. Chicago’s homicide rate over the last five years was 16.4 per 100,000 residents. In New Orleans and St. Louis, for example, the homicide rate from 2010 to 2015 was three times that high on average. And in Las Vegas, at the end of September, there had been 125 homicides – a 27 percent increase over the same period in 2015.


The national murder rate had declined sharply for two decades until 2015, when the murder rate across the U.S. jumped nearly 11 percent – the largest single year increase in nearly half-a-century. Data published in September by the New York Times confirms that murder rates rose substantially in 25 of the largest cities in the United States in 2015, and it’s expected to keep climbing. The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law predicts an increase in the national murder rate of 13.1 percent this year over 2015, and an increase of 31.5 percent over 2014.


While news about the murder rate nationally is disheartening, the declining murder rate in New York City is great news for the city’s residents and visitors. Still, more than 240,000 arrests were made in the five boroughs in the first nine months of 2016, and every one of those suspects will need the services of an experienced New York or Long Island criminal defense attorney. If you’re accused of a crime in New York, don’t try to act as your own attorney. The law is too complicated, too much is at stake, and although crime rates are declining, the penalties for a conviction in this state can still be quite harsh.


Crime figures are like ink-blot “Rorschach” tests – people see what they want to see in crime statistics, and no two people see precisely the same thing. A New York or Long Island criminal defense attorney would probably say that there is simply no single explanation for the reduction in crime locally in New York City or the rising crime rate nationally. No matter how closely you examine the figures, no single pattern or answer emerges, and there’s always another factor to consider. For now, with crime continuing to decline in New York City, it is probably best for the NYPD simply to keep doing whatever it is they’re doing.

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Homicide Rate Up In 25 Major Cities

According to research published on September 9 by the New York Times, murder rates rose substantially in 25 of the largest cities in the United States in 2015. That research confirms the findings recently published by the National Institute of Justice – a white paper authored by University of Missouri-St. Louis criminology professor Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, who concluded, “The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,” in 2015.


The statistics published by the New York Times tell us that Chicago led the nation’s cities with 488 homicides in 2015. In New York City, with three times Chicago’s population, there were 352 homicides in 2015. Anyone charged with a homicide or a gun crime in or near New York City or Long Island will need to speak promptly with a Long Island criminal defense attorney. St. Louis had highest homicide rate of any city in the U.S. – 59 homicides per 100,000 residents – and Baltimore had the largest increase in homicides, with 133 more in 2015 than in 2014.

In the 100 largest U.S. cities in 2015, nearly 6,700 homicides were reported, about 950 more than the previous year, but about half of those additional homicides were in just seven cities – all of them cities with a poverty rate higher than the national average: Cleveland, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Nashville, and Washington. Three of those cities – Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland – were also the sites of protests after the controversial police-involved deaths of black males in those cities.


In the National Institute of Justice white paper, titled “Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions,” Dr. Rosenfeld says that although a rising murder rate might be linked to less aggressive policing as a response to protests against police departments, this hypothesis – the so-called Ferguson effect – is overly simplistic, and it needs much more study and critical evaluation.


In fact, researchers cannot agree about what is causing the increase in homicides, and with unique circumstances in each of the 25 major cities, the fact is that there are likely a number of causes contributing to the rising homicide rate. “Cities are obviously heterogeneous,” according to Dr. Robert Sampson, a Harvard professor and crime expert. “There is tremendous variation across the largest cities in basic features such as demographic composition, the concentration of poverty, and segregation that relate to city-level differences in rates of violence.”


The homicides in Chicago, for example, were concentrated in predominantly segregated neighborhoods. One-fifth of the Chicago homicides took place in just two police districts that are among the city’s poorest. Dr. Sampson told the New York Times, “Flare-ups and spikes in violence are occurring in predictable places. The cynicism and mistrust of legal institutions in poor black communities is longstanding, although recent conflicts with the police have exacerbated underlying tensions.”

While murder rates have plummeted in New York City and in Los Angeles, a rising level of violence is “normal” today in a number of Chicago neighborhoods. Through the end of August 31, Chicago’s murder rate this year alone is up 45 percent. August was the deadliest month in Chicago in nearly 20 years, with 90 murders – more than New York City and Los Angeles combined.

As of September 11, a total of 3,028 persons have been shot in the city of Chicago in 2016, surpassing last year’s total of 2,980 with almost four months remaining in the year. Chicago has also surpassed 500 homicides this year after totaling 491 for all of 2015. In some Chicago communities, only about 20 percent of the murder cases result in a suspect being identified or arrested. The police are not trusted, many residents are uncooperative, and dangerous criminals stay on the streets.


Dr. Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor, told the New York Times that Chicago’s crime problems have been exacerbated by the 2013 closings of dozens of Chicago’s public schools, the substantial changes in the public housing system, and the successful prosecution of several gang leaders, which brought disorder to the gangs’ chains of command, markets, and territories. Dr. Futterman heads up a civil rights and police accountability project at the University of Chicago Law School.


The murder rate in 2015 increased more in Baltimore than in any other large U.S. city. Baltimore in 2015 also set a historic high of 55 homicides per 100,000 residents. Some experts say the sudden rise in violence is tied to the large quantity of pharmaceutical drugs looted from pharmacies in Baltimore’s 2015 riots. The death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody, sparked the city’s worst riots in 47 years. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that nearly 315,000 doses of drugs were stolen from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics.


Police officials in Baltimore believe that an oversupply of pharmaceutical drugs on the street sparked a war for customers among the city’s street gangs. University of Baltimore criminologist Dr. Jeffrey Ian Ross said, “This would have caused a disruption in drug markets, with more people trying to maintain or increase their market share. You have new entrants coming into the field, altering the supply and demand of illegal drugs in those neighborhoods.”

If Dr. Ross is right, the homicide rate in Baltimore should drop in 2016. In fact, a survey conducted by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association showed that the homicide rate in Baltimore was slowly declining by mid-2016. Dr. Ross added, “I’m not going to say they’re going to return to historic lows, but we hit a peak last year and things are settling themselves out.”

While homicides in and around New York City seem to be declining – at the moment – if you are charged with a homicide anywhere in the state of New York, do not answer any questions before speaking with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. Never try to act as your own lawyer, especially if the charge is homicide, because nothing is more serious. Most observers believe that homicide rates in the nation’s largest cities will return to “normal” levels by the end of 2016. Let’s hope they’re right.

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Homicide Charges In New York

Generally speaking, a homicide charge is the most serious criminal charge a person can face. Even if a defendant is ultimately exonerated, just facing a homicide charge can be traumatic and life-changing. Homicide cases are almost always complex and multifaceted, so if you ever face the charge, it’s imperative that you have the very best, experienced criminal defense attorney at your side – someone who will both protect your rights and put forth the best possible defense on your behalf.

In New York, homicide includes premeditated murder, murder for hire, multiple homicides, negligent homicide, vehicular homicide, and aggravated manslaughter. A murder conviction in New York carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Manslaughter carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years, and a vehicular homicide conviction can lead to 15 years behind bars.

If you are charged with any of these crimes, your life and your future will literally be at risk. You’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney who has successfully handled similar cases, someone who can both give your case the attention it needs and who can mount a successful defense leading to reduced charges, dismissal, or acquittal.

You Might Be Liable For a Death, But Not Guilty of Murder

Just because a person was killed as the result of something that another person did or allowed to be done, it does not always mean that the person should be prosecuted criminally. Terrible accidents sometimes happen and people are sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A major element of the crime of murder in New York is the element of intent. For those unfamiliar with the law, an element is an essential aspect of an offense that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to justify a conviction. If a prosecutor fails to prove even a single element of an offense, then the defendant may not be convicted. Therefore, if a prosecutor fails to show that a murder suspect intended to cause the death of another, then the charge of murder cannot be substantiated, and the defendant would have to be acquitted. This is good social policy because the courts do not wish to punish those who commit bonafide accidents to be punished with the severity that our society punishes cold-blooded murderers and serial killers with.

If a New York citizen was a substantial factor in causing the death of another but the death was caused without the intent to cause death, then the person may not be charged with murder, but may still be found liable for causing the death in civil court. In civil court, the most major consequence of being found to have caused a death is a monetary judgment against the accused (and the person is considered liable for the death) – in New York criminal court, however, the most major consequence of being found guilty of murder is confinement (and the person is considered guilty of murder). While a person might be liable for a death, that person may not be guilty of murder, and anyone accused of murder should let an experienced murder defense attorney handle their case.

If a person negligently causes another’s death, the person may be charged with criminal negligence, which is negligence beyond that which is needed to prove liability in civil court. This is not as severe a charge as murder, but it can still carry with it severe legal consequences. Anyone who is charged with criminal offenses in New York simply can’t afford not to partner with an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent them against the charges filed. In many instances, individuals who are unable to totally defeat charges may still be able to substantially reduce criminal consequences by working with an attorney. This is because an attorney’s analysis of the law and the facts of a case will help the attorney craft a strong and competent defense on behalf of the accused.

Self Defense

In New York, if you’re charged with a homicide, a claim that you acted in self-defense is often the best way to appeal to a jury. After all, acting in self-defense is something we all understand. New York allows self-defense as a legitimate legal defense when you acted to prevent imminent injury to yourself or another. When your legal defense is self-defense, you aren’t disputing that you committed the act; instead, you’re claiming that you were justified. If you are charged with homicide in or near New York City, obtain legal help immediately and call an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

In order to claim self-defense in a homicide case, your attorney will have to make a case for self-defense and present evidence. The prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense, but your attorney merely has to prove that you “probably” acted in self-defense. In other words, your attorney only has to create enough reasonable doubt to prevent a jury from convicting you.

In some situations, however, you cannot plead self-defense. For example, if you start a fight with someone, and then fear for your life and act in self-defense, you claim won’t hold up in court; you started it. And if you’re mugged, you’re allowed to resist, but you can’t kill a mugger just to prevent a purse-snatching. And don’t even think about using self-defense as a legal defense if the homicide victim was an on-duty police officer.

Hire A Long Island Homicide Attorney

If you are currently the target of a homicide investigation, or if you’re already charged with a homicide, make sure your attorney is present before answering any questions from the police or participating in a police lineup. Detectives use many strategies; you really must have your attorney with you any time they speak to you. Don’t try to act as your own lawyer – nothing is more serious in New York courts than a homicide charge. A good criminal defense attorney will protect your legal rights, provide the sound advice you need, and bring your homicide case to its best possible conclusion.

Nothing is more serious than a homicide charge. If you ever face a homicide charge, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at once. A good criminal defense lawyer will work for you on every front: negotiating with the prosecutor, filing motions to dismiss or suppress, compiling evidence, and lining up your witnesses. An experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and give you the critical advice you’ll need at a most difficult time in your life. Don’t hesitate to hire a good criminal defense lawyer and follow your lawyer’s advice.

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