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Rochester Criminal Defense Blog

New York's drug possession presumption

We've all heard the phrase "guilty by association." Fortunately, this phrase often doesn't hold much water in the legal world, as prosecutors oftentimes have to prove that the defendant him or herself committed the crime for which he or she has been charged. Yet, when it comes to drug crimes, New York's aggressive laws spell out some situations where an individual may be guilty of a crime even when he or she did nothing wrong.

More specifically, New York's law creates a presumption that all individuals in a vehicle are guilty of possessing a controlled substance if the controlled substance is found in the vehicle. The law does identify some exception. For example, if the controlled substance in question was found on the person of one of the vehicle's occupants, then the vehicle's other passengers are not guilty of possession. Likewise, an individual who has been hired as a driver would not be guilty of possession if a controlled substance was found in the vehicle, so long as he or she was acting legally at the time.

An overview of the point system in New York State

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Traffic violations can result in a variety of penalties, depending on the specifics. In addition, New York State has a point system where each type of traffic offense gets a certain number of points against your driving record.

How points work

New York bicyclists hit, drunk driving allegations levied

Anytime a car accident occurs, the police investigate to determine if any criminal wrongdoing occurred. Those who become the subject of one of those investigations can be in for an uphill battle. Although an individual should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, too many times the court of public opinion issues its ruling first. This can leave criminal defendants struggling to raise reasonable doubt with regard to the criminal charges they are facing.

One New York man may be in for just such a fight after being taken into custody after an accident involving a group of bicyclists. According to reports, the man stopped behind the group of bicyclists at a red light, then accelerated into them, injuring four. One of the injured individuals is still in critical condition. Some witnesses claimed they thought the accident was a terrorist attack, similar to the recent one in Spain. They claim the driver, after knocking over the bicyclists, put the car in reverse and ran over a woman, pinning her under the vehicle.

Aggressively advocating for those facing drug charges

A few weeks ago on the blog we discussed drug diversion programs and how they can pose a legitimate option to those who are facing serious criminal charges. These programs, if successfully completed, may allow an accused individual to avoid the harshest of penalties if they were to otherwise fight the charges and lose. Yet, despite the benefits a drug diversion program can bring to the table, it isn't right for everyone. In many drug cases, diversion programs aren't offered and, even when they are, a criminal defendant may not feel like he or she should have to do anything other than prove their innocence.

Those who find themselves in one of these positions need to carefully consider their other criminal defense options. This may include arguing that the police conducted an illegal search and seizure, drawing witness credibility into question, or offering to give law enforcement information in an exchange for seriously reduced or dismissed charges. To determine which criminal defense option is best for an individual, it may behoove him or her to speak with a skilled criminal defense team, like the one at the Law Office of James L Riotto.

How legitimate are breathalyzer tests?

There can be many parts to a DUI prosecution. First, prosecutors may have to show that the initial stop that led to the arrest was legal. Second, they will likely have to prove that evidence collected by police officers, as well as witness accounts, is enough to demonstrate that the accused individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Although this is a high burden of proof to meet, many individuals who are accused of drunk driving may find themselves facing evidence that seems nearly impossible to overcome. However, even the strongest evidence can have weaknesses that can be successfully attacked to protect a defendant's legal rights.

One area where this strategy can come into play is breathalyzer tests. To those who are not experts in the field, these tests can seem scientific in nature. After all, a machine captures one's breath and analyzes it for alcohol content. If this test were accurate from a scientific standpoint, then their results would be trustworthy and fair. However, studies have shown that these tests can be error-prone.

What you need to know about New York's new sealing law

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For many, a criminal conviction may not carry a lifelong prison sentence, but it can carry a lifelong sentence of lost opportunities, job discrimination and other consequences. Even those who never face another conviction might have to live with punishment for a crime that took place many years ago. This could change, though, with a new law taking effect in October regarding criminal record sealing.

According to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, §160.59 of New York's Criminal Procedure Law will allow for new sealing provisions that make New York one of the most generous states in the country for such. You should know the following facts.

Rochester bus monitor charges after altercation with student

It doesn't take much for an individual to find him or herself at the center of a criminal investigation. In many instances, it only takes the statements of one person. In others, it may be a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes, though, the evidence can seem insurmountable to a criminal defendant. Yet, even in these situations there may be criminal defense options available to him or her.

One Rochester woman will need to carefully consider her legal options after being arrested and charged with two misdemeanors. According to reports, charges of unlawful imprisonment and child welfare endangerment were levied against the woman after an altercation on a school bus. Police claim that the woman, who was working as a bus monitor, was physically aggressive with a student who has Autism. The authorities state that the bus's camera shows the student continuing to touch the monitor's arm, even after being asked to stop. Eventually, the police say, the monitor pushed the student against the bus's window and held him there with his arm pinned behind his back.

Drug charges and drug diversion programs

Although many states are relaxing their laws as they pertain to marijuana possession, the war on drugs wages on. Both state and federal prosecutors still aggressively pursue those who they believe have broken the law, which can leave innocent individuals facing the potential for serious penalties, including extensive prison sentences and financially ruinous fines. However, depending on the facts of the case, certain criminal defense options may be available. Sometimes an individual may be able to suppress evidence and obtain an acquittal, but this isn't always a possibility.

When the evidence against an individual is too damaging to seek a full acquittal, plea bargaining may be necessary to consider. There are many tactics that a defendant can use in this situation, but perhaps one of the best is to try to enter into a drug diversion program.

Criminal charges dismissed after body cam video shown

It may sound surprising, but there are a number of seemingly minor situations that can lead to criminal charges. A traffic stop for a broken taillight, for example, could result in the driver being charged with drunk driving or possession of an illegal substance. Many individuals who find themselves facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Although the prosecution often relies on the testimony of arresting officers, the truth of the matter is that even these individuals may not be as reliable as many think.

To see an example, one need only look at a recent Rochester case where an individual was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The man, who was one of many individuals arrested during a massive outside fight, was taken into custody in a local parking lot after he allegedly fought with police and refused to put his hands behind his back. However, after an additional investigation into the incident, a judge dismissed the charges for lack of a factual basis for the charges.

What are certificates of relief from civil disabilities?

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You should not take criminal charges lightly. Even if you are only charged with a misdemeanor, a conviction could seriously derail your life and goals. If your case has already been closed and you are dealing with the consequences of a conviction, though, there are several options you may consider for restoring your life. Applying for a certificate of relief from civil disabilities is one such opportunity.

The certificate serves some of the same purposes achievable through expungement, but it is much easier to attain. There are several other things you should know about this option if you are hoping to put your crimes behind you and move on with your life.

Law Office of James L. Riotto | 30 West Broad Street, Suite 306 | Rochester, NY 14614 | Phone: 585-371-5633 | Map & Directions
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